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Brakes 'slammed', take-off aborted as plane comes in to land in Canberra

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Virgin says one of its aircraft was travelling at only taxi speed when it had to abort its take-off at Canberra Airport on Monday.

The 68-seater turboprop aircraft had several hundred metres in which to pull up after air traffic control cancelled its take-off clearance, a spokesman said.

The pilot of flight VA631 took longer than usual to apply full power and by the time the aircraft was about to accelerate down the main runway, a light aircraft was coming in to land on the cross strip.

The larger aircraft stopped, backtracked on the main runway, then took off and arrived in Sydney on schedule, the spokesman said.

''It had been travelling at 10 to 20km/h, taxiing speed, when it had to stop,'' he said.


In a statement, Air Services Australia said the incident was not a near miss.

''Air traffic control cancelled the take-off clearance for a Virgin plane that was slow to roll on the main runway at Canberra as an

approaching plane was due to land on the cross runway.

''The cancellation is a routine procedure in response to the slow movement of the aircraft.

''The Virgin aircraft was reissued a clearance a few minutes later when it was safe for the aircraft to depart,'' Air Services Australia said.

Airport managing director Stephen Byron said he did not usually comment on routine matters but he was making a public comment because of the treatment of the incident on radio.

''There was a Virgin aircraft that was given clearance to depart on the main runway and, for some reason, the pilot took a little bit of time to commence rolling forward,'' he told Fairfax Media.

''Air traffic control cancelled the clearance and the plane had to pull up promptly because there was another plane landing on the cross runway.''

Earlier on Monday, a Twitter user described the experience as “scary” and said the aircraft’s brakes were “slammed on”.