View Full Version : Joys and complications of teaching emergencies

Genghis the Engineer
29th Jul 2016, 10:01
I instructed an EASA Biennal yesterday - the student, a good PPL I've known for a few years and have instructed before, requested we do a session on handling in-flight emergencies.

Take it as read that we briefed, flew the brief, and debriefed.

The emergencies we covered were full engine failure, partial engine failure, avionics fire, engine fire. All good fun and games, the first two I've dealt with myself in real life, the other two I've certainly briefed and practiced myself more times than I can count myself.

But it concentrated my mind on a few aspects of how PPLs* usually handle emergencies - at least when they're flying with me. Quite a lot of it I tend to think is wrong, and must presumably originate in their original teaching. I'd appreciate other people's thoughts...

This is definitely the most common fault I see. So, I "fail" the engine on my student, and they throw themselves straight into setting up and executing the field landing, with usually absolutely no thought about trying to investigate and rectify the problem that caused the engine failure - even if there's loads of height and thus time to do so.

This still happens when I partially fail the power, and make it clear that that's what I did. I've heard a few times the expression "the aeroplane now belongs to the insurer", and that seems to be somewhere behind this failure to identify the potential that partial power gives to alleviate and expand the options to solve the situation.

Okay, engine won't re-start (if they tried!), and the student picks their field, and will then do absolutely everything within their power to make that particular field. Better field presents itself - they ignore it. The selected field starts to seem very poor as they get close to it - won't throw it away and take a different option.

As I said in yesterday's debrief, if you walk away from an engine failure - absolutely nobody will ask if you made the field you were aiming for!

Whilst we're at it, the number of times over my few years of instructing I've pulled the engine well within glide range of the runway of a disused airfield with a clear runway - and they still set up for a field. Is there a mentality that using a runway is somehow "cheating"?

I suspect that this has its roots in the very limited number of emergencies that tend to get taught in both the PPL and CPL syllabi. Students will tend to assume from the first sign of any symptom that they know what the problem and correct responses are. I find that I really need to force the issue to get pilots to take enough time to properly diagnose what is going on, and develop an appropriate response.

A lot of this comes down to an acronym that certainly I've met in numerous CRM / safety refreshers - DODAR...


(rinse and repeat as often as required).

I believe that this is fairly universally taught nowadays, but I really wonder how often it really finds its way from the briefing room to the cockpit? I seem to see, probably 80% of the time in most PPLs just "Decide, Act", with no initial Diagnosis, and virtually nothing by way of subsequent Review of actions and whether those continue to be appropriate to the developing emergency.

Thoughts anybody?


* I single out PPLs, simply because I've instructed only a couple of people with professional licences, and don't think I've seen a meaningful sample.

29th Jul 2016, 12:06
It's been a few years since I did instructing, or flew a single engine piston for that matter. Despite, I'll try to share my thoughts.

(1) From the very first week in flight training, even before we actually practiced any form of emergency, we were required to know the engine failure checklist by heart. Following an 'engine failure' we would get it done, touch drilled, within seconds (Fuel selector, Fuel SOV, Mixture, Aux Fuel Pump, Ignition..as for the trouble shooting). Similar to the memory items in an airliner. As I recall we never even picked up the checklist, which resulted in a crude awakening in FAA land where it would be a fail item for not using the checklist. To my knowledge, I never got it wrong though..

We all know it should be weighed against hight (or time) available. This decision - to fly the plane first - will be done close to split second and, for an inexperienced PPL holder, more conservatively than an experienced instructor. I have seen the polar opposite too of those who tried to get the checklist done no matter what, when the situation clearly asked for someone to fly the plane. Could it be that they were too unsure of the checklist content (or memory items if you will) that in the stress they just proceeded to focus on getting the landing done safely?

I always taught the engine failure drill as memory items and only use the checklist if time permits. Sending an emergency message and briefing the passengers I see more important than pulling out the checklist which, if you've studied well, you'll get right 99% of the time anyway. But this might not be how the real world looks like with some only flying a few hours a year?

(2) Dynamic situation with no clear answer, in my opinion. As you've witnessed there are situations of field fixation. I remember being subject to it myself. I think, however, there's also merit to sticking to the plan. I have seen some acts of late decisions leading to a right messy situation. Much depends on the terrain. If there's miles of flat land a late decision to change is more forgiving than if it's forest or rock. As an instructor I think it's our task to find that balance. Tell your student when they missed a perfect opportunity down on their right side, but don't make it black or white. It will widen their perspective. Again, experience level and stress will affect when a field swap is appropriate and when not.

(3) Is DODAR taught also in the context of flying single engine piston? This is just my opinion, take it for what it's worth. Even in an airliner context this mnemonics are a bit overkill. They look good on paper and in CRM classes but is rarely of any real assistance in the flight deck. I was one criticised by a trainer for keeping a 150 nm fix ring of a suitable alternate for time critical emergencies (fire or fumes, heart attack etc.) with the motivation I was suffering from confirmation bias. Instead I should run a decision making process a la DODAR. If anything they are for non time critical abnormal situations as an assistance to channelise our thought process. This is something we rarely practice in single engine private flying, but maybe we should? An example would be you're on a long cross country flight and you recieve reports that the weather is closing in on your destination.


29th Jul 2016, 14:23
A large majority of PPLs will squander what height they have trying to remember all that's involved with investigate/rectify, usually at 100knots and a 1000fpm down, missing numerous ideal fields along the way. This leaves them with much less time to get it right and far less options. Over the years I've worked at a dozen different schools and, almost without exception, PFLs are usually carried out at around 2300 to 2500 on the QNH (being the most likely altitude for the occurrence) with the first actions being trim for best glide, assess wind, pick field and plan an approach. Only then are restart checks carried out. Otherwise, by the time they've fumbled through trying to find the cause and half remembered the mayday call, they run out of options and are usually too high or too low for the field that was picked in a panic.

31st Jul 2016, 09:35
MrAverage wrote: Over the years I've worked at a dozen different schools and, almost without exception, PFLs are usually carried out at around 2300 to 2500 on the QNH (being the most likely altitude for the occurrence) with the first actions being trim for best glide, assess wind, pick field and plan an approach. Only then are restart checks carried out. Otherwise, by the time they've fumbled through trying to find the cause and half remembered the mayday call, they run out of options and are usually too high or too low for the field that was picked in a panic.

I agree. Unless there are flames visible, requiring immediate action, do as above!

No psychobabbling headshrinker hor$e**** mnemonics are needed - look for a safe place, then try to sort out the cause and rectify if possible (e.g. dry tank), then tell someone, then switch off the radio and concentrate on making a safe landing, not forgetting forced landing preparatory actions.

Genghis the Engineer
1st Aug 2016, 21:46
Trim and point into a safe area, try and fix by sweeping across the cockpit, if unsuccessful, proceed with PFL, keep reviewing wisdom of actions whatever you did.

Which is DODAR basically, which I like, but only in the briefing room. No, it doesn't belong - as a mnemonic, in the cockpit.

By an uncanny and suspicious coincidence, I had a phone call this morning from the student I did the biennial with. Two days after flying with me, he had a partial power failure on a BE23. He did as we'd drilled - pointed at good fields with the aircraft trimmed aggressively for best glide. Then sweep the cockpit looking for solutions, he switched tanks (as I'd drilled with him), power restored breathed sigh of relief, went home. On the ground they found the remains of a bee partially blocking the breather on one side - preventing continuous high power fuel flow but not readily detectable on the ground in a normal power check. He reckoned from realising he had a problem to solving it he lost 400ft.

He was in a good mood and felt he'd got value from his biennial, I reserve the right to act smug for the next few days.


2nd Aug 2016, 07:57
DODAR is normally taught at the MCC stage, certainly not during PPL training.

Look at the PPL syllabus, out of 25 hours dual training, that barely leaves 1 hour to teach the PFL Exercise 16. Typically, it will need around 3 flights to ensure the candidate has the skill to glide the aircraft from around 2500 ft to a survivable landing in a field. The object is to walk away, not write a book about it in the 4 miinutes it takes to get there.

There is a huge difference between Professional flying where all these ideas come from and Recreational flying where most PPL holders are operating on the basis of just enough training to cover the basic skills and consolidation is based upon the size of their wallet.

For the PPL:

Diagnose - Engine is not as it should be
Options? - Land or Crash
Decide - Land
Act - Do your best to land in one piece
Review - Could have picked a better field (post landing!)

3rd Aug 2016, 02:33
Been years since I instructed, but when I did full time, one thing I did with all my primary students in the C150/152 is distract them enough I could flip the fuel shutoff without being seen.

Didn't matter how many times we'd simulated an engine failure and practiced the flow, when the engine actually quit without my hand on the throttle, they most often froze, and completely ignored the steps to restore power. Only had one or two that found the shutoff without my prompting.

BTW, I always did this within gliding range of a private grass strip I knew of, just in case. Never an issue though, engine was always happy to run when fuel was restored.

3rd Aug 2016, 07:20
...one thing I did with all my primary students in the C150/152 is distract them enough I could flip the fuel shutoff without being seen.

Hardly a valid failure scenario - "Your passenger has just turned off the fuel"?

People might have failed to turn on the fuel prior to start and subsequently come to an unexpected stop during taxying, but unless you're flying something with a fuel selector which goes through 'OFF' when switching between 'LEFT' and 'RIGHT', I cannot see that deliberately turning off the fuel supply is a likely event.

3rd Aug 2016, 07:44
In my time I have had four engine problems up to 1993.
Since then non, so it looks like the engines are getting more reliable (or me lucky).

1/ Whilst learning to fly PA28, with instructor, PFL, at 200 feet asked to go-around, no response from engine, we landed in wheat filed.
Lesson learnt.....warm the engine and I like to see at least 2-3 times from starting at 2500 feet and full throttle check. Also always pick a field you can get into just in case.

2/ Instructing C150, losing power approaching airfield, chopped power and committed to x/w runway. Next day warned another instructor that the a/c should be grounded, he flew and immediately returned to a/f for a forced landing.
Lesson learnt...slightest suspicion of anything wrong ground the a/c. It apparently had a history of problems. Engine strip, one piston was breaking up, piston rings gone.

3/Loss of power PA28 at 6000 feet doing stalls above overcast haze.
Engine power slowly restored whilst me trying to fix problem and fix my position.
After landing engine stopped and caught fire. Discovered extinguishers only last about 3 seconds. Carb mod not done caused the issue.
Lesson learnt..in an emergency let someone else do the nav. I could have called for a VDF QDM to the field and concentrated on keeping the engine going. a/c ADF u/s.
Although once given a QDM across a built up area following another engine problem, so not always the best.

4/ Partial power PA28 with very rough engine on a T/L at 1300 feet.
Committed to put down straight ahead into a field. Could I have made it back to the a/f 5 miles away? Well I am still here and so is the aircraft, so good decision.
Fault was exhaust valve failure, which punctured the piston head.
Lesson learnt..commitment, make a decision and stick to it.

So all of these have coloured my out look on (p)fl's.

P.S. I have witnessed a trainee kill the good engine on a check flight in a Seneca over the Channel by switching off the mags on the live engine, so using the checklist can't prevent finger trouble. Switching them back on two seconds later is what made us sweat!

3rd Aug 2016, 07:52
I get my C152 trainees to check fuel on, it just might be that the headset lead gets caught under the lever and gets pulled off.
Would be interesting to know how far the lever has to be turned to cause a problem.

Mags have been known to be kicked off by large tags and knees.

3rd Aug 2016, 17:43
I had a student turn the fuel to off during the restart drills while doing a PFL in our Cub. Fortunately I realised what had happened and managed to get him to turn it back on (I can't reach the fuel valve from the back seat) and the engine restarted at 200ft. Good job too, because we would have hit the far hedge in the field he had chosen if we had to land. Doh!

The lesson I learned from this is to clearly brief "touch drills only" during Emergency drills.

3rd Aug 2016, 18:58
Hardly a valid failure scenario - "Your passenger has just turned off the fuel"?

Fuel shutoff between the seats just above the floor. I seriously doubt it's never accidently been bumped off or moved. In any case, the actual purpose was for them to experience a loss of power that wasn't obviously faked. To them, for a few seconds, it was real. The typical reaction was to turn to me and perform a great impression of a goldfish. Their mouths moved, but no sound came out.

3rd Aug 2016, 23:28
Have been told of someone who pulled a mixture control on a Arrow thinking it was the prop. control on climb out.
Well it reduced the RPM!

4th Aug 2016, 09:06
I think you have a misconception of the purpose of tools like DODAR. They are intended as a structure to help decision making when time is available following completion of any non-normal manoeuvre or checklist. They are not intended as a time-critical guide to cockpit actions.

The initial actions are the same anywhere - ANC and run the appropriate drill or checklist, which in your case boils down to establishing the aircraft in the glide with an option in kind before commencing your relight drills.

Genghis the Engineer
4th Aug 2016, 12:57
If that's aimed at me JWS, then the CRMI I work and discussed this with has it wrong too.

Yes, make the immediate flight safe - absolutely. But what I'm critiquing is the norm of assuming that people know exactly what's the problem and exactly what to do, rather than taking the time to properly assess and then take appropriate actions - where there's time and height to do so of course.

Similarly, failure to review actions once decided. The "R", as scenarios develop - they aren't simple A happened, so do B, end of story.


4th Aug 2016, 14:36
Some of the 150/2s I've flown have had the fuel wired open, others you needed a wrench to close it. Seems some schools/operators just don't like having it fiddled with.
I think a pax pulling the mixture or shutting the throttle is an entirely realistic scenario, some folk just can't help but fiddle. Wasn't a Rockwell twin lost many years ago due to pax interference?

Oh, and wasn't a Tristar lost in the Everglades when they were trying to change the bulb in the undercarriage warning and knocked off the autopilot without noticing?


4th Aug 2016, 21:59
GtE, the way I've encountered these tools and been taught to use the. in airline and corporate training has not been as an initial diagnosis tool or model. The sequence taught by my current airline (which uses T-DODAR) is:


1. Fly the aircraft (ANC - manual/automatic flight)
2. Identify the failure
3. Memory and QRH drills
4. Analyse the situation and make a decision (T-DODAR)

And so on depending on the situation and actions.

The point you are making about diagnosing the failure is a very good one (iirc the chances of a fatal outcome are higher for a a partial than a full power loss,) but in my view is different to the D of DODAR. I think the big metal analogy for what you are talking about is running an incorrect checklist or executing an incorrect manoeuvre rather than not running through a decision making process.

A big Irish loco uses PIOSEE to make decisions - Problem, Information, Options, Select, Execute, Evaluate. I believe others use FORDEC - Facts, Options, Risks, Decide, Execute, Check.

In your partial failure case, it might look some thing like:

- Bang/vibration
- Fly the aircraft - level off, wings level, appropriate speed/trim
- Identify the problem - checklist/memory actions ie carb heat, fuel, mags &c

At this point you are left with either a failed engine, limited power or a fully working engine.

In the first case your choice is made and you simply execute a forced landing. In the second and third, you have a decision to make, at which point DODAR, PIOSEE or FORDEC enters the equation and a structured tool is of great value.

Having re-read your original post, I think we are actually coming at the same thing but from different staring points, which is making the appropriate response to the failure, rather than simply incorrectly pattern matching.

Big Pistons Forever
7th Aug 2016, 19:21
A big part of the problem in training of the engine fail scenario in ab initio flight instruction is, IMO, the fact that it is almost invariably directly linked to passing the flight test forced approach exercise.

This exercise starts with the examiner closing the throttle and announcing "simulated engine failure" so that is generally the way the exercise is presented in training.

The problem is this scenario, a perfectly normally running engine suddenly stops producing all power is the least likely engine failure scenario in the real world.

Most real world engine failures, accident stats show around 80 %, are caused by an action or inaction on the part of the pilot with the majority involving carb icing and fuel exhaustion/mis-selection/contamination.

In addition for every total engine failure incident/accident reports suggest that there are at least 3 partial power losses.

The "AHH HAA" moment for me was a crash of a locally based C 172 flown by a newly licensed PPL. His engine failed over very unforgiving terrain. He made a successful forced approach to a nasty bit of a clear area. The airplane was wrecked and there were some injuries but everyone involved recover fully. The general consensus was his forced approach was pretty good and it was unlikely that any of us could have flown it in such a way as to get a better outcome.

But the killer detail was when the wreck was salvaged. It had 12 gals on fuel in the right tank and no fuel in the left tank and the fuel selector was set to left tank.:ugh:

I talked to the pilot and he admitted that as soon as the engine failed he reverted to flight test mode. The engine never restarts in the flight test, it is all about flying the perfect forced approach. His instructor never emphasized the engine fail cause check drills and so he defaulted to flying the forced approach when all that was required was to turn the fuel selector 90 degrees and full power would have been restored........

This student was not taught by me, but he could have been. This accident made me start looking into accident stats for an indication of real world engine failures and forced a fundamental re-evaluation of how I prepared students for engine power loss, not just how to pass the forced approach exercise on the PPL flight test

The result is I now teach the Forced Approach lesson in 3 parts

Part 1: How not to cause or abet in causing the engine to fail. This starts on the very first lesson with an discussion about fuel expressed in "time in the tanks". Every subsequent flight will start with the student telling me what duration the fuel load will give and it continues with adding detail to the " so whats" of the what and why of our actions in the pre flight inspection and the run up checks. Also introduced at a very early stage is checklist discipline including effective flow checks

Part 2: Attaining proficiency with all the emergency procedures. especially the vital actions memory drills for the big ticket emergencies including fire ( cabin and engine), EFATO, and loss of engine fire, and loss of visual references

Part 3: This is the actual forced approach lesson. It starts with the aircraft trimmed for best glide a suitable field selected and the aircraft pointed at the field. At this point the power loss cause check is carried out as touch drills. Failure to complete an effective cause check stops the exercise right there and results in a debrief and restart. The first few lessons will be the traditional full loss of power with a glide approach to a suitable landing area. After that I will mix things up by

- Initiating the loss of power by simulating an engine fire requiring an engine shut down
- Restoring full power when the cause check is done
- Instead of closing the throttle, reduce the RPM to a lower value, once with just enough power to sustain level flight and once with less than enough power to sustain level flight

8th Aug 2016, 08:56
BPF - I think (some) checklists could be to blame. One instructor taught me to CHECK FUEL FIRST as this is often the cause. THEN the check/restart procedure from the checklist, by memory.

Genghis the Engineer
8th Aug 2016, 12:01
I think that this is very much about how you use the checklist.

If you treat the checklist as "read-do", then you end up behaving in a very different way in such circumstances to "do - confirm".

I would advocate do-confirm for most emergencies in light GA. Pilots should act according to their understanding and training, then IF THERE IS TIME confirm with the checklist that they've not missed anything critical.


8th Aug 2016, 13:11
I was always taught: trim to best glide speed, try to identify the failure and rectify if possible THEN get out the checklist, make a MAYDAY call whilst choosing your field and do your committed checks using the checklist.

Simulated engine fires were always interesting; whats the best way to get down flaps to 40 and 'dive' or slipstream?

8th Aug 2016, 13:40
My first instructor who was a former BoB pilot who said he saw many pilots trying to blow out flames by diving. Never worked.
Under discussion he made the suggestion to slow to the stall to stop the prop and stop feeding the fire with fuel and oil.

Have demonstrated this several times at height overhead the airfield.
Pull mixture and show the trainee the prop doesn't stop, until close to stall speed. Then have restarted the engine (yes I have done a few power off landings, bit silly looking back but nice to know what it feels like).

Reminds them the need to warm engine, just to check it's still running normally.

8th Aug 2016, 13:44
My first instructor who was a former BoB pilot who said he saw many pilots trying to blow out flames by diving. Never worked.

I was always told to dive or slipstream just to get the aircraft on the ground!

Genghis the Engineer
8th Aug 2016, 17:03
crablab - thanks for contributing, but don't forget that you may be the only non-instructor on the discussion, and most of us have had a fair share of real emergencies to deal with as well.


8th Aug 2016, 17:11
:ooh: Fair enough

EDIT: I don't doubt that - was only passing on what I'd been told to do, happy to accept alternative suggestions as that's the nature of the beast - there isn't 'one' solution...

Big Pistons Forever
8th Aug 2016, 22:01
Re: emergency drills, my 02 cents

1) I am a big believer in cockpit flows for all normal, abnormal and emergency checks. When I was last CFI at a flight school I rewrote all the checklist so that the actions all occurred in the same order. So that for a C 172 in this case, you started at the floor mounted fuel selector and made a counter clockwise circle around the instrument panel. The physical airplane then becomes the "ckecklist" and the written version was only consulted after the actions were complete, and in the case of emergencies if practicable and time permitting. I found that students who learned the flows well virtually never found that they had missed an action after doing the flows and then consulting the written checklist.

2) I see a lot of emergency drills handled by the student verbalizing the actions. I think this is poor practice as I think it is important to develop muscle memory so that the hands start going to the right places when the pressure is on. One good way to do this is to sit in a not running aircraft on the ground and practice moving all the appropriate knobs and levers as the student runs through each of the checks requiring memory vital actions.

3) I only simulate engine failure by closing the throttle never by pulling the mixture or shutting off the fuel. I once had a student go to shut down the engine. He pulled on the mixture knob and it came right out of the panel as the engine died because the mixture cable rod end failed at the carb end. We had just come back from doing practice forced approaches.........
Another instructor used to turn off the fuel on the C 150, until the day the handle came off in his hand, fortunately before the valve rotated to off........

9th Aug 2016, 00:41
My very first multi-engine lesson, after we'd flown about 45 minutes and I get acquainted with the Apache, the instructor slapped the right mixture back to simulate an engine failure. After trimming and establishing proper SE flight, he returned the mixture control to cruise setting, and the engine failed to start. The cable had broken at the carb linkage. So my first ME lesion included a real SE approach and landing, which seriously wasn't all that difficult on a 5000' runway. We were based at a 2200' runway though, and that would have been interesting with one feathered.

I've also had the mixture control come apart at the panel. Engine died. I just crammed everything forward back in place and held it there while student flew back to base. New mixture control cable installed.

11th Dec 2017, 09:49
Interested to know what height do other instructors go around after a PFL?

Scenario is a flat field, good Wx with a competent student and no obstacles.
I know some instructors who G/A at 500ft and others at 10ft. I'm usually somewhere between the two, but interested in other opinions.


Genghis the Engineer
11th Dec 2017, 13:37
Personally rarely above 100ft unless there's an issue with separation from the usual, a safe go-around, or the student has made such a hash of it that it's already obvious to them (as well as me) it's never going to work out. I like the student (or me when practicing solo) to have a clear picture of where the roundout and landing will go. 50-100ft normally, so long as there is nobody to annoy and I'm not breaching "rule 5"*.


*Yes, I know that SESAR superceded rule 5, but it's still a useful label for the principle.

11th Dec 2017, 18:08
BPF. Fully support the flow approach which develops that important muscle memory and works well for pretty much all of the GA aircraft.

As for teaching it, the formal lesson is just that. I'm of the view that I'm introducing elements of the (P)FL from effect of controls (mixture, throttle, carb heat) onwards. FREDA has the fuel calculation and tank swap (where appropriate) element and when estimating the effects of wind on track and groundspeed I usually make a point of showing it in the glide as well as with power. All that builds towards the formal PFL teaching. After the formal lesson, my students can expect a PFL at any time and from any altitude on the transit to or from the training area right up until their skills test.

11th Dec 2017, 20:13
A calm, beautiful day greeted me on the occasion of my first post-solo flight. I performed a very thorough and deliberate preflight walk-around followed by entering the cockpit, buckling my seatbelt, and shouting "CLEAR" as I started 757WW's Lycoming 0-235 engine. A comm check gave me that morning's barometer as well as the current airport advisory. The tower gave me choice of runway; I chose 15 as its extended centerline proceeded directly over our oceanside house which was about one quarter mile from McKinnon airport. I loved to "waggle" my wings at my wife and son who were usually in our backyard or on the beach on severe clear days like this one.

I taxied to 15's runup area, pointed the aircraft into what little breeze there was, and did a mag drop and carb heat check. Everything indicating in the green, I sought and was granted permission for immediate takeoff. My seat was a little further forward than I liked, so I slid it backwards, recinched the belt, and closed the door which I'd left open for ventilation. I swung on to the runway, selected full power and 10 degrees of flap. More than 3,000 feet of runway was before me and fuel was full in both wing tanks. A smooth rotation and I was airborne seconds later. That is when ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE! :sad:

A very loud and rapid metallic clattering filled the cockpit and permeated my headphone set. With heart in throat, I scanned the instrument panel and found all to be within normal limits. As I gained speed the volume and frequency of the cacophony increased! I was waiting to see pistons flying out of the cowling, followed by oil and flames. I had enough runway to land, but knew if I miscalculated that I might wind up in our backyard with my son and wife wrapped around a windmilling prop! :{

Then, for reasons I cannot explain, I glanced to my left and noticed that the distal end of my safety belt was hanging about six inches outside of the aircraft. Its metallic end was beating the $hit out of double shot's fuselage and pulling some sort of serious sadomasochistic punishment on my withering brain. I maintained climb and power, opened my door, retrieved the errant belt, closed the door, closed my eyes, and thanked the Almighty for His intervention in a very brief but very heartfelt prayer. :)

I flew for a joyous and redemptive hour out over the Atlantic and the Golden Isles of Georgia. When I returned, I noted with satisfaction the fact that my little Cessna had narry a blemish from the seatbelt's flagellation. When I told my flight instructor what had transpired, he asked me if I had followed my mental emergency checklist. I assured him that I had and he congratulated me. Then he said "That's one mistake you'll never repeat!" And I never did... :rolleyes:

- Ed

12th Dec 2017, 20:09
'Was discussing this topic briefly with my instructor today;

For what it's worth, when carrying out PFLs (and precautionary landings) all three instructors I've flown these exercises with initiated the go-around not at a specific height, but only once certain (well. . confident) that we would make it into the selected field successfully in a real life scenario.

Difficult to say accurately what sort of height this is usually at, as we've often got our home airfield's QNH or the RPS on the altimeter and practice forced landings near rural areas of high ground, but definitely well under 500ft or so.

5th Jan 2018, 11:31
Select and trim for best glide, select field and plan how to get to it come first. Then try to identify reason for failure - reason for this is that all the time spent not finding the field is lessening your options.

The reason people tend to stick to their original choice even when a better field presents itself is mental overload - they don't have the capacity to change their plan. The solution is more practice.

Go around height - the better the approach is, the lower I let them get because this gives them confidence that it really would have worked and Im confident that if the engine fails to pick up when asked then we can land safely - I climb away much earlier when its clear they are making a mess of things and my options if the engine really fails are disappearing.
I did once have an engine cough and splutter when at about 100' - that concentrates the mind a bit!

6th Jan 2018, 10:23
Typically, it will need around 3 flights to ensure the candidate has the skill to glide the aircraft from around 2500 ft to a survivable landing in a field

A bit of history from the early 1950 era when I learned to fly on Tiger Moths where every approach to land was by a glide - not a powered approach. If power was needed to salvage a under-shooting approach to land, you lost Brownie Points and needed further dual until such times you could consistently land safely off a full glide approach from the time you closed the throttle on mid-base leg.
Same technique of glide approaches applied to Austers, Chipmunks and Cessna light singles. Turn base in level flight, maintain height on base, and when you judged you could safely glide in you simply closed the throttle and used airmanship. If you were forced to fly further downwind in the circuit because of an idiot flying a 747 circuit, you maintained circuit height as usual on base and if necessary early final still in level flight, then closed the throttle when you felt you had it made and did a glide. Of course with heavier types powered approaches made sense. A full flap glide approach in the Australian Wirraway (similar to a Harvard) was quite alarming with its very nose down steep approach to keep the speed up and gradual early round-out because of inertia. Powered approaches were the norm in those types

For the light trainers, when the time came for practice forced landings in the training area you were already reasonably competent at glide approaches.

Somewhere along the years all that changed when the first Cessna and Piper singles equipped with flaps came into the aeroclubs. Now glide approaches were only introduced for practice forced landings in the circuit. Engine assisted landing approaches became the norm, despite it was unnecessary. The Cessna manuals said landings could be done with or without power. So you didn't need powered approaches except under certain circumstances. So today we have the complicated version of turning base clean, throttle set to 1500RPM - lower a little flap at a certain airspeed. Progressively lower a bit more flap at a new airspeed (flap against power..) and the resulting combination was different speeds for variable flap settings settings; all the while maintaining 12-1500 RPM for a powered approach.
No wonder students had trouble remembering all the combinations of RPM, airspeeds and flap settings.

Why do you think the time to first solo has blown out to 15-20 hours as against the average of 8-10 hours in the early days of Tiger Moths which had no flaps, no radios and required a keener judgement of the glide path

Big Pistons Forever
6th Jan 2018, 18:43
A bit of history from the early 1950 era when I learned to fly on Tiger Moths......

Why do you think the time to first solo has blown out to 15-20 hours as against the average of 8-10 hours in the early days of Tiger Moths which had no flaps, no radios and required a keener judgement of the glide path

Why do you think the light aircraft accident rate was 4 times worse in 1950's compared to today ?

Dr Jekyll
6th Jan 2018, 20:05
Emergency procedures seem a bit more complicated on Phantoms

F-4 Phantom FGR2, 228 Phantom OCU, RAF Coningsby and RAF F4 Phantom XV436 (http://www.projectoceanvision.com/vox-05.htm)

Scroll to "The sad end of F4 Phantom FGR2 XV436"

7th Jan 2018, 09:03
Why do you think the light aircraft accident rate was 4 times worse in 1950's compared to today ? You tell me. No idea of the reliability of statistics of that era. Met reports not as reliable maybe? Lack of sophisticated ATC radar coverage? Flying instructors were mostly experienced ex wartime pilots as against the 200 hour newbie instructors nowadays, so that wasn't a problem.

Whatever the case you quote, if true, there is no correlation between an experienced instructor sending a student on his first solo under 10 hours and an inexperienced instructor taking 20 hours.

Big Pistons Forever
7th Jan 2018, 15:59

If the sky god instructors of the 1950's were so great you would think that their superiorly taught students that were good enough to solo in 8 to 10 hrs would not have crashed at rate 4 times higher than today.

My perception of the The subtext of your comment was yet another tiresome iteration of the old "yesterdays instructors were so much better then today's instructors" mantra.

It bothers me because it shuts down any objective conversation around looking at what was good and not so good with instructional techniques back in the day and compare that to today's instruction with the aim of combining the best parts of both. A simplistic example is applying Treat and Error Management concepts to an issue but also keeping the ball in the middle.

For what it is worth after almost 30 years of instructing I found that my students time to solo increased but the time to complete the PPL decreased and the flight test scores were much higher.

This is because I came to understand the importance of properly teaching the foundation flying skills before the student started into the circuit as well as wanting to make sure that no matter what happened on that first solo the student was well prepared.

8th Jan 2018, 11:46
This is because I came to understand the importance of properly teaching the foundation flying skills before the student started into the circuit as well as wanting to make sure that no matter what happened on that first solo the student was well prepared.

Well said. Time to solo really is irrelevant and can become a distraction for students. Getting the basics right is the most important phase and will generally lead to the student completing with a good skills test pass in the shortest time.

As for fully preparing the student for the first solo, I couldn't agree more which is why all of our students practice a diversion and landaway before first solo. There's no guarantee that the airfield will stay open once they have taken off.

12th Jan 2018, 14:50

If the conditions are right, the instructor is really qualified, the area is wide open with many options out of field, pushing the limits is the best way to learn, bearing in mind that the best and safest action will always be to fight the instinct to go back to that stretch of concrete, land ahead, be ready to sacrifice the a/c..

If **** ever hits the fan one day, less startling effect delaying actions and preventing smooth and coordinated inputs, enhanced confidence and control to avoid stall and spin scenario,will come to rescue, it can mean the difference betwen life and death.
Know your plane, know your limits, know the safe parameters speed and altitude, practice the real life scenario.