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-   -   Safety around propellers (https://www.pprune.org/accidents-close-calls/562596-safety-around-propellers.html)

the_flying_cop 30th Aug 2015 19:29

I had always had good prop discipline instilled into me from a young age. Imagine my surprise and apprehension when I was told that the islander needed a comp wash once a week.

The instruction was to spray water into the intake, whilst balancing one of the prop blades on one's shoulder. This was to take up the strain of the prop as the captain then repeatedly spooled the starter motor for 3-4 second bursts.

Most dangerous thing I ever saw, and also completely pointless. The spray was just a 5l hozelock container with tap water in it.

I raised my concerns to the higher ups, and was told that we HAD to do it or the engines' warranty would not be upheld.


Piltdown Man 12th Oct 2015 13:07

I recalling seeing an RAF poster some time ago listing the "Five golden rules" with regard to propellor safety. In typical RAF style they were:

1. Never walk through the arc of a propellor.
2. Never walk through the arc of a propellor.
3. Never walk through the arc of a propellor.
4. Never walk through the arc of a propellor.
5. Never walk through the arc of a propellor.

I think they made their point well.


Fostex 12th Oct 2015 21:21

I won't go near the business end until I have visually checked the mags. I once hauled my machine out of the hangar with the tow bar and hand on the prop only to find the previous pilot had left the keys in place with mags on both.

I have since had a shit-fit on someone who did the same. It is extremely dangerous, you wouldn't leave a loaded shotgun sitting in the hangar.

pasir 12th Oct 2015 21:58

During my PPL days at Biggin Hill there was a report of a Cessna 337 twin (engine front and rear) whereby a passenger disembarked, walked around the back of the a/c and into the still rotating prop with tragic consequences.
The other occasion was on the Doolittle raid on Tokyo 1942 where a sailor on the a/c carrier slipped over on the deck and lost an arm as start up orocedures commenced .

Lancman 17th Oct 2015 17:00

A Chieffie at RAF St. Eval climbed into a Shackleton early one morning and started up one engine, he then climbed out and walked into the propellor. The verdict was suicide, but what a strange way to do it.

Penny Washers 17th Oct 2015 17:22

#23: "A loaded shotgun." Good one.

I always tell any non-aviating passengers, especially the young ones, that a propeller is really a circular saw. It may have only two teeth, but should be treated with the same degree of caution.

They can understand the circular saw analogy, while a propeller can look so harmless.

rigpiggy 18th Oct 2015 06:30

in my younger much more foolish days. I ramped on a 748, sop's being no debarkation till the props were stopped. we would time and grab the blades so as to get a lift of 4-6' off the ground. the cakes would fly a good 200' if you tossed them in during rundown" these imbecilic tricks taught to me by the mechanic". heehee, oh well I survived my childhood, barely

mary meagher 18th Oct 2015 19:37

It is unsafe to walk too close to the front of a fixed wing power plane. There may be a very short pilot whispering "clear prop!"

It is unsafe to walk too close to the rear of a rotary helicopter or a gyrocopter which is already running...and I used to think it was unsafe to walk anywhere near a heli without keeping an extremely low posture....still true or not?

It is perfectly safe to walk all around a glider unless it is attached to some sort of launching line. It is dangerous if you are standing on or near the winch line or the aerotow rope. (once in my former club we nearly launched a chap who caught a foot in a loop) If both wings are level, a glider may be about to be launched. If one wing is on the ground, probably not, though there may be somebody groveling under the glider attempting to attach a winch line to the belly hook.

Chuck Ellsworth 18th Oct 2015 20:25

When I first started my flying career my first real flying job was crop dusting. ( Aerial application. )

The company had three types of airplanes, we started on the J3 Cub then went to the Super Cub and finally the Stearman with the P.W. 450 hp. engine.

Only the Super Cub had a starter the other two we hand proped.

So we grew up with prop safety as a natural talent.

Small Rodent Driver 19th Oct 2015 03:44

During my PPL days at Biggin Hill there was a report of a Cessna 337 twin (engine front and rear) whereby a passenger disembarked, walked around the back of the a/c and into the still rotating prop with tragic consequences.
I believe that may have been at Liverpool in the early to mid 1970,s. A stewardess having accepted a lift disembarked the 337 whilst the a/c was being shut down and walked rearward through the prop arc. Resulted in a big tightening of security around the Liverpool apron at the time.

mary meagher 19th Oct 2015 20:02

Pithblot on page 1 is apparently the only pilot on this thread who has hand propped his plane, and is therefore very very aware of the hazards. Being a weak old woman, when my battery refused to inspire the starter, I put chocks under the wheels and asked a more experienced pilot to pull it through while I was safe in the cockpit.....and once had the honor of Derek Piggot propping GOFER for me...he insisted, though he is even older than I am, but in his career has pulled props through more times than most. A true gentleman!

You chaps should take a trip to Jack Brown's seaplane base in Florida. I got my rating there...we would slide the J3 Cub down the ramp into the water, prepare to release from the dock, and the instructor would step out onto the float and pull the prop through from behind! that really impressed me!
The whole course for the rating was tremendous fun, but they wouldn't let me fly it solo, you have to go and buy your own seaplane.

Gertrude the Wombat 19th Oct 2015 20:23

but they wouldn't let me fly it solo
Try Canada. Well, I didn't get to fly the floatplane solo either, but only because I wasn't good enough at the time (I'd be better at it now) - it's five solo circuits for the rating.

Chuck Ellsworth 19th Oct 2015 20:28

- it's five solo circuits for the rating.
Actually it is five solo take offs and landings for the rating.

...which can be done in a straight line in about three or four minutes.

JammedStab 24th Oct 2015 22:06


About 11 a.m. on June 4, an emergency call placed via satellite phone reached authorities in southwest Alaska. The caller was on a gravel bank on the Chitistone River in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve, where a flight of four Super Cubs had landed to practice backcountry off-airport operations. The instructor leading the course had been hit by a turning propeller. He died almost instantaneously. Damage to the airplane was classified as “minor.”

The victim was the 62-year-old owner and chief flight instructor of a well-regarded bush-flying school. He was an Air Force veteran who’d flown F-16s and retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel, then gone on to fly for Northwest Airlines before moving to Alaska nearly 20 years ago. By the time of the accident, he’d accumulated 40 years of teaching experience and was deeply respected in the community. Friends described an exceptionally aware and conscientious pilot who never stopped thinking about how to defeat the innumerable risks of bush flying. It’s possible, however, that he hadn’t accorded sufficient respect to the most dangerous animal on the planet: the mosquito. (By communicating disease, these pestilential parasites have caused far more human deaths than attacks by all vertebrate species combined.)

After landing on the Peavine Bar, the training group was swarmed by hordes of the biting insects. To keep them under control, they decided to start the engines on all four airplanes, using their propwash to blow away the infestation. Unfortunately, rather than leaving one pilot inside each airplane to hold the brakes, they merely chocked the wheels. While loading his Super Cub from its right side, the instructor saw that the airplane to its left had jumped its chocks and begun to roll forward. Dashing up to try to stop it, he apparently misjudged the arc of his own propeller and ran into it from behind.

India Four Two 9th Nov 2015 07:10

I recalling seeing an RAF poster some time ago listing the "Five golden rules" with regard to propellor safety.
I remember another RAF poster from the politically-incorrect 60s with an appropriate picture and the caption:

Props are like birds - don't lose your head!

Midland 331 10th Nov 2015 07:00

From "summer job" days working as a loader at Castle Don., I seem to recall the ground power socket on the BMA 800-series Viscounts being in a pretty dangerous place, and the lads having to inch along the belly between the wing roots to get to it.

An RAF old hand told me that tiredness at one base resulted in a number of his mates walking into props.

Rhino25782 12th Nov 2015 23:09

There is two occassions where I regularly move near the prop and/or touch it: During the pre-flight and when pushing or pulling a plane back into the hangar. I don't like doing it, but on some planes, it's the only option as far as I know.

chevvron 13th Nov 2015 01:43

One thing that's puzzled me for years. I was at Brize in about 1970; I had taken some cadets there and scrounged a ride in a Britannia (only a short one, 4.5 hours!) and were waiting for transport back to the terminal. Another Britannia was being readied for departure. Prior to start, one of the groundcrew went over and leaned against the prop of the engine about to be started. He suddenly walked forwards and as he did so, the prop started to turn. He did this with all 4 engines. Why was this? As the mighty Proteus was multiple spool, did he wait until he heard the turbine begin to wind up, effectively 'braking' the prop?

rigpiggy 13th Nov 2015 05:21

arctic sop was to hold the prop on the twotter until oil temp came up ensuring that there was oil in the gearbox, start #2, hold til captain gave word run over hold #1 for start, with temps let go jump in the back crawl up front while captain was taxiing.

bingofuel 13th Nov 2015 07:53

Re the Britannis props, I believe it was to stop the propellors windmilling in reverse if there was a tailwind after prop brake release as turning in reverse may cause issues with the gearbox.

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