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An unusual twin accident - fuel exhaustion?

I don’t agree. When an engine fails from fuel starvation, it surges wildly and the nose sways both ways. You simply cannot tell during the first, say, five seconds which engine has failed from your attempts to control it. However, a quick glance at the instruments shows one RPM rock solid and the other rising and falling markedly. Fuel Flow also surges. I know this because I have experienced it a number of times, mainly through fuel icing, but also because of the leak.

I do agree that his best move would have been to reduce power on the live engine and stuff the nose down to get asymmetric flying speed, but the power reduction would not have to be to zero, and, depending on height available he may or may not have been able to reach the runway with reduced power or get to blue line and gradually increase the power for a controlled go-around.

EGKB Biggin Hill

it surges wildly and the nose sways both ways. You simply cannot tell during the first, say, five seconds which engine has failed from your attempts to control it.

I agree, but are you really going to try and resolve this at 100 ft with a rapidly reducing airspeed by looking at guages?

No, you just try to keep control. I am just saying that you cannot use your legs to identify or feather.

EGKB Biggin Hill

Timothy is entirely correct. I have not flown an MEP for a few years but am current in multi-engine flying. Scan the instruments, fly the aircraft. Identify the failure using the gauges, then confirm by the fact the aircraft doesn’t go haywire when you idle the throttle you have identified. As with most things, a deep breath before a flurry of action will make your life much easier. No multi-crew SOP I have come across has ever used DLDE, and I haven’t touched it since I did my MEIR.

Modern turboprops have things like autofeather and rudder boost precisely because this is recognised to be bloody difficult when presented at high power settings, low altitudes, together with the startle factor. One of the key disciplines is reviewing just before you line up precisely what you are going to do if an engine stops. I fly 70-80 hours a month and we still rehearse engine failure actions at least twice a day.

If one reads the accounts of the fine test pilots of the post-war period, the most striking common factor is their disciplined approach to preparation, and despite the hair-raising stories, they spent a lot of time before a flight learning memory items and armchair flying various scenarios.

(I managed to post this in the wrong thread initially)

London area

Josh – can’t your plane do 5000fpm when filled with the Cavos crowd, and 1000fpm+ on one engine?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Perf A obviously helps me sleep better (though on wet runways, it’s surprisingly marginal), but damaged and surging engines can be equally as difficult to identify by any other method than looking at the gauges (though flames shooting out the back might help).

The keys are currency and mental preparation. In the case of this accident, the instinctive reaction to an approach that was going wrong was to firewall the thrust and heave back on the stick. That will kill you in any form of twin if you mishandle it.

I cannot, however, fathom how distracting a factor having your wife sat next to you must be. Simply the knowledge of their presence, and possibly the distracting noise must add a hell of a lot of stress.

London area

With fuel starvation (as in running out of fuel) it will stop pretty quickly so you will know.

It might not just stop cold, sometimes with fuel starvation you don’t get a sudden and complete failure in the fuel supply, you get partial supply and resulting varying engine power. Perhaps (especially if the constant speed prop could keep up) this surging in this particular case varying yaw as the power varied may have been mistaken for turbulence or windshear, and rather than thinking “engine failure” the pilot thought “get out of windshear” and opened both throttles (at which point the aircraft would have suddenly yawed due to the now very large asymmetric thrust if the pilot wasn’t thinking he had a dead engine).

Disclaimer: it’s been 10 years since I flew multi-engine so I’m very uncurrent…

Andreas IOM

alioth is quite right. As I keep saying, I have had quite a few and that is how they have all behaved.

I have also had a cylinder come of an engine, and in that case DLDE was useless, as the aircraft was being shaken to pieces but the “dead” engine was still producing about 5/6 power.

The one thing I have never had for real is anything like what is simulated in ME training, which is formulaic and can be dealt with in a formulaic way.

Sometimes I feel like I am preaching in the wilderness on this one. You would think that someone who has has as many engine failures on ME aircraft (piston and jet) as I would be listened to as a source of information on what happens and the best way to treat it, but instead I get told I am wrong by instructors and students who have never experienced anything other than the training scenario, I guess to protect the training status quo.

Well, let me tell you, training industry, you are not doing very well when it comes to asymmetric incidents in MEPs, as this accident and many others prove. Maybe the industry needs to improve its methods rather than insisting that it knows best.

EGKB Biggin Hill
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