Menu Sign In Contact FAQ
Welcome to our forums

PFLs - preferred approach

I'm not an instructor, far from it, as a low hours PPL.

But when coming up to my GST decided it was a good idea to note down the downwind heading on my knee pad and as soon as went into the PFL turn onto downwind at the same time as carb out, trim for glide.

Then do the "Why" checks and re=start and looking out for a field right or left, then do the Mayday, turn base then PFL landing config.


I strongly disagree with flight school one size fits all mnemonic checks. The check should IMO be airplane model specific and regularly practiced as touch drills (a great exercise when you are droning along in cruise and getting bored).

I strongly agree.... The mnemonic needs to be treated as a prompt for systems by an intelligent person...of course the model specific actions should be my abbreviated posting I didn't think I needed to spell these things out....but:

Fuel = all things related (and relevant to the particular aircraft) such as switching tank, boost pump, contents check etc and while your checking gages, check all of Oil pressure, temps, fuel flow etc.

Carb Heat = possibly not even relevant or could mean alternate air

Mixture = may mean full rich or if high density altitude Amy actually mean leaning

Ignition = magnetos on both usually...

Throttle = check position, increase if appropriate

These actions will cover most scenarios for most piston airplanes

In the heat of the moment it is possible to overlook such things as the throttle was bumped...especially at night....been there, done that

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

I also think that missed approach/go around should be taught pitch up to arrest descent, establish climb attitude, set climb power.

On the engine failure point, I think reminining people to think of the last thing they did wrt the engine is also a good idea. Out of Cannes two weeks ago I deselected alternate air in spite of it having been selected before entering cloud. Suffered a partial power loss. Clearly there was some icing on the air intake and I naturally swapped it back.

EGTK Oxford


It is just as easy to teach the specific correct method for the aircraft you are in as it is to teach a generic mnemonic.

If the engine fails while cruising at 8000 feet AGL you have plenty of time to investigate


It is muscle memory that will save your bacon when you have an unexpected engine failure at lower altitudes and your brain gets a sudden cramp from the stress.

Have you ever had a for real engine failure ? My guess is no and particularly for the lower level failures you, like most pilots, will have a hard time turning the for instance "fuel" into the correct actions in the right order for that airplane when the adrenaline is pumping

Another thing that seems to never get taught at flight schools is what can you do if you have lots of time, like for instance that engine failure at 8000 feet AGL and with a landable area in view

After the obvious checks don't work I teach to go back and experiment. Various carb and fuel systems failures will result in the engine only being able to run at a certain throttle/mixture settings. So start with full rich and full throttle and try leaning to see if the engine will pick up, if that does not work try full rich and then slowly close the throttle. If that does not work try part leaned and adjusting the throttle. Try a shot of prime. If the engine picks up you can run it at low power just by pumping the primer.

I once had a mag fail internally resulting in the spark getting advanced by 40 deg. The engine did not like that at all and was hardly making any power as well as shaking madly. Simply switching to one mag instantly resulted in smooth engine operation and almost full power.

Of course you have to know when to cut your losses and give up on the engine so you can concentrate on flying the aircraft.

Remember the best way to deal with an engine failure is not to have it fail in the first place. Don't be one of the 80 % !

Wine, Women, and Airplanes = Happy

So, with those provisos, how does that affect how you teach PFLs Yankee? Doesn't sound to me that there's anything there I'd regard as more than "type knowledge", and I'd still fly a forced landing in basically the same way.

Agreed, type knowledge is very important, in the Bonanza, it makes the difference between making the field or not.

KUZA, United States

My PPL instruction is almost exclusively on PA-28s. The dilemma in our club school is whether to let the student actually move the selector to the other fuel tank, or just touch it and say "change tank".

Many years ago a PA-28 from our airfield was totalled, after a practised engine-out became the real thing when the student turned the selector to the OFF position without the instructor being able to see it.

On the other hand I have read a report of a real power-loss caused by an empty fuel tank in a PA-28. The fully trained and licensed pilot dutifully carried out all checks including touching the selector saying "change tank".

We DO include actually changing the tank, but I always lean nervously forward to check the selector and it is not easy to see.

EKRK, Denmark

Big Pistons Forever, I agree with everything you say.....and you are right, thankfully I have never had an engine outright fail on me....I think though my post has been taken a little too literally....the FCMIT is not a bad mnemonic to carry around with you from aircraft to aircraft....but agree fully with learning (and burning them into muscle memory) your own aircraft specifics...

EGPD / OMDW / YPJT, United Kingdom

huv - all emergency practices should be 'touch drills', i.e. you touch or point to the control and say aloud what you would do (e.g. - mixture - 'cutoff') without actually doing it.

Are you saying your school really doesn't allow the students to change tanks in a PA28 at all / in normal operations? That is totally bizarre, the off position has a baulk to prevent inadvertant selection. How on earth do people get competent to go solo if they dont operate all the controls in their position on the aircraft?!

Now retired from forums best wishes

Agreed, type knowledge is very important, in the Bonanza, it makes the difference between making the field or not.

I really hope not - good technique should be proof against that; after all, if the prop has seized, or a cowling has distorted and created a bloody great airbrake on the front that you didn't start with, or the gear is stuck half-down, or the flaps won't work - you still need to be able to make the field, despite the unfamiliar drag condition, however well or badly you know the aeroplane.

Hence my, personally, being a strong advocate of the constant aspect approach in PFLs, although I'll grudgingly accept that the turns-and-beats method will do the same job.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.

G t E

In the event of an engine failure you you should always give yourself every possible advantage. If the engine fails then it is cause check and the airframe should be configured to the optimum glide configuration which in the Bonanza will be best glide speed (very model specific) gear and flaps up, and prop at full decrease. Even if the field is reachable with the prop in full fine you should still IMO, always go to best glide configuration.

Wine, Women, and Airplanes = Happy
Sign in to add your message

Back to Top