May 2020 Aviation Articles

How to Counteract an Engine Failure in Flight

First, let me start out by saying that this article is for single engine flying. I'll write another one on multi engine plane engine failures in the future.

I had this talk recently with a fellow CFI I work with on the biggest issues we see in student training. Engine failures aren't taken seriously because they don't happen too often. It's also because in your typical general aviation planes you have a good glide ratio, so rather than being quick people take their time running checklists and securing the plane in simulated engine outs. 

I GUARANTEE you during an ACTUAL engine failure you won't be taking your time, but instead immediately going through how you trained it. Did you train it nonchalantly and running checklist super slow? I hope not. So let's talk about what to do:

The acronym you want to memorize for engine failures is ABC. Kinda comical how simple it is, but it could save your life one day!

A is for airspeed. The VERY SECOND your engine fails, pitch for glide speed. Glide speed is published by the manufacturer to be at the maximum lift/drag ratio to give the pilot the greatest gliding distance available. At this point, you're not gaining any altitude. But giving yourself the most horizontal distance available to find a good spot to land is key.

B is for best place to land. As soon as you start bringing the nose up or down for glide speed and trimming for it, take a look outside and see where you're going to land. If you're struggling to find an airport, glance at your GPS if you have a screen onboard. You might be right on top of an airport without knowing it. If not, then keep looking outside. Anything like a field, road, coastline etc. can be a good spot. Some tips on what to watch out for is if you can help it don't pick a field full of trees, a marshy area, watch out for power lines over the road, and of course the obvious always avoid buildings/structures. 

C is checklist. Yes, now that the plane is secured lets see why we lost that engine! Commit your checklist to memory and do it from memory first and then check yourself on paper after doing one run through. This way you aren't stuck reading one item at a time and wasting time as you're losing altitude. Commit your checklists and run them like a machine: no time is wasted that doesn't need to be.

The same CFI I talked with about this experienced a real engine failure once. He told me "wow, no one prepared me for how absolutely quiet it gets when that engine stops." And I guess that's something I never thought about before. What will it be like when it actually happens? A CFI won't be there next to you with their favorite "you just lost an engine" grin.....no, just you and some dead pistons. He immediately did ABC and once he switched fuel tanks and restarted the plane it refired. Turns out there was a clog in the fuel lines on one tank, and switching to another fixed the issue. He was able to do this from memory and pretty much had no need for the paper checklist, although he still went through after to verify everything was secured as called for. 

He stuck to his training, and it saved his life.

So to end this post I ask, how do you train for an engine failure? Do you think it would save your life the method you're using? Have fun with flight training, but also take it seriously and make sure you learn something valuable each time you go up!



Don't forget our Globalair.com Scholarship is accepting applications through August, we hope to see you apply!

Tips for Becoming a CFI That You Don't Learn in Training

Okay...some of these tips you actually are likely to learn in training BUT I'm writing to give you all of these just in case you don't. 

1) Congrats on deciding to become a CFI! It's a lot of work, it's not always the easiest job, but it is so rewarding and is a great way to give back to aviation. If there is a NUMBER ONE tip that I can give you, it's to make each flight lesson fun and positive if you can.

Now...by this I don't mean to make it your goal to have students laughing and to "baby their feelings" so to speak. But students learn through positive affirmation and feeling association. If you make every lesson 100% serious the entire time where they never have fun, make them feel like they're a terrible pilot by only giving negative feedback and create a stressful environment for them to learn in....they're not going to learn well and may even leave you for another instructor. 

Flight training is dangerous and expensive, meaning you always want to be safe and stay as productive as possible to keep someone moving forward in their training. But this can be done while having a good time and having students look forward to lessons with you.

You'll learn this when reading through Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI's). But this is what you should take away from it. It's important to understand how students learn. Thank back to you when you were a student pilot. What did you like from your training and what did you not like? What constituted a productive day for you and made you confident in your flying? Take these characteristics and use it to make yourself a better instructor.

 This meme of Bob Ross is comical but it applies to this! If a student has a bad landing that wasn't super dangerous and broke anything but it just could've been a lot better.....are you going to yell at them or give them a good critique to make it better next time? Think about what will be most beneficial for THEM. This is their training and it's our job to make it great. If they keep making the same mistake over and over again....maybe it's time for a firm critique that lets them know you're serious. If this is the first time they did this....let them know to stay away from those "happy little impacts" ;)

2) Learn to have patience. Mannnnnnnn ohhhhhhhhhhhh mannnnnnnnnnnnn did I wish someone had prepared me for this more! There will almost ALWAYS be those students who don't study, don't pay attention to what you teach, don't take your advice....the list goes on. It's not worth your peace to lose your nerve every single time it happens. If you have a bad student you have a bad student. At some point the effort to shape them into something better ends and you give them an ultimatum of either: make a change or don't continue flight training. At the end of the day you still have to put yourself first. Becoming an instructor shouldn't mean you lose your sanity. So you HAVE to have patience with people.

3) Learn to have a crazy schedule. As much as you will try to have a set work schedule to follow, it just is hard to keep. Students will cancel, aircraft will break, weather will turn bad...the list goes on. Expect there to always be change and embrace (and that goes for the rest of your career in aviation too). 

4) Take a day off here and there and treat yourself. For anyone who watches Parks & Rec, it's like Donna and Tom would do: treat yo self day! Because you deserve it. This will be something that you'll learn is essential 2-3 months into being an instructor with a pretty good going schedule. Like I said earlier, being an instructor is not easy. You can have a crazy work schedule, bad students who test your sanity, you'll fight with weather and maintenance on almost a daily basis etc. And remember this: your students will almost always want to fly but that doesn't mean you have to. Learn to say no! If you work 12 hour days 7 days a week, you'll be burned out before you know it. And then you'll need a serious treat yo self day. So, take a day off here and there from flying and go do something you enjoy doing that allows you to relax. It'll be amazing the refresh it can give you. 

And of course, the best way to treat yourself is to buy a plane from your favorite website ever Globalair.com. It's okay...we know you love us, you don't have to admit it out loud ;)

If you have any tips you want to add or personal learning experiences that shaped you into a better instructor feel free to add! We're an aviation community and all here to help each other. 

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds!

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