By Ivan van der Schaar

The engine failure has got a nasty habit of ruining your day, purely for the reason you are not going to be able to complete your flight as planned…

Engine failure during take-off and just there after

· During the take-off run if the engine quits, in a single engine and most piston twins, the best thing to do is close the other engine and stop straight ahead. A single with a failed engine is not gonna fly and most piston twins you are better off not trying to force the aircraft to fly with insufficient or depleading airspeed. This could lead to VMCA/VMCG and rate of climb issues and if not handled well can make the day really ugly. So the best in my opinion, twin or single, is to stop straight ahead. If the runway is too short to stop apply maximum braking without locking the wheels and once you depart the runway try and keep the aircraft steering for the smoothest ground and least obstacles around.

If the engine fails after take-off. You do not have much time to save the day, so better you know the procedures well. Set up best glide speed, choose a field approximately 30' each side of the nose, DO NOT TURN BACK!!! Turning back will cause too much loss of height. You will not make the runway.

If you turn back the human mind will try to stretch the glide resulting in decaying airspeed leading to a stall and a potential spin… If time allows select flaps. If you are even higher try fuel pumps and changing tanks. A mixture adjustment may also be wise. But the old rule of ANC (aviate-navigate-communicate) applies strongly.

If you are in a twin. Do not force the aircraft to maintain altitude or even climb away.
Maintain blue line speed.

If you are not going to clear obstacles or terrain a forced landing will have to be executed. Allowing the speed to decay will lead to VMCA being reached. The aircraft will become uncontrollable and roll over. Close to the ground this becomes a very undesirable situation…

Engine failure during the cruise or at altitude

Having an engine fail in the cruise or at altitude will give you more time to make decisions. But, this does not mean that you should be relaxed about the situation. Handle the situation swiftly and as efficiently as possible. I use the rime, SFFF which stands for.

· S-Speed: Trade speed for height and set up best glide speed
· F-Field: Select a field. Select a key point abeam the down wind threshold about 1000m away

· and start making your way to the key point. This will act as your marker for the base turn. Do not lose sight of the field.

· F-Fault: Start looking around the cockpit for possible causes of the engine failure. Change fuel tanks, fuel pumps on, check the mixture, check the mags, carb heat.

· F-Final: This last check is done on base turn and this is where we are committed to landing and "shut" the aircraft down.

Let us look at the events as they unfold.

The engine fails:

S-Speed- set up best glide speed and trade height for airspeed.

F-Field- Select a field with the 1000m marker and start flying towards the marker. Check for power lines in the area. On the way to the marker we can do the next check...

F-Fault- Look around the cockpit at possible causes. Fuel pumps on and change fuel tanks check fuel pressure. While busy with engine gauges run through the lot: oil pressure, oil temp, manifold pressure. Check the mixture setting try richening and leaning. Also check for carb ice. If no clues are available check for power by making sure the throttle is fully open. If no power reduce it to idle.

By this time we realise the engine is not going to restart. So we start setting up for the forced landing to follow. Bearing in mind we are still on our way to our 1000m marker.

Time for downwind checks. Brakes- on/off

Undercarriage- down. (Height dependent)
Mixture- cut off
Pitch- fully coarse
Throttle- idle
Fuel - Pump off and switch the selector to off
Flap- as required once again height dependent

Mayday call- The call should be something like this: "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. Alpha Bravo Charlie 10 miles south of Gat sonder end executing a forced landing.

What happens next is rather extraordinary. Every aircraft that heard your call is going to try and give you advice, ask you to say again etc. Try not to get involved too much. This is becoming a critical time to control your aircraft so rather shift your attention to flying the aircraft for a successful outcome of the situation. If necessary switch the radio off….

Your passengers by this time is noticing that you are rather sweating as the cockpit got really hot (I am sure you know the old saying about the propeller keeping the pilot cool…). And they need to be informed. Brief them on the situation and what you are planning to do about it. Remind them about the emergency exits and doors, their location and operation and unlatch the doors. Remind everyone on the location of First aid kits, survival equipment and fire extinguishers

Make sure everyone is strapped in and glasses and pens removed from person.

By now you should reach your key point. If you are high extend the downwind slightly. If you are low commence the base turn earlier. Judgement of this turn comes with aircraft knowledge and practise…

Aim to touch down 1/3 down the runway, as slow as possible and preferably full flap.

When forced landings are being practised be aware of power lines and sloping terrain so that you don't get "out climbed by rapidly rising ground. Execute the go-around at about 200ft or higher.

Folks remember a well-trained pilot is one of the best tools you can have in a cockpit. So I urge you to go practise these manuvers from time to time. You do not have to take an instructor with every time, take a friend with and both of you can benefit at the same time. Just remember during practised forced landings to warm the engine up from time to time as to avoid shock cooling of the engine.

Well that is about enough for this month. Keep it safe till next time

Ivan van der Schaar

Ivan's Aviation Minute

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