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Ask the Pilot, with Captain Mike Bowers


Q: Typically, within a minute or two after take-off, the pilots reduce the speed of the aircraft before accelerating again. What is the reasoning for that quick but short-lived deceleration?
A: What you sense is actually a reduction in engine power, not speed, although reduced acceleration may make it feel as if the plane is slowing. We require less power once safely airborne than we do to take off. Once we reach a safe altitude (800 feet above the ground in most cases), we reduce the power slightly to reduce the noise. That reduced power is sufficient to allow us to continue to accelerate and climb. Once we are high enough above the ground so that noise is no longer an issue, we increase the power again.

Do you have a question for Captain Bowers? You can write to him at askthepilot@united.com

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