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Shelter Cove, CA, Bonanza engine failure on final

I came across this piece of news

Apparently after a normal downwind and base the P35’s engine sputtered a couple of times and eventually totally lost power. NTSB reports no known cause since wreck not recovered.

Runway threshold is 150m from the shoreline where the video was apparently taken from. AC landed about 200m from shore so only 350m short of runway, which is, however, 75ft MSL elevation.

Both occupants safely recovered, after standing on wing before the airplane sank, one swam to shore, the other one was towed by a rescue jet ski, both lifevest-less. Only bodily damage was hypothermia: I would have expected more from the heavyish impact.

A few lessons to be learnt from this accident. What would you have done differently?

Last Edited by Antonio at 14 May 11:32
LESB, Spain

Antonio wrote:

A few lessons to be learnt from this accident.

One of them being that ditching is a good option to survive the impact. I fly in one of the most densely populated area in Europe (Ruhrgebiet in Germany). There aren’t that many suitable spots for an emergency landing and often a channel seems to be the saftest option. Also no fire hazard


Not the best ditching technique…

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

What would you have done differently?

Not gonna say what I would have done, as we are mere humans…
A quick glance shows the gear being initially down, then selected up… if it had been retracted before, the field could have been reached. Maybe. The ditching itself is uncontrolled as the aircraft is stalling at the very moment it touches the water.

Fly the aircraft into the crash as long as you can…

ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

I’d say the video title was correct, referring it as “crash” rather than ditching.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Good point about the “gear situation” . It leads me to think this human pilot was in negationary mode (this can’t be happening , I can’t be losing the engine,) and then simply felt the urge to extend the glide by pulling on the yoke (high pitch observed throughout).

Being so low, it takes a very conscious decision to change into “lost engine” mode with a surging engine . It is the “lost engine” mode that may lead you to retract the gear (and perhaps flaps) and pitch down to best glide after having extended them. A different matter is if you lose it at a higher altitude before gear/flap extension, when you would simply not extend the gear until you know for sure you will need it to put down safely.

Is retracting the gear back up going to be my first thought (“I lost the engine”)? Or perhaps reaching to the mixture, fuel selector , fuel pump and the rest of the engine failure checklist (“I can fix this engine”) and then only a few seconds later maybe think I can extend the glide (by retracting the gear and perhaps flaps and pitching down)?

Perhaps the pilot retracted the gear for a smoother ditching rather than for extending the glide. Given his airspeed and attitude I doubt the retracted gear would make a difference. In a controlled ditching it definitely would help. Perhaps he was thinking he needed to do something about ditching and gear came to mind. Again, can this happen to me? Focus on resolving the situation vs flying?

This bears similarity with the accident of BA 38 , the 777 at LHR where the quick-thinking pilot retracted the flaps thus saving the day for a few hundred people. He left gear extended, btw, absorbing some of the impact energy.

Last Edited by Antonio at 14 May 17:46
LESB, Spain

He left gear extended, btw, absorbing some of the impact energy.

That was crash landing event and in such case gear down is recommended and beneficial. In case of ditching it definitely isn’t. I agree that in case of loosing the engine on short final, it’s not easy to comprehend and accept that it’s really happening but extending the glide should be the first thing in mind.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Wear lifejackets if ditching is possible. Chose to ditch if terrain for landing not certain.
If in the water without a lifejacket the downdraft from a rescue helicopter will be “unpleasant”.

EGPE, United Kingdom

Antonio wrote:

A few lessons to be learnt from this accident. What would you have done differently?

From a pure objective standpoint, a circuit where engine power is needed to make it to the runway is very much unnecessary, especially over water. We have the same situation with water at ENVA. Some think about it, and adjust accordingly, others don’t.

Lifejackets is a good thing when flying over water. Not stalling the plane close to the ground is also good advice

Objectively the PIC did everything wrong. If he flies again, and the same thing happens, he will probably do everything right Consequently this would be a non event as he would simply glide to land the plane.

More subjectively, shit happens, and they were lucky to survive without a scratch.

The elephant is the circulation

Antonio wrote:

A few lessons to be learnt from this accident. What would you have done differently?

a steeper approach, as predicated by Paul Bertorelli, allowing you more potential energy to tap into, in case the big whirly thing at the front stopped? Never seen the video? It’s here:

EDL*, Germany
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