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Genghis the Engineer
9th Dec 2018, 11:19
I had an incident yesterday which, thankfully, ended harmlessly, but has got my grey cells going.

Scenario - instructing a lapsed PPL trying to get his licence back. Normal brief, taxi, checks, bit of a delay as the airfield was busy, then he flew the take-off. I had briefed that if there was an emergency, it'd be a real one (planned sortie was 15 minutes local GH then back into the circuit), I would allow him to handle it until I decided otherwise.

Normal take-off run (strong headwind that I'd not have sent him solo in, but was quite happy with me on board), and then started climb. Around 300ft we lost climb rate from an initial and normal 700ish FPM to a less normal 250fpm. Student and I simultaneously identified this and after a few microseconds of decision making time, I decided that a rusty lapsed PPL shouldn't be managing a possible incipient engine failure and took control - I'm pretty certain I heard him sigh with relief.

Rest of the sortie was short and thankfully relatively uneventful. I called a PAN, flew a tight non-standard circuit that kept landable fields in front of me all the time, landed safely. A bit of diagnostic work showed a left mag circuit failure. An engineer this morning found it was a failed plug on that circuit.


The interesting question is the extent to which I did, or should, involve the student in the emergency. In my case, what I did was provide him with a limited narrative of what I was doing, and then we had quite a lengthy debrief (previous sortie I'd been refreshing emergencies with him, conveniently enough, so we were able to baseline my own actions against my teaching!) Fortunately I actually did do pretty much everything, bar a really crap radio call - did I really say "Tower, please consider this a pan :sad:" by the book so I could then also provide a good debrief against that baseline, including CRM aspects and things that I felt in retrospect I could have handled better myself. (That radio call, also I ended up using residual power to correct an inadvertently slightly low approach - thankfully enough power was still there; the low approach was probably my misjudging of the strong headwind.)

Relating this, I've been on two first aid courses in the last year, one for aviation purposes delivered by a CCM trainer, one was a hobby oriented first aid at work course delivered by an A&E nurse. All good fun, both courses we had an emergency during the course.

Course 1 (taught by an A&E nurse, most students martial artists) somebody fainted due to sight of blood on some of the instructional slides! The instructor calmly picked up the required kit, stepped over, and went straight into using the poor unconscious student as a teaching example.

Course 2 (taught by a CCM, most students airborne scientists) somebody managed to fire a live epipen through their own finger. The instructor stopped all teaching, took the incident out of the room, took no measures to inform or manage continued learning of the class. Picked things up again about 45 minutes later with no debrief.


It got me thinking - of course the first concern can only ever be safety actions - whether that's dealing with a possible incipient engine failure, or a first aid emergency. But insofar as there's spare capacity to do so (and certainly afterwards when all is made safe and there's mental and physical space to do so), to what extent has anybody else either engaged, or shut out, a student in the course of dealing with a real emergency. I'm broadly happy with what I did, including pointing out my own mistakes and side much more with my instructor on first aid course 1 than first aid course 2.

G

Jetstream67
9th Dec 2018, 11:33
Aviate, Navigate .......................... Communicate !

Genghis the Engineer
9th Dec 2018, 11:38
You may rest assured, that I prioritised aviating, always knew where I was (given I never left the circuit, that was at least easy!), and only communicated where I had spare capacity to do so -and in particular left the detailed discussion to a lengthy debrief once the aeroplane was back on stand and we had tea and cake in front of us.

Thanks for your detailed contribution.

G

Big Pistons Forever
9th Dec 2018, 21:03
With respect to actual emergencies I brief every student as follows

1) In the event of an emergency that requires immediate action I will immediately take control. The student is to take no action so as to avoid the possibility of us acting at cross purposes. I will expect him to handle all radio calls at my direction ( ie make a PAN call now we are landing on runway XX) so that I can concentrate on flying the airplane and dealing with the emergency. I will also expect him to read any emergency checklists I call for.

2) In the event of an emergency that does not require immediate action ( eg alternator flail light on), I will leave the student in control and coach him through the required actions.

I also tell the student that in event of an aircraft abnormality, we both have a veto with respect to continuing the lesson or returning to the airport immediately.

Duchess_Driver
9th Dec 2018, 21:07
Is that 4 full or partials youíve had now G, or have I missed some?

Genghis the Engineer
10th Dec 2018, 10:53
Good briefing BPF, I may well steal that.

DD: 3 totals in the normal flying environment (blocked fuel filter, failed cylinder head bolt retaining tab, rich cut due to mis-set engine / no cockpit mixture control), 6ish totals in flight testing - all just carb settings or too long at negative g and were restarted, 1 partial in flight test: a fuel pump failure, 2 partials in the normal flying environment: a rubber component loose in the oil sump, and a failed plug (plus one PANed and diverted rough running that in retrospect I think was just carb icing, one alternator failure). Or thereabouts: I don't have a column in the logbook for them, and thinking too hard about it isn't brilliant for my sanity. Ignoring the flight test failures, each one in a different aeroplane (okay two pairs - the rough running and this weekend's partial, and the alternator failure and other partial were each the same aeroplane - albeit several years apart in each case), with the engine maintained by a different person or organisation as well. Only one damaged aircraft on the list. Oh and one incipient - oil pressure dropped to near-zero, just after an engine rebuild, but that the engine behaved fine during the diversion and landing - until it stopped halfway between the runway and parking: that was another aeroplane and maintainer again.

Not quite sure if this all makes me lucky or unlucky, but I sort of get why people sometimes get sent to me for specific refresher training in handling emergencies.

G

Big Pistons Forever
11th Dec 2018, 00:34
Genghis:

With respect to the loss of power incident you related in your OP, IMO you should have made a MAYDAY call rather than a PAN call. Personally I think there is an unfortunate tendency, particularly in light aircraft, towards a “real pilots don’t call a Mayday” mindset. I think this kind of thinking needs to be stamped out and Instructors have a big role here.

jayteeto
11th Dec 2018, 08:25
A student could learn far more by watching you do it (properly of course).
They learn a few things:
Emergencies DO happen, itís important to know drills
They are NOT going to automatically die horribly
It is actually worth listening to this guy/girl, they know their stuff
And of course, what do I do for this particular drill.

leave them hands on and they will be scared and possibly forget what went on

Ascend Charlie
11th Dec 2018, 09:57
You tell me, I forget.
You show me, I might remember.
You let me do it, I learn.

But under the conditions described by G the E, I would have done the same.

Whopity
11th Dec 2018, 10:37
Scenario - instructing a lapsed PPL trying to get his licence back. Normal brief, taxi, checks, bit of a delay as the airfield was busy, then he flew the take-off. I had briefed that if there was an emergency, it'd be a real one (planned sortie was 15 minutes local GH then back into the circuit), I would allow him to handle it until I decided otherwise. Spot on, he is a pilot not a student, albeit an out of practice pilot.
Not in immediate danger is a PAN call.

jayteeto
11th Dec 2018, 10:52
Ascend Charlie, that mantra works well for training. In my 2 engine failures (twin turbines), the last thing on my mind was learning. I was surviving. I did do the correct drills, but I can’t remember much else about it due to trying to think ahead ������

C.King
11th Dec 2018, 11:03
GTE,

I cannot fault your actions/reactions with regard to the airborne malfunction, however with regard to your first aid course examples, while they fit your narrative I believe the second instructor probably acted more professionally.
The question that must be asked was, did the student 'casualties' give informed consent to be used as teaching aids in those scenarios? The instructor who took the student out of the class and then maintained clinical confidentiality to a 'patient', would perhaps be recognised by health professionals as having dealt with the matter more appropriately.
As previously stated, I agree with your narrative, but perhaps not the iron clad example to support it.

Jhieminga
11th Dec 2018, 14:38
The difference in approach for the two first aid examples may also be due to the different risks involved in a fainting spell and an overdose of epi. But we digress.

As for the lapsed PPL, I think I would have done something similar, and I can only hope that I would do it as successfully as GtE has done. I haven't had any engine issues yet (fortunately), beyond some carb ice that was quickly removed after applying carb heat. Had the pilot started off on handling the emergency I might have left him in control, coaching him wherever necessary and remaining on standby to take over at the first sign of him being unhappy with the situation. You can often spot pretty quickly whether a pilot is able to deal with a situation at hand. I wonder if the signs of him operating towards the limits of his capacity weren't there already, however small, prompting the decision to take over.

Genghis the Engineer
11th Dec 2018, 16:16
Many thanks everybody for thoughts and discussion. A few points from me on some of what's been said.

Other than the correct wording should of course have been "pan pan, pan pan, pan pan", not "Tower, please consider this a pan", which is definitely not my finest ever piece of RT - I think that the main issue here, and with other urgencies / emergencies is that the pilot passed clear information about the situation and any help they needed. I *think* I did that, if a little scruffily. I think it was defensibly either a mayday or a pan, on the whole I tend to agree with BPF and say that I should have called mayday - but above all I needed to explain the situation to those who could support me, and I'm content I did that.

Re: first aid. I can see the point about the first instructor including the student (unconscious) in his class, at the same time it was a group of martial artists who were used to a degree of use of each other to demonstrate "stuff" in ways that wouldn't be normal in most environments. I am personally more critical of the second instructor for not actively controlling the environment beyond their immediate casualty, nor in providing a useful debrief afterwards. [Incidentally, the epipen needle in question had embedded itself in the bone in the fellow's finger! - he was fiddling with it, not appreciating it wasn't a practice model, plenty of lessons in that which don't need discussing! I gather that when he was sent to A&E, they did make their views on that quite clear].

In the meantime, turns out my student was recording the flight in SkyDemon and emailed me this, if anybody's interested Turweston is 438ft amsl with a 1000ft circuit height, so I kept creeping up but never actually made circuit height - I just kept climbing until I could make the runway, then reduced power. Well inside the circuit, prioritising having somewhere to land at all times. I'm pretty comfortable with that aspect. Also to make sense of the numbers - it was an AA5 with about 10 kts westerly wind at the surface, nearer 20kts within the circuit. The right turn after take-off is clearly the point I took control.

.https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/627x273/new_picture_4__5b8de35459f129ed5d22412dc7e716f75a9eee57.jpg

G

Big Pistons Forever
11th Dec 2018, 16:41
One of my pet peeves about flight training is that the engine failure scenario taught is in fact the statistically least likely scenario. A complete failure with no warning and an unsuccessful attempt to restore power. This is IMO exacerbated by the student knowing that the instructor will tell him the restart is unsuccessful so that they can complete the forced approach.

This is IMO very negative training as it it minimizes the importance of the cause check which in the real world has a significant chance of restoring power as the reason the engine failed was pilot induced

Similarly partial power loss scenarios are virtually never practiced but are in fact much more likely to occur than a full power loss. One of my favourite exercises is to reduce power to a level that provides just enough power to maintain level flight at a speed around best endurance and then ask what the student is going to do.This invariably results by a blank look from the student but leads to a very good pilot decision making exercise with some directed questions.

Genghis the Engineer
11th Dec 2018, 16:55
I agree totally BPF - as my response to DD's question above clearly indicates.

Also two of my three total power failures, started as a partial power failure. Of those two, one unfortunately did lead to aircraft damage - but the other didn't, and neither led to serious injury - and I think my immediately positioning the aircraft in response to partial power loss contributed to those relatively happy outcomes too.

G

Big Pistons Forever
12th Dec 2018, 00:21
Genghis

My comments were not directed at you but rather the generally unrealistic scenarios presented in flight training.

I personally have never had a complete engine failure in a SEP but I have had 3 partial failures, all of which fortunately ended up with an airport recovery

Genghis the Engineer
12th Dec 2018, 06:19
Roger, and affirm. We've had these discussions before - and I was just using my own experiences to demonstrate why I agreed with you.

G

BEagle
12th Dec 2018, 13:25
I can only recall having had 3 events in light aeroplane instruction which required a prompt return to the aerodrome:

1. During a student's slow roll, engine oil spread itself across my side of the windscreen. As PIC, I took control; left all engine levers alone and used the available thrust to climb towards the aerodrome overhead, then set the throttle to idle and landed off a forced landing pattern. I also operated the radio as I wanted to make it clear to ATC that I would be requiring priority!

2. During departure with another student, I experienced a rough running engine at normal power / rpm settings. Again as PIC I took control, turned for the aerodrome overhead, found a power setting which allowed the engine to run 'normally', then told ATC my requirements before landing off a forced landing pattern.

3. Suction pump failure during the nav section of a PPL Skill Test. After confirming it was the pump, not the gauge, I told the student that the flight was a freebie for which he wouldn't be charged, then flew back to the aerodrome whilst he enjoyed the view.

If I was flying as PIC in a single engine aeroplane with an abnormal or emergency event, I would always take control and proceed as if solo rather than having some distracting discussion with the student, or risking him/her confusing ATC with poor RT. He/she would spend 100% of the time looking out for other traffic and we would debrief the problem only when safely on the ground.

timprice
13th Dec 2018, 16:27
Students and pilots overall are like sponges the more information we have the more chance of a better outcome should an incident occur, of course not every thing were told or learn is remembered.
But no harm trying, I find often the more heads the better I suppose that's why big jets have multi crew, hoping one of them might remember something in an incident:E

Tinstaafl
15th Dec 2018, 03:37
I had a NVFR student have a vac. pump failure when we were on the last leg of a NVFR navex, towards the end of his training. I let him continue to fly & manage the problem, with the view that I'd take over if needed.

Then when I did his test some days later (with a new vac pump installed), the poor sod had the AI fail. Same as before, I let him deal with it. Fortunately we'd met all the required test items. He did fine so I passed him.

deefer dog
18th Dec 2018, 12:10
To the OP: I'm guessing that you were satisfied after completing the power checks prior to departure, and that the mag drops were within limits. Assuming this to be so, the fault that you later diagnosed (loss of one mag) would surely have only led to a relatively small reduction of RPM - perhaps no more than 200 with max power selected?

I'm assuming that the reduced ROC was due to the natural instinct of your student (or perhaps you) to pitch down, and the VSI reflected this with the indications you quote. Nevertheless the aircraft had sufficient power to maintain a safe climb, and you were in the immediate vicinity of the aerodrome. I think that a PAN call was appropriate, but as to whether you as instructor should have taken immediate control is debatable and depends on a number of factors, not least of which is your experience as an instructor and the confidence you have in knowing the limits of your abilities.

The absolute safest course of action was that which you chose. As instructor you were not only the P1, but your level experience and qualifications indicate that you were the safer and more current pair of hands to deal with the issue. As instructors though our function is to teach skills, and these are best taught with supervised practice. As Ascend Charlie pointed out, "you tell me, I forget - you show me, I might remember, and you let me do it, I learn." As students master new skills their confidence is boosted, and this propels the learning process.

As instructors we often allow students to deal with abnormal situations. A ballooned landing is a good example of something that has gone wrong that needs to be corrected in the appropriate way, and with a degree of haste. A junior instructor will have less confidence in his ability to correct the balloon if the student fails to act quickly, whereas a seasoned teacher is likely to give the student more time to fix something he needs to learn to deal with. A rough or partially running engine is not an entirely different matter, especially when the student has been taught emergencies of this nature previously.

I think it would be unfair of anyone to criticize you for handling the airplane yourself as only you know the full circumstances, weather etc. You didn't tell us though whether you let him/her carry out the approach and landing once you had attained a safe height and dealt with the RT. Glad all ended well!

Genghis the Engineer
19th Dec 2018, 08:53
To the OP: I'm guessing that you were satisfied after completing the power checks prior to departure, and that the mag drops were within limits. Assuming this to be so, the fault that you later diagnosed (loss of one mag) would surely have only led to a relatively small reduction of RPM - perhaps no more than 200 with max power selected?

80ish both sides, yes. I think that the plug failed in initial climb.

I'm assuming that the reduced ROC was due to the natural instinct of your student (or perhaps you) to pitch down, and the VSI reflected this with the indications you quote. Nevertheless the aircraft had sufficient power to maintain a safe climb, and you were in the immediate vicinity of the aerodrome. I think that a PAN call was appropriate, but as to whether you as instructor should have taken immediate control is debatable and depends on a number of factors, not least of which is your experience as an instructor and the confidence you have in knowing the limits of your abilities.
Had I *known* that things wouldn't escalate (which they didn't) maybe I'd have been content to leave it with my student. But I have prior experience of a partial leading to a total, and my student's PFLs and landings aren't brilliant - so taking over was the right choice.

The absolute safest course of action was that which you chose. As instructor you were not only the P1, but your level experience and qualifications indicate that you were the safer and more current pair of hands to deal with the issue. As instructors though our function is to teach skills, and these are best taught with supervised practice. As Ascend Charlie pointed out, "you tell me, I forget - you show me, I might remember, and you let me do it, I learn." As students master new skills their confidence is boosted, and this propels the learning process.
Absolutely, although of course we've also got in flying that vital tool - the debrief, which I used as best I could once everything had settled out. I think that we both felt that, with him observing and my including him in a robust debrief, he learned a lot from the exercise. It would have been relatively easy to just say "lesson over, I'm off home, see you once the aeroplane's fixed", but to my mind that's missing a huge learning opportunity.


As instructors we often allow students to deal with abnormal situations. A ballooned landing is a good example of something that has gone wrong that needs to be corrected in the appropriate way, and with a degree of haste. A junior instructor will have less confidence in his ability to correct the balloon if the student fails to act quickly, whereas a seasoned teacher is likely to give the student more time to fix something he needs to learn to deal with. A rough or partially running engine is not an entirely different matter, especially when the student has been taught emergencies of this nature previously.

I think it would be unfair of anyone to criticize you for handling the airplane yourself as only you know the full circumstances, weather etc. You didn't tell us though whether you let him/her carry out the approach and landing once you had attained a safe height and dealt with the RT. Glad all ended well!

A lot of my thinking was the risk of the "urgency" escalating beyond the student's ability to manage it, and then the control transfers interfering with smooth conduct of the flight. I also was working, relatively speaking, at the limits of my capacity - so bringing in a further brief and handover to him for the approach and landing - with an engine misbehaving - did not seem at all wise.

What I might yet do (the aeroplane's now fixed) is replicate that with him however, but with a known good engine.

G

Big Pistons Forever
22nd Dec 2018, 21:15
Genghis:

i would suggest that rather then recreating the event, you use it instead as an example of why the foundation flying skills matter
​​
My experience is that many recreational pilots accept sloppy flying from themselves. The reality is most of the time it doesn’t matter. However your incident is a perfect example of when near perfect flying could be the difference between a successful outcome or a bad ending.

For example if the airplane is going to climb with a reduced power condition then nailing the pitch attitude and staying coordinated is critical. I would suggest going to the practice area and experimenting. Set a reduced power and show your guy what happens when the ball is half out of the cage and the airspeed is 5 kts too slow.

Similarly the kind of scenario you described also will often require a fairly steep descending turn towards the runway. Again something worth practicing and showing what happens if you do it badly.

Genghis the Engineer
23rd Dec 2018, 19:56
Thanks for that BPF, some good and useful advice.

G

flensr
5th Jan 2019, 03:30
My own approach in an emergency situation where loss of aircraft was a possibility, I would take control and use crew resource management techniques to include the student as a resource to share tasks with. If loss of aircraft wasn't a concern I'd let the student troubleshoot and make appropriate decisions but as soon as that line was crossed, I'd assume control (per the preflight briefing), and would handle the situation as the actual pilot in command using all available resources including the student to safely recover the aircraft.

Genghis, It sounds like you did the right thing including the thorough post-flight debrief. A brutally honest postflight debrief after an inflight emergency can make a huge and lasting impact on a young pilot's career. If you make a mistake, own it and debrief to it. I've had students call me out on areas of discrepancy that I glossed over, and every time I let them know that I approved of their thorough and honest debrief inputs and spent extra time going over whatever questions they may have had. I think it helped, they're all still alive anyhow.

flensr
5th Jan 2019, 03:38
BPF has a great point, as does your (Genghis) comment about identifying the initial problem via lower than expected climb performance. On my ATP checkride, we were on a normal climbout (in a Baron) and I noticed that I just wasn't getting the climb performance I expected. At that point I had a grand total of 4.5 hours in that aircraft so I was by no means an expert, but still, I noticed it. Turns out that the sun was shining right on the landing gear indicator lights and when I raised the landing gear handle I simply couldn't tell that the 3 green lights never went out and I assumed that they did because they always had in the past. Turns out we had a stuck weight on wheels switch and the gear was stuck down. My check airman let me handle everything and we landed uneventfully. That entire event goes back to basic airmanship. Did we repeat the after takeoff tasks by rote memory or did we actually confirm that the gear came up? During our climb check, did we compare actual vs. expected climb performance? Before landing, did we use every available resource to confirm the condition of the landing gear before actually landing? A break in basic airmanship with the erroneous gear-up confirmation was caught later on by noticing the climb performance discrepancy. If I hadn't noticed that, we could potentially have completed the entire first half of the checkride with the gear hanging, most likely with a gear overspeed in there somewhere. Because the sun was shining right on the gear lights and I was a bit complacent when calling/confirming gear up after takeoff.

100% correct on foundational flying skills being key to not only handling an inflight emergency, but also in noticing the problem in the first place.

BluSdUp
5th Jan 2019, 19:59
Interesting thread Genghis!
Last things first: Always debrief!" 5 main points , 5 minutes an old TRE once told me!"
But that is during normal training. I always ask crew on a normal day if they want a 30 minute de brief as I am payed for, 99% of time not needed.
But debrief FOs after parkbrake set shutdown check list comlpete and pax deboarding when things are fresh is my standard.
Not instructing the last years, but I want feedback and any issues sorted as I go home.
The no debrief from the epipen episode is amateurish,imho!

Now for the abnormal and emergency: PIC ie You take control and decide and RT!
If it had gone into the hedge with You letting the Student ( He was not a qualified PIC at the time) handle it as if solo and having to relay all info into his somewhat rusty circuitry it would be easy to criticize You as PIC! No?

I find myself more and more on normal lineflights taking the RT ,to quickly solve potential problems, mostly with relived nod from the right side.

I particularly am concerned about all the incidents with 3 pilots in the flightdeck.
Were I suspect modern CRM fails due to lack of formal protocol with regards to the third persons duty.
Turkish AMS and the 777 SFO comes to mind , never mind the latest MAX accident with an Engineer on the jumpseat if I got that right.
My point being it is safer to take control and later give it back if so desired, then find that the student makes it more critical.
Nice circuit
Happy ( on field ) Landings
Cpt B

B-757
6th Jan 2019, 03:33
A bit of diagnostic work showed a left mag circuit failure. An engineer this morning found it was a failed plug on that circuit.
G[/QUOTE]

..A fouled spark plug is a common occurence in the older, carburated piston engines..For this reason,
understanding the mechanics of the ignition system is a must..A misfire condition at low altitude, especially after
takeoff, can bring a single-engine plane down, if no action taken by the pilot..

Fly Safe,
B757

..

Ascend Charlie
6th Jan 2019, 08:08
The trouble checks were always "F**k Me, I'm In Trouble!"

FUEL - quantity, pressure, selection of tanks
MIXTURE- go Full Rich, or if already there, try a small movement back
IGNITION - Mags both
INSTRUMENTS - any obvious indications?
THROTTLE - see if there is any response to movement.

B-757
6th Jan 2019, 09:25
The trouble checks were always "F**k Me, I'm In Trouble!"

FUEL - quantity, pressure, selection of tanks
MIXTURE- go Full Rich, or if already there, try a small movement back
IGNITION - Mags both
INSTRUMENTS - any obvious indications?
THROTTLE - see if there is any response to movement.

..Works perfect, except Mags Both..You will understand after your 1st magneto failure..

Fly Safe,
B-757