View Full Version : Mayday or PAN?

hugh flung_dung
8th Jun 2009, 11:59
Recently I was doing an MEPL renewal test for a chap and we couldn't get the right engine started again after the shut-down. We'd briefed at the outset that he would handle all emergencies but that I reserved the right to intervene if my little pink body was under threat. He dealt well with the problem so I just left him to it. He chose to call Mayday and the airfield's (a large regional) response was predictably good.
Thanks go to the ATC and fire crews.:ok:

Afterwards my chap was worried about whether it should have been a PAN. My view is that it doesn't really matter since both ends of the r/t link knew there was a minor problem and were responding appropriately. It made me think back to many years ago when I had a fresh MEPL rating and started to lose an engine in the cruise but chose not to declare an emergency because of all the fuss it would cause - pretty dumb!

So, should he have called PAN or Mayday (or doesn't it matter)?


(BTW, from the sound the fire engines made as they roared around the peri track I suspect they used more fuel in a short call-out than we did in the 1:20 flight).

8th Jun 2009, 13:27
It doesn't really matter what you call. If you tell ATC that you have a donk stopped they will give the same response what ever you declare on a 2 engined aircraft.

8th Jun 2009, 17:19
The PIC can call Mayday for anything they think deserves it. It is 100% a judgement call and no one can ever say one was wrong to call Mayday.

The old unofficial rule was that if you lost 50% of your engines then it was an emergency - and thus a Mayday. i.e. in a twin with one engine inop it is a Mayday while in something with 3 engines having one fail may simply be an "abnormal" and thus be a Pan.

In the UK if you report one engine out on a twin even if you do not declare a Pan or Mayday you will usually get a full emergency response from the aerodrome where you intend to land.

Remember that Mayday says that you need immediate assistance while PAN says that you do not require immediate assistance.

So it depends on what you aircraft performance is like ie OEI ceiling, reason for failure, posibility of both failing anytime soon etc etc.

It also depends on where you are - in the UK operating a training / test exercise from an aerodrome where the FTO is based then a PAN would probably get you what you wanted while many other countries it would be a Mayday no matter what.

The ops manual from the operator if it is a commercial outfit / FTO for training aircraft should provide some guidance.

The final guidance (not related to this example) I would give is that it is not always your current situation that decides the Mayday / Pan call but how you expect things to progress i.e. you are happy with the situation now, at a safe altitude and in VMC during the cruise but planning ahead there may be a difficult approach, the terrain further along the route may not be as hospitable and being OEI may downroute start eating into your reserves. What de-icing / anti-icing capability do you have OEI? etc etc etc Such factors could lead you to declaring a Mayday, diverting and ending any posibility of a further complication rather than possible prolonging the situation with a PAN.



8th Jun 2009, 19:22
Stop being a patronising git DFC. You know fine HFD is an experienced instructor who is apparently pretty good at what he does.

The fact that ATC give you the level of emergency call out that they see fit or there operating manual tells them to is all that needs to be said. There is nothing stopping them getting the whole lot out for your arrival after having an engine fart due carb icing or finger problems pulling the mixture off by accident.

And different controllers and different airports may give different levels dependent on time of day, and if the fire service have pissed them off and they know a good telly program is on. Hell I have had a full responce including external support for a pressurisation failure which occured 40 mins before we landed. It obviously didn't occur to them that we had passed 4 diversion airfields on the way to them.

I can completely understand where HFD is coming from and it would be the same on my type on a training detail. An engine out due to failing to restart isn't the end of the world. I certainly don't think I am going to die and I don't require any special assistance. But I know fine that if you land with a prop feathered they are going to be very upset if you haven't told them. But thankfully when we are playing silly buggers turning engines off its the TRE's signature in the tech log not mine and he can declare whatever he likes.

PAX onboard and my signature in the techlog and a real shut down it would be a MAYDAY.

Jumbo Driver
9th Jun 2009, 11:43
I think there can be no hard and fast rule about this, HFD.

From the pilot's point of view, the circumstances of the failure together with the experience of the pilot and the weather conditions should normally be a guide as to which call to make. On the other hand, I think it is quite correct to say that ATC's reaction to a single-engine-out operation on a twin will be the same, regardless of whether an Urgency or Distress call is made. Perhaps the real clue is in the the terms used to describe these two calls.

In your situation, you clearly required a degree of priority but it was probably not felt to be life-threatening - so I believe a Pan call might have been more appropriate. In the circumstances you describe, you could say that if you knew why the engine would not re-start and/or it was unlikely to affect the other engine, then it should be a Pan call but if the cause was unknown and might reasonably be about affect the other engine, then a Mayday would be more appropriate.

Simply put, I feel the decision is PIC's on the day ... and in retrospect your event could have been managed quite adequately as a Pan call. However, this is not to criticise the Mayday call that was made. The overriding principle must be, if in doubt, to call the Mayday and then downgrade when confident of the situation - that must always be tactically better than the other way around.


9th Jun 2009, 11:49
Mayday is an emergency call, like an engine failure.

Pan Pan is an urgency call, eg high engine temps, very sick passenger, window blown out etc.

in my opinion, I believe the right call was made.

hugh flung_dung
11th Jun 2009, 19:53
Thanks all for your opinions. I think there is a general reluctance to use the "M" word but it certainly gets attention and takes away any doubt from the situation.
In our case, from making the call to being on the ground was probably less than 10 minutes and it was a quiet time of day. We had no handling or performance issues so if there had been a longer transit or we were causing lots of disruption I would have suggested downgrading to a PAN.

As I said before, the chap handled it well. He even managed to roll off the runway and cross the hold line using the live engine so that the runway was kept open. The only thing he forgot (until prompted) was to center the rudder trimmer before landing.
The engine gremlins must have jumped overboard when we landed because the engine started easily on the ground!

MJ, what can I say?:O


Jumbo Driver
11th Jun 2009, 20:12
Well, HFD, at least that would have counted as a Training Flight for his SEP revalidation ... :ok:

... and I hope in this case you weren't "left feeling unsatisfied (http://www.pprune.org/4867081-post1.html)" ... ;)


12th Jun 2009, 06:41
The only thing he forgot (until prompted) was to center the rudder trimmer before landing.

Why bother? (Assuming he was in trim on base & early final. If trim was fully deflected then I understand.)


12th Jun 2009, 12:13
Well its only what that mad errr lady said. And if you are CRI on MEP you more experienced than most.

And must admit I am a bit confused about winding the rudder trim off before landing. Its years since I flew a MEP but my current type abit 1050shp each side is very similar in handling to a MEP (ie ****e at MTOW and no powered controls) I have never wound it off and it has never been picked up on by the gods that sign the bits of paper.

I don't do it because you have to hold a constant pressure on the pedals and for the go around it at least gives you a bit of a help for the power coming on. And for the landing you are using your dead leg so to speak to squeeze the yaw off not the one which has been dealing with the engine failure.

Would be interested to know anyone's thoughts on the matter though.

hugh flung_dung
12th Jun 2009, 12:35
JD: you'll be pleased to hear that a feeling of warm satisfaction flooded over me (and yes, the SEPL was signed too):ok:

O8 and MJ:
When I did my original MEPL course I was taught to centre the rudder trim during the pre-landing checks to avoid false and confusing cues. When I did my MEP FI course we looked at the effect of landing with the trim set as it would be for a single-engine cruise and the yaw on landing was "peculiar". TBH it seemed sensible and I've taught to others what I was taught and never thought about it.
I suppose it's a bit like sex really - we all think we're doing the same as everyone else, but we rarely get the chance for standardisation:E


12th Jun 2009, 13:06
Now this is just me.

I always keep her trimmed out on rudder whatever stage of flight we are at so for final approach I will be at 55-60% torque and we keep this until 200ft. Final landing checks apart from flows and clearance would be at 1000ft so you would have to hold on the leg that has just been putting in 35lbs of force on the departure until cruise. So you would be holding about 20lbs constant pressure On the go-around you would have to bang in the full boot again and then trim out for the next shot.

To be honest now I have to have a dual seat check, if they fail the same engine both times the whole RHS exercise comes down to a stamina exercise of which ever leg and that's without holding it on approach.

As for the yaw change on landing I haven't really thought about it to be honest, these days the feet do their own thing and sort the picture out for me.

12th Jun 2009, 20:50
I just remain in trim at all times - as much as workload permits. So I suppose I don't have a "centre the trim" check on final. Happily I'm mostly flying an aircraft with a very easy-to-use rudder trim, so it takes little effort to stay in trim from climb, to cruise, to descent. As for landing - "the feet do their own thing" - amen to that!

12th Jun 2009, 20:59
MAYDAY - it could be contaminated fuel and the other few ponies that you have, maybe about to give up too.


many other things.

Get on the ground as soon as you can safely...

12th Jun 2009, 21:13
Just had a PM confirming your God status of all things teaching to do with aircraft HFD.

Good luck with your new MEP student she seems very keen ;)