Training for Engine Failure

During flight training, instructors try to create the same sense of surprise that a pilot would feel if an engine actually failed unexpectedly in flight. The first few times a student hears the engine sputter or even die, he has a momentary fear response, but regular training turns a tendency to panic into a rational procedure of problem­solving—exactly the goal training is supposed to achieve.

When simulating a failed engine, an instructor reduces the throttle to idle. A real engine failure can include a power reduction that doesn’t leave enough power to continue very far. The most urgent form of

engine failure, however, is when the whole thing stops running. (Actually, in most cases, when an engine stops creating power, the propeller still continues to spin, being driven by the force of the wind like a big, metal pinwheel.)

The Unscheduled Landing

At the first sign of an engine failure, a pilot makes sure he’s at a safe speed, then begins to plan a place to land. Depending on the terrain, coming up with a plan can range from simple to difficult. In the Midwest or desert Southwest, for example, flat terrain often lies on all sides, and most anyplace holds some potential as a landing strip. In mountainous areas or over densely populated cities, the options are far fewer.

Using well-practiced gliding techniques that are part of every sport pilot’s training, the pilot circles the landing site and makes a surprisingly normal approach to the field. Because most engine failures or losses of engine power don’t affect the plane’s battery or electrical system, all the radios work, so the pilot can radio his location and important details to help rescuers find the plane.

Training for Engine Failure


Вселив forced landing* and other emergency procedure* are complicated by remote, moun­tainous terrain, pilots who fly in those regions should get special­ized training from experienced instructors. In desert areas, too. pilots should learn some funda­mental survival techniques, just, in cate.

Training for Engine Failure

On Course

Do you think that once a pilot receives her certificate, she no longer needs to fly with a flight instructor? In fact, good pilots continue to work with flight instructors to hone some skills and to develop new ones that go beyond the basics needed to receive a pilot certificate. One of the most important skills to prac­tice regularly with an instructor is responding to emergencies.

Despite an understandably bad reputation, emergency landings are almost always safe, with no injuries to people and no damage to airplanes. Once the problem with the engine is fixed, many planes take off from the same open field they landed in.

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