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Engine failure - which immediate action?

From e.g. here it seems that one should commence a change of direction towards a suitable landing site immediately and do this before the usually taught actions (e.g. fuel pump on, alternate air, etc).

That implies having some sort of planned landing site at all times.

I don’t think anybody does that, but it is probably a good idea above bad terrain, especially if above an overcast.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I try to, it’s a nice exercise. Especially if above congested / mountain areas / at night. for instance when doing the 25R ILS at Toussus LFPN, I remember thinking "if i have a failure now, it’s orly, then a bit further inbound it would be villacoublay.

Valley flying is not too bad as usually there are fields / roads / not too many houses, but in true mountainous terrain I might aim for one of these tiny lakes!

I remember on one of my first night flights out of White Waltham EGLM, the instructor with whom I had flown earlier that day (and most of my PPL) asked me where I would go in the event of an engine failure. I knew there were lots of fields, but lots of trees, poles everywhere. She was a bit surprised when I said I’d ditch in the river (in henley), because it’s the only thing I could actually see (there was some reflexion).

I’d be curious to know from our airline pilots in what situations they think about this sort of eventuality (take off / landing / cruise / cruise over himallayas). Of course, as the altitude is higher, that sort of thinking is much less urgent.

The direct to / closest airport feature in moving maps is nice but I generally have other information that I find more useful at the time and don’t use it too much. But I do train myself to get there fast.

If an engine fails in flight short of the obvious running out of fuel and known icing what is the chances of it restarting? Usually there are also signs before a failure – in my experience both failures were preceeded by alarms, over temp warnings, and rough running.

Fuji_Abound wrote:

If an engine fails in flight short of the obvious running out of fuel and known icing what is the chances of it restarting? Usually there are also signs before a failure – in my experience both failures were preceeded by alarms, over temp warnings, and rough running.

Depends. If the failure is caused by a magneto timing failure, you might be able to get it running again by turning off the offending magneto. If it is caused by a fault in the fuel servo/carburator, you might be able to get it running again by adjusting throttle and mixture.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

In training (initial and recurring) I’m always taught “find a suitable landing site” as the first item.
When VFR I’m ALWAYS looking for landing sites.
When IFR I switch my GTN650 from Traffic to NearestAirport once ICAS.

EGTF, LFTF

It depends on what I’m flying, where I’m flying and how big an energy reserve I have. You might not need a detailed plan, you might not have to divert immediately, but you should be aware of your options, that’s part of situational awareness. In IFR it usually means for me keeping track of airports in gliding range (checking them out to get a feel for what it would be like to dead stick it in there, keeping an eye on weather; this can be done to some degree during planning) and in that scenario I probably won’t waste time. This is also true in long water crossings where you might want to know where ships and platforms are. ATC should be able to point you in the right direction but what if you lose communication?

Noe wrote:

but in true mountainous terrain I might aim for one of these tiny lakes!

I also like lakes. It’s not desirable but the probability of survival should be very high.

What I’ve been taught and what I teach my students to do initially is to convert excess energy to altitude, ie. pitch for best glide, then PFF (Pick a F**king Field) and then do your checks and calls (if time permits). Aviate, navigate and communicate never gets old.
Regardless of VFR/IFR or whether I’m inverted doing aerobatics, I always want to have a way out.

Norway, where a gallon of avgas is ch...
ENEG

denopa wrote:

In training (initial and recurring) I’m always taught “find a suitable landing site” as the first item.

I’ve always been taught “best glide first” (although i’d think minimum descent rate (which I have to admin I don’t know for many of the planes I fly, I only know the best glide) might be more suitable, as gives more time to make a decision).

Peter wrote:

That implies having some sort of planned landing site at all times.

Sort of, but not necessarily. The only important thing is to survive. This is done by:

  1. Very small likelihood of total failure (turbine, twin, good maintenance etc)
  2. Very high likelihood of surviving in any circumstance (low stall speed and a robust airframe (a Cub for instance, or a microlight))
  3. a chute, BRS or personal
  4. always look out for landing options.

Light GA, seldom have the luxury of 1. Some don’t have the luxury of 1 and 2. Some don’t even have the luxury of 1,2 and 3. Then, if you are out of 4, it is only luck and altitude that keeps you alive in case of an engine failure.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

Noe wrote:

I’ve always been taught “best glide first” (although i’d think minimum descent rate (which I have to admin I don’t know for many of the planes I fly, I only know the best glide) might be more suitable, as gives more time to make a decision).

I always preferred to thinking about first, don’t stall. then get to an approximately good glide speed. This works in singles, twins etc. EFAT, in the cruise or on arrival.

In an single or twin engine out scenario, keeping control of the aircraft all the way to the airfield or off field landing is the way to survive. Obviously getting into a field is better than a forest but it is the stall and possible spin that will ensure you don’t walk away. I think most training is too focussed on doing a nice pattern around your chosen landing site.

EGTK Oxford
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