Lesson 11 – Plane Engine Failure!

Advanced Circuits

Lesson 11 was all about what to do in the event of an engine failure and issues which can occur.   This included:

  1. Plane engine failure during takeoff
  2. Engine failure after clearing the field (on climb)
  3. Engine failure where you can make the runway
  4. Landing without flaps if there is an electrical or mechanical issue
  5. Flying at low level if their is poor visibility

What this all translates into is some really practical skills and potentially life saving skills.  Similarly gaining confidence in the capabilities of the aircraft to deliver you safely to the ground.

1. Engine Failure during takeoff

This is the best of a bad situation.  In a small single engine plane, if there is still runway available, you basically setup the plane for a safe landing and get back on the deck.  We didn’t simulate or validate this situation, but because the Cessna 152 gets off the ground quickly, there is a stack of runway left.

2. Engine Failure after clearing the Field

This is a bad situation.  You may not have enough altitude or be able to glide back to the runway.  We simulated this by bringing the plane back to idle, setting up for re-starting of the engine (which may reveal why it failed in the first place) and getting in the glide attitude with the nose down.  You quickly grasp the reality of this situation.  In front lay a large field of houses and the odd small park.  We basically have a 30 degree field of view in front in which to choose.  On the first attempt we would have set down in the middle of a field of cricketers, but realised quickly we wouldn’t have made it.  On the second, we would have got it middle stump.  This situation drives home the importance of the run-up checks and the symptom checks during the takeoff run.  I don’t want to be in this situation and if you can pick it earlier, all the better.   The check is: 1. Is the RPM steady and full, 2. Are the oil pressure and engine temperature in the green, and 3. Is the air speed rising.  If you get any concerns of these three factors, stop quickly…

3.  Engine failure where you can make the runway

This simulated by doing a glide landing.  From the downwind leg, you shutoff the engine or bring it back to idle (The second choice is best).  So you now no longer have power.  You keep your attitude and get as much height as possible as the airspeed drops to the best life/drag ratio.  In the Cessna 152 it is 65 knots.  Once you hit 65 knots you lower your attitude to maintain 65 knots.  When Adam was simulating it, it was perfectly clear we were going to come in short of the runway, probably the grass area.  Anyway, he was saved by a go-around request from the tower.  A plane was too slow taking off, so we got bounced.  On my attempt I cut the downwind leg short and got in nice and early.  With my aim about 30% up the runway I had heaps of height left.  To the extent I was able to lower the flaps fully once I knew we would make it.  It was sweet to nail that.

4. Landing without flags

I feared these and it was totally unfounded.  Based on being a 6′ 1″ male, you line the end of the nose just above the piano keys at the end of the runway and you are sweet!  The higher nose attitude means you have less visibility but the aircraft is pretty much in the right attitude for the flare.  So for flare you simply kill the power, pull back slightly and let it wash off the airspeed.  Adam demo’d and I did two practices.  These were probably close to two of my best landings of the day, although when I look on the video, all bar the first two, the rest were pretty spot on.

5. Flying at low level

Flying the circuit at 500ft is a skill needed when there is poor visibility.  We didn’t get to do it, as the circuit pattern was full the whole time, the tower wouldn’t give us clearance.  In a few lessons time we’ll head to Murray Field near Mandurah, or over to Rotto to do a few there.

Anyway, the lesson was fun, I felt that I really got a good grip of landings compared with my previous lessons.  CASA paperwork and Chief Flying Instructor permitting, my first Solo is just around the corner.  I feel ready!  By the way, the carb heating problem was resolved today 🙂

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