Cancelling the flight makes the premiere example of a safe
emergency landing. The next best is a precautionary landing made while you
still have visibility, fuel, and an engine. This precautionary landing at
least gives you choices that might otherwise be unavailable.
Planning your flight as an airport vicinity route is a part
of every emergency preparation. You want to know where the airports are. Make
your arrival at an emergency field/airport on as nearly a normal at-the-numbers
position as you can.
A rapid and total loss of engine oil in flight is indicated by a loss of oil
pressure WITHOUT an increase in oil temperature since there will be no oil in
the vicinity of the oil temperature probe
One cause of engine failure is due to the failure of some engine component. The
other three reasons involve loss of spark, air, or fuel. Ignition failure is
seldom total because of duplications in the system. Lack of air is most common
due to induction or carburettor icing. Proper fuel management most easily avoids
the most common cause of engine failure. Fuel starvation is when fuel is
available but not getting to the engine. Fuel exhaustion is when you are out of
Lycoming makes engines that may be equipped with a single
drive shaft for both magnetos. The duality of the magnetos is useless in this
An aircraft is most likely to have a component failure during the takeoff and
landing process. The use of maximum power and power changes seem to precipitate
failures. Rapid power changes can cause a pre-existing component weakness to
reach the point of failure.
Either can be prevented by:
Crew will determine fuel quantity, type, and quality.
Depart ramp on fullest tank or both.
Confirm both by feel and visually any fuel selector indent setting.
Find out what a selector does in other positions on the ground.
Select new tanks only in vicinity of airports.
Use chart to note places of fuel tank changes.
Excessive in flight idling of the engine will cause the engine to cool to
the point that fuel may not vaporize in the carburettor. This drastically leans
the mixture and can fail the engine. A sudden throttle movement may make the
problem worse. Precautions are to make ground check of idling setting, avoid
abrupt throttle movements at all times. Keep the engine warm during glides by
frequently opening the throttle for a few seconds.
The essential element of any engine failure is the amount of time you have
remaining in the air. You must have a prepared plan to use and a checklist to
make sure you follow the plan. The quickest emergency checklist utilizes the
cross panel flow. This must be adjusted to each cockpit and aircraft type. The
flow of one instrument panel will seldom work on another panel. The flow lets
you complete the task flow quickly and even more quickly confirm completion by
reference to the checklist.
Weather and its unpredictability is one major area where a pilot's lack of
knowledge and proficiency is apt to cause trouble. Typical decisions that cause
this difficulty are. "I'll take a look, and then decide type of flight". Trying
to climb over or around building clouds. Trying to sneak under or around
weather. You may get lucky but just, as likely you will run out of options. The
true saying is, "It is better to be down here and wishing you were up there than
to be up there wishing you were down here". Never fly into deteriorating weather
You will never be prepared for an engine failure. An engine
failure will never occur at an appropriate time. It takes a minimum of four (4)
seconds to become aware that the engine has failed and to wish that it hadn't
happened. Don't do anything.
Get the (# 1) checklist and use it. The pilot who does
not have an emergency checklist immediately at hand often becomes just a
passenger on the way to the ground.
You must know your aircraft speeds and just to be sure have
them on your basic emergency checklist in different colors for the aircraft you
fly. There are several engine-out glide speeds. The best glide speed is a
lift/drag ratio for best distance. This is between Vx and Vy but will vary by
weight. Adding 1/3 of headwind velocity to best glide speed give a penetration
glide speed for best distance. The minimum sink speed keeps you in the air the
(# 2) Select a speed and trim for it. Gain any
altitude you can with excess speed.
(# 3) Turn to your choice of field based on wind
direction. If at high altitude turn toward lower elevations and make your choice
at about 3000' AGL (above ground level).
(# 4) Go through your engine restart procedure but
first undo the last thing you did to engine operation before it failed. Check
fuel, ignition and air to the engine. All three are necessary but the fuel
system is most likely to fail. Magneto switch is the only
available to the pilot. Throttle and carburettor heat are the air controls for
Engine restart checklists begin with the fuel selector, to
the mixture and gauges. Then right to left the flow goes from carburettor heat
to magnetos, to primer. Practice until you can hit each item with
your eyes closed. Then confirm that all items have been completed.
After you have done all the normal things start being
creative. Don't expect what you do to make sense but if it
works don't ask why until Sunday. Consider that a primer that has worked loose
can cause a rough engine. A partially open primer allows raw fuel to get into
the engine intake without atomizing as required for proper combustion.
(# 5) Prepare the cockpit and yourself for the
inevitable. Tighten, pad, and protect as best you can. Seats belts and doors.
(# 6) Use your radio
(# 7) Make your landing crash as slow and as
controlled as possible. Fly the airplane. Deceleration impacts increase as the
square of the speed. Impact forces at 60 kts are four times those at 30 kts. The
cockpit will remain intact to 9-Gs. At 45 kts only 9.4 feet of deceleration will
bring you to a stop. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to keep
you and yours from rattling around inside the cage. (# 8) Prevent
shutting off fuel and electricity. When everything stops moving, get out.
The vast majority of engine failures never make Eyewitness
News because a successful emergency landing is non-news. Only one out of every
seventeen emergency landings results in a fatality. Most pilots will never
experience such an emergency in their lifetime.
with Engine Failure
Dealing with an engine failure depends on a series of factors, pilot
competence, type of aircraft, extent of failure, type of failure, altitude, and
general weather/surface conditions. Focus must be on keeping the aircraft aloft
and under control. The more altitude the more options you have in acquiring
assistance. Emergency checklist is the essential safety aid to be consulted as
to what to do.
Apply carburettor heat, open alternate air, switch tanks, turn on fuel pump,
check primer pump, select magneto, even moderate vibration calls for immediate
The standard emergency for engine failure on takeoff is to land ahead into the
wind. Make no more than 30 degrees of heading change to locate the best landing
place. An emergency landing into a 10 kt wind at a full flap stall speed of 35
kts gives you a survivable ground contact speed of 25 kts. However, there is
another option possible if sufficient altitude has been gained before failure.
(A good reason to always takeoff and climb at best rate, Vy) To determine this
altitude it is necessary to practice at altitude. At 3000' on a North heading,
simulate engine failure and have the student execute a right turn in a 30-degree
bank to 240 degrees. Note the altitude loss. Do the same 240-degree turn to the
left. Note the altitude loss. Now do both turns with 45 to 60 degree banks. Note
altitude lost. Add 50% to the altitudes as a fudge factor for actual use.
From these turns you should decide that the steep turn loses
the least altitude. Having determined this we now can add some factors for
returning to a runway. If there is any crosswind always make the turn into the
wind since it will bring you back to the runway. If there are parallel runways
turn to the parallel since only 180 degrees of turn will be needed. Crossing
runways may even need less turn. If the tailwind is 10-kts it will double the
required runway for landing.
Best glide is when parasitic drag and induced drag are the least.
Induced drag decreases with airspeed, and is highest at low speeds as in slow
flight. The best glide always occurs at the Angle of Attack that represents the
best lift over drag ratio. This angle of attack is a constant, no matter how the
aircraft is loaded.
By moving the CG aft, range) is increased, but glide is
decreased. This means less downward lift required to counteract the CG and less
load factor on the wings. The result is a lower angle of attack needed to
maintain straight and level flight. The lower angle of attack allows airspeed to
increase. With a faster airspeed we get an exponential rise in parasitic drag.
This parasitic drag kills your glide.
At any AOA there's a parasitic drag, and an induced drag
contribution to the total drag coefficient. Since the AOA is fixed at best
glide, so, also, is the lift coefficient. There is only one factor that we can
vary to adjust the lift to match any change in effective weight, the speed.
Moving the CG aft, you reduce the second contribution, but leave the first
unchanged. Whatever AOA, speed or lift coefficient you fly at, the overall drag
coefficient is lower with an aft CG. If you fly the speed that gave best glide
for the forward CG, you'll still get a better glide ratio with the aft CG. By
flying a little slower you can get an even better glide ratio.
If the effective weight of the aircraft is decreased, while
the angle of attack remains the same then the speed for that specific angle of
attack must decrease. If the weight increases then the speed must increase to
hold that most efficient L/D angle of attack. Adding ballast to a glider
increases the penetration capability. The glide angle remains the same, but the
speed to obtain that best glide angle increases with the weight. Your "glide
angle" remains unchanged since as the weight increases your sink rate increases.
Distance covered increases by exactly the same ratio.
Conventional aircraft carry a download on the tail for
stability. Moving the CG moves aft reduces the download. This reduction in
download acts like a decrease in weight. Since the download on the tail augments
your pitch stability reduces your pitch stability margin. At some point the
download reduction makes the aircraft difficult to fly. Approaching a stall
quickly may make it impossible to get the nose to come back down.
An airport near mountains
Deficiency of RADAR coverage
Limited terrain lighting on approach path
Maintain terrain clearance altitudes
Descend only on published routes
Identify navaids before using
Cross-check your position
Night is the most dangerous time.
Most encounters with fire in aircraft end as non-events. Even the non-events
would not happen if the pilot makes a no-go decision because of empty holes in
the panel. Flying with a known deficiency is just looking for trouble. Preparing
for an in-flight smoke/fire occasion should begin with carrying a handheld radio
that will give you communications with the electrical system off. Having a small
halogen extinguisher is additional insurance.
There are four kinds of aircraft fires, engine start, electrical, in-flight and
post-crash. A different checklist is required for each type. In flight aircraft
fires are far more rare than ground fires from engine starts. Next in frequency
is an engine fire caused by failure of an engine compartment component.
Insulation, adhesives and fabrics are the usual fuel once ignited by burning
avgas and oil.
Basic fire procedure is to remove the source of combustion. In electrical fires
you can shut down the master switch. Done quickly enough it may not have ignited
other inflammables. Your best cockpit extinguisher is the Halogen 1211, which is
soon to be unavailable.
Electrical fires have an acrid smell with possible white smoke. Begin by
shutting everything off with the master. Then shut off all individual circuits.
It may be better not to turn anything on but if conditions require, turn on the
master and then re-energize each circuit one at a time in an effort to isolate
the problem. Handheld radios and GPS become worth their weight and cost in this
situation. Don't fly any longer than necessary.
Black smoke warns of oil while fuel makes orange flames. Respond to a fuel fire
by pulling the mixture, shutting off the selector, and applying full throttle to
use up the carburettor fuel. Shut off cabin heat. Point the nose to the ground
and if possible get the flaps down so as to minimize your ground contact speed
when you level out.
Post-crash fires are more dangerous than the crash itself. Most deaths come from
some and carbon monoxide inhalation. Fill the cockpit with Halogen before
exiting. Good maintenance is still the best fire insurance.
Fire in an aircraft will get your attention. Cut off the source of fuel be it
gasoline or electricity. Be in an emergency descent configuration for as long as
smoke exists. You must decide whether to dive or slip. The slip is most likely
to keep the problem away from the cockpit but may take longer to lose altitude.
Most engine fires occur on the ground in the winter. The engines are over-primed
and a backfire can ignite excess fuel. Shut off the fuel via the mixture and the
selector valve. Keep cranking the starter to suck the fire into the exhaust
system and if the engine starts so much the better. Give maximum throttle to use
up available fuel and perhaps blow out any existing flames. Radio for help and
be prepared to bail out. Over-prime with the throttle is most likely to create
the ground fire hazard.
Every second of the fire's existence is a prelude to disaster. In the event of a
fire there is no time for a checklist. While there are more electrical fires
than engine fires, more fatalities result from engine fires. A pilot trained for
emergency situations will have a better chance of maintaining control of the
Engine fires are mostly caused by exhaust system component failures. Cylinder
failure runs second as a fire cause. Defective maintenance is third. Accident
specialists find that the source of a fire is usually at the site of the last
maintenance work. 20% of in-flight fires are due to maintenance. On average two
in-flight fires occur every month. Less than five fire fatalities occur per
A small flight kit sized halogen extinguisher can still be obtained. Get one.
Structural failure or pilot incapacitation is an imminent outcome of any fire
that is not quickly put out. Get down making emergency descent with flaps down
if possible. You will get down just as quickly. Otherwise slip as much as
possible. Get the fire stopped by shutting off electric masters and fuel supply.
Smoke can be removed from light planes by using cockpit and wing vents.
What To Do:
Engine fire -- shut off fuel; full throttle
Electrical fire -- shut off master, use extinguisher, ventilate
Cabin fire -- ventilate, extinguish, use liquids
Emergency descent flaps, slips as possible.
Gear up/down, ditching decisions.
Fire is fuelled in aircraft by either gasoline or electrical
energy. Black smoke usually indicates gasoline/oil and white smoke + a
distinctive door is electrical. Most electrical fires will die when the master
switch is cut off. Fuel fires in the engine compartment can be cut off by the
mixture, fuel pump and fuel cutoff valve. In any event get on the ground as soon
Getting to the ground quickly and keeping the fire and smoke from the cockpit
requires that an extreme nose high slip be set up. A descent rate of well over
1000-fpm can be achieved with full rudder application. IAS may be kept below 50
in this situation. Release rudder at the last moment and hold the aircraft off
the ground to land as slow as possible. A deliberate groundloop will bring the
aircraft to a quick but abrupt stop. Get your doors open before you land. This
might well be something to practice at altitude with your instructor. Aircraft
fires in flight are rare but they do happen.
An oil fire is more serious because you cannot shut off the source of fuel as
you could with a gasoline fire. The engine compartment is probably the best
engineered part of the aircraft. The firewall will contain the fire unless it
gets around the nacelle or firewall. The most likely source of an engine fire is
in the exhaust system and in old weakened fuel lines and hoses. The inability to
make a preflight inspection of such weak areas is where you, the pilot, must put
your trust in a maintenance program that includes periodic hose changes.
An exhaust leak will usually vent heat overboard with the cooling air. If an
exhaust fire should occur, the heat can be reduced by enriching the mixture. A
preferred option might be to pull the mixture to stop the engine. Once a gasket
starts to leak it will only get worse. An oil leak is more likely to be in an
area of low airflow.
Aircraft fires on the ground usually occur during the starting procedure. The
use of excessive (4 pumps) throttle prime means that the carburettor bowl will
overfill. The gasoline flows out the vent in the top, and accumulates at the air
intake or elsewhere. As the starter turns the engine a slight backfire can
ignite the fuel in the engine compartment. The instant smoke appears, pull the
mixture, shutoff the fuel selector valve, continue to crank the engine. If the
engine starts, apply full brakes and full power us speed consumption of gasoline
in the carburettor. If the engine does not start, continue cranking since the
vacuum formed by the pistons will draw flames up the exhaust and use up the fuel
in the system by drawing it into the engine. Prepare to exit if this does not
work. You might consider alerting ATC to send the airport fire crews. About 6%
of all accidents involve in-flight fires. Age of the exhaust system and fuel
system hoses is the greatest single cause.
Aircraft Fire Extinguisher
Use only a B-C type the A type corrodes aluminium.
Start-up fire without engine running
Use starter to keep engine turning but shut off all fuel. Suction of pistons
will draw fire into engine and exhaust system.
Start-up fire with engine running
Full throttle and cut off all fuel sources. Uses up fuel and can blow out fire.
Electrical off, isolate cabin from engine compartment, extinguisher, land.
Engine fire aloft
Mixture off, all fuel off, electrical off, flaps down, isolate cabin, emergency
Consider maxim performance slip or power dive to keep fire from cabin.
PTS Emergency Descent
1. Fastest practical descent. within aircraft limitations
2. Clearing turns
3. Making 30-40 degree banks during descent will increase descent rate
4. Descend at structural cruise speed (yellow-green) or full flaps at top of
5. Divide attention and ignore distractions
7. End exercise when procedure is established to prevent shock cooling.
En route Engine Failure
4. Alternate Air
Unploughed brown fields
Dark brown (wet) fields
Ploughed and planted fields
Soft Field Landing
Use power to control descent rate
Steep approach to improve aim
1.3 x Vref
Land on mains only at minimum speed
Power to keep nose off
An over water flight is any flight at which your altitude will not allow
gliding distance to land. Don't involve yourself in an over water flight without
at least a life vest. Wear your life vest because you won't have time to put it
on in an emergency.
--Recognition that ditching is the only option.
Most vital item is to transmit your location. Include altitude, souls on board
and any survival equipment. Open doors and have passengers remove headsets and
position themselves with whatever will minimize impact shock.
Aim for the nearest land. This reduces any swim distance. The main change from
any other landing is that you are going to get wet. If there is a current, land
downstream. Otherwise, land into the wind and across visible swells. Circle to
determine best arrival, altitude permitting. This may require compromise between
swell and wind directions. Avoid landing across swells. Look for smooth areas.
Full flaps with high-wing planes. Retractables, gear up. Low-wing with flaps up.
Avoid the absolute full stall landing. Wings parallel to swell surface.
Windshield may collapse; aircraft may skip or flip. Remain in crash position
until motion stops.
Getting out of the plane
Make your life vest as tight as you can before ditching. A loose vest
will funnel water into your nose. Make sure passengers have re-fastened their
seat harness. Keep your shoes on. Don't inflate a vest until free of the
You may be able to exit low-wing on the wing. Get as far from aircraft as
possible. You may not be able to open doors of high-wing until submerged. Don't
undo harness until you are ready to leave with doors open. Take no more than
three deep breaths before leaving. Avoid hyperventilating. Keep one hand
gripping on something as a reference point in the cockpit. Now, release your
belt. Once clear of the aircraft follow the bubbles. Don't re-enter aircraft, it
will sink without warning.
Jerk lanyard to inflate life jacket. Hypothermia is biggest threat. The
heavier your clothing the better. Avoid movement to conserve warmth. Try to
Unless situation is critical it is best to do nothing in the event of
control failure. Elevators can jam due to external object. This is just as
likely to occur in the cockpit, as it is in the control itself. Should rudder
fail you can still turn with obvious yaw. Doors can act as rudders. Broken
throttle should result in some power. Remaining power can be controlled with
mixture, magnetos. Making turns with rudder can compensate for aileron failure.
Elevator failure can be partially controlled by trim; power can give partial
control. No flaps should be used when you experience a control failure.
The Bay Area is in the western migratory bird flyway. Spring and Fall
seasons are the high strike probability periods. Over 50% of strikes are sea
gulls. 70% of strikes are in daylight. 90% of these are below 3000' and near an
airport. Avoid game refuge areas. Airport/Facility Directory and NOTAMS warn of
birds. With the closing of the garbage dump near CCR the bird problem is much
less. During the migratory seasons fly with your landing light on. Bird strikes
are just as likely at night as during the day.
Bird impact force is the square of the impact velocity and even at G. A. speeds
will have the effect of a 20-mm cannon shell. Windshield penetration is most
likely to produce an accident. Birds will instinctively dive when they feel
threatened by an airplane. Climb, but not into a stall. A bird strike fatality
is 10 times more likely to occur due to the pilot's loss of aircraft control
after the strike. Pilot error is the problem.
Estimated 6000 bird strikes a year. Over half occur below 100 feet. 99% happen
below 2500. Record bird sighting is at 37,000'. 805 occur during takeoff and
landing. 34 civil crashes and 200 known deaths resulting from bird strikes. $750
million damage. Gulls cause 1/3 of strikes.
Early morning and just before dark is the period of greatest strike danger. Less
than 10% of strikes happen above 3,000 feet. Nearly 80% occur within 500 feet of
the ground. Over 60% occur within 100 feet AGL. Night is occasion for 25% of
strikes. July to November is worst period.
Birds highest speed can be obtained by diving when they fold wings. Pilot should
anticipate this reaction and climb. Showing lights and strobes gives birds
Slow down in vicinity of birds.
Don't takeoff toward grounded birds.
Heat your windshield in vicinity of birds.
Avoid low flight over landfill and marshes.
Over fly airports early morning and evenings.
Use lights. The bird will see the light before seeing the airplane.
Consider safety goggles in vicinity of birds.
Defence is noting notams. Fly high during migratory season. Only one percent of
strikes occur above 2500'. Most birds fly in day time. Some do fly at night. The
larger the bird the slower the wing beat. Use aircraft lights and strobes when
in bird country. Fly above birds when possible. In bird territory slow down.
Taxiing is the most likely time for FOD to occur. The runup area should
be free of any loose objects and never run the engine over loose gravel while
stopped. The propeller vortex will suck up rocks into the blades if it is not
FOD inside the aircraft can become a problem when encountering turbulence. Loose
items on the floor can jam controls; spilled fluids can short out electrical
components. Tie down what can be tied down if there is any possibility, and
there is always a possibility, of FOD in the cockpit.
The FAA makes recommendations as to altitudes above wildlife areas but
the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has laws that are not part of your training.
The Airborne Hunting Act prohibits harassment of wildlife anywhere. Whatever the
reasons for flights near wildlife there is potential for a problem with the
Using the radio to get help:
1. Select a radio on the audio panel at the top.
2. Try to use the existing frequency or change to l121.5 which is the
3. Use the push-to-talk button as you talk.
In-flight emergencies are extremely rare.
4 Neither you nor the pilot will be prepared for an emergency.
Do what you can to pad the space in front of you..
Fasten and tighten your seat belt and shoulder harness.
Unlatch the door just before touchdown.
Get out of the plane quickly.
An Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) should go off automatically after an
Do not leave the area, yet..