Emergency Descents

DelayedFlight

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DelayedFlight
Hi Folks, I have a couple of questions regarding the Emergency descent on the Check ride. I just wanted to get the consensus and see what comes of it. When the scenario arises on the check ride to perform the emergency descent, do you immediately bank, pitch for airspeed/descent and while descending perform your A-B-C-D-E (checklists and flows), or perform your checklist/flows for the given "problem" and then pitch and bank for your descent?

For example C172 engine fire.
Begin descent and then initiate A-B-C-D-E; turn off fuel, mixture, pump, etc while plummeting toward the earth, or run the checklists FIRST and once complete begin the bank/descent?

What does a DPE like to see, generally?

TIA
 
Your POH will have a procedure for an emergency descent. The DPE will expect that you follow it.
What exact steps are in it (configuration, speed, bank, electrical system, fuel system, ...) is different from aircraft to aicraft.

- Martin
 
Your POH will have a procedure for an emergency descent.


- Martin

Not necessarily.

For example, the Piper Comanche manual does not mention emergency descents in any way. The "Emergencies" section is a total of about 2 pages of text, and only discussed emergency gear extension, gear-up landing, and engine failure. No mention at all of engine fire or any other emergency. Humorously, the engine failure section only has "checklist" steps for how to switch the tanks.

Even the Cessna 172S manual does not. It has an "engine fire in flight" checklist, but step 7 is "forced landing - execute", which refers you to that checklist. But that checklist is all about configuration and speeds for landing - again, nothing about the best way to lose altitude quickly. Even the Amplified Emergency Procedures for fire do not mention an emergency descent.

Personally, if it's an engine fire in something like a 172, I want to get on the ground as soon as possible. I'll be banking and diving first, and then simultaneously be shutting the fuel off and doing the other things.
 
Many years ago, a DPE told me he wants to see the applicant IMMEDIATELY pitch down 20 degrees and enter a left 45-degree spiraling descent. Our local DPE here says if there is a good place to land in front of you, put the flaps down all the way and push the nose down (even though the ACS says the applicant should initiate a bank).

For the checkride, I would follow the ACS. Don't waste time on the checklist first if you are on fire.
 
A lot of great answers here, thanks for the input. As we can see there is some differing opinions on the SOPs, or lack thereof in the POH's. I think it's good mental floss to discuss and hear what folks are thinking and training. In my particular situation I am using a 172S, so to RussR's point it's not well defined in the POH. Likewise the ACS does not go into that level of detail because the order of operation would be different for each aircraft. ACS just has general instructions and tolerances defined.To Gilbert's point, I am pretty sure my instructor said to urgently bank and pitch then run checklist/flows from memory because you don't want to be barreling toward the ground and break out a checklist to read. Not bueno. On the other hand if you can cut fuel and extinguish the fire immediately....well. Verifying tomorrow.

Thanks again for the responses.
 
Hi Folks, I have a couple of questions regarding the Emergency descent on the Check ride. I just wanted to get the consensus and see what comes of it. When the scenario arises on the check ride to perform the emergency descent, do you immediately bank, pitch for airspeed/descent and while descending perform your A-B-C-D-E (checklists and flows), or perform your checklist/flows for the given "problem" and then pitch and bank for your descent?

For example C172 engine fire.
Begin descent and then initiate A-B-C-D-E; turn off fuel, mixture, pump, etc while plummeting toward the earth, or run the checklists FIRST and once complete begin the bank/descent?

What does a DPE like to see, generally?

TIA
Which checkride are you taking?

I would think this should be a memory item (action first then back it up with a checklist)
 
A lot of checklists have specific items in bold, which the pilot is expected to have memorized.

Another point which occurs to me is that whichever emergency descent method you use, it would probably not be a good idea to exceed any limitations specified in the POH or on placards during a checkride.
 
The task is similar to a number of others. If your aircraft manual gives you an emergency descent pricedure, use it. If it doesn't, go back to the general description in the Airplane Flying Handbook. It used to be clearer that they were giving a default procedure (subject to aircraft limitations, of course), but it's there. "As appropriate" is the pilot judgment piece.

Besides, if it's for the checkride, your CFI has already gone over the maneuver several times, right?
 
Engine fire probably has some AFM/POH memory items. Do that.
Do what?

I watched a cfi quiz a student on this. The poor student was having a heck of a time on the memory items. Finally, the instructor told the student to forget what the book said and take a deep breath.

"Now," the CFI continued, "the plane is in fire. What do you do?"
"Shut the fuel, close the vents, and get my a$$ down!"

I don't think I have seen an in-flight fire checklist much different than that.

But the manual memory items, if there are any at all, don't necessarily tell you how to get your a$$ down.
 
If you've got a fire in front of you with the wind in your face and you need to descend quickly, I would shut the fuel, close the throttle and put the airplane in as much of a slip as possible, then go through the rest of the emergency list.

If ever you wanted the air going sideways to the fuselage it's with the front of the aircraft smoking and heating up.
 
The answer is it depends. But the real answer is what would you do if you saw flames shooting out of your cowl?

My POH tells me to pitch for Best glide. There's no way in hell I'm descending at 100 knots.

On all of my check rides the examiner has been very happy to see me bank push and throw the gear out in one fell swoop ultimately focusing on the maximum feet per minute I can descend without exceeding gear speed all while pointing out that if I was really on fire I wouldn't care at all about gear speed the insurance company already owns the plane.

So do what your POH says but if it's irrational like mine, ask an instructor their opinion but really it's an emergency get down. Checklist schmecklist.
 
Here is what the ACS says is expected:

Clear the area.

Establish and maintain the appropriate airspeed and configuration appropriate to the scenario specified by the evaluator and as covered in POH/AFM for the emergency descent.

Maintain orientation, divide attention appropriately, and plan and execute a smooth recovery.

Use bank angle between 30° and 45° to maintain positive load factors during the descent.

Maintain appropriate airspeed +0/-10 knots, and level off at a specified altitude ±100 feet.

Complete the appropriate checklist.
———————————————————————-
The landing gear and flaps should be extended as recommended by individual manufacturers. I have my students do fuel and sparks after the recovery.
 
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as Kool says:

Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
WWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhh
 
The answer is it depends. But the real answer is what would you do if you saw flames shooting out of your cowl?

My POH tells me to pitch for Best glide. There's no way in hell I'm descending at 100 knots.

On all of my check rides the examiner has been very happy to see me bank push and throw the gear out in one fell swoop ultimately focusing on the maximum feet per minute I can descend without exceeding gear speed all while pointing out that if I was really on fire I wouldn't care at all about gear speed the insurance company already owns the plane.

So do what your POH says but if it's irrational like mine, ask an instructor their opinion but really it's an emergency get down. Checklist schmecklist.

When I teaching in the Seminole we could get descent rates of over 3500 fpm during an emergency descent. From any typical normally-aspirated cruising altitude, that gets you down pretty quickly.

Power idle, props forward, gear down, roll over into 45 or so degrees of bank, and aim for 140 kias (Vlo). The more bank, the quicker the descent. No flaps since 140 exceed the flap speed.

Of course, the VSI pegged at 2000, so I had to do some math to figure out what it really was. View out the windshield full of brown!
 
if your airplane is on fire what is the first thing you are going to do? I for one would start the descent while I shut the fuel off.
Cessna tells you bold faced items are immediate action.

1. Mixture
2. Fuel shut off
3. Pump off
4. Master off
 
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Cessna tells you bold faced items are immediate action.

1. Mixture
2. Fuel shut off
3. Pump off
4. Master off

The issue, and the question, I think, is that if you are doing those items at a measured pace, like you should to avoid doing something incorrectly, you're still droning along in level flight for several seconds that you could be using to get down. So I think the OP's question is whether you'd start banking and descending at the same time. In my opinion, absolutely yes. I wouldn't wait until I'm done those items, I do have two hands after all. I'd be doing them simultaneously.
 
Cessna tells you bold faced items are immediate action.

1. Mixture
2. Fuel shut off
3. Pump off
4. Master off

No bold face in a ‘75 C-172M POH. There’s all caps face though.

cd0e29fe79527a844509796814befb64.jpg
 
Yea, the antiques do have bold face and use some silly speed measurement called MPH, Nor does it say to turn off a fuel pump. But since the modern procedure indicates otherwise, you might want to adopt it
 
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No bold face in a ‘75 C-172M POH. There’s all caps face though.

i think the philosophy when those checklists were written was to memorize everything.

You probably want to pick the more serious ones to memorize, possibly with respect to later versions that do have memory items.

The all caps is simply differentiating the “challenge” from the “response.”
 
The answer is it depends. But the real answer is what would you do if you saw flames shooting out of your cowl?

My POH tells me to pitch for Best glide. There's no way in hell I'm descending at 100 knots.

On all of my check rides the examiner has been very happy to see me bank push and throw the gear out in one fell swoop ultimately focusing on the maximum feet per minute I can descend without exceeding gear speed all while pointing out that if I was really on fire I wouldn't care at all about gear speed the insurance company already owns the plane.

So do what your POH says but if it's irrational like mine, ask an instructor their opinion but really it's an emergency get down. Checklist schmecklist.

Just FYI, I most cases I have found waiting to extend the gear allows for a faster (higher speed and higher descent rate) descent than extending it. Added advantage is the better chance of blowing out the fire at the higher speed. If I am on Fire I am going to be about the maximum descent rate I can get until short final, Then going to be maximum drag to slow down.

In checkride scenarios we usually assume you blow out the fire so you can transition to the normal power failure landing procedure.

Brian
CFIIG/ASEL
 
Has anyone experienced an in-flight fire?
 
Most every powered flight has engine fire. It is usually contained inside the cylinders and exhaust system.
 
In checkride scenarios we usually assume you blow out the fire so you can transition to the normal power failure landing procedure.

I've always wondered about this. Like most, I was taught "if you fly fast enough you might blow the fire out". This always seemed like questionable advice to me.

You're in a 172. Flames start coming off the cowling. You dive and go fast enough and no longer see flames. So what? Does this actually mean the fire is out? I would think that maybe it's still burning away in the engine compartment, all you did is blow out the "surface fire" for lack of a better word. Who knows what's still burning down in there.

I had one examiner who gave me the advice, "if your engine's on fire, you put it down right now, in that field right below you, as fast as you can, and get out of the plane as fast as you can". Obviously this advice is for aircraft like a 172 with no real fire suppression capability.

But yet the general training in this area is "oh, good you blew the fire out, now go to best glide and find your field, etc." which of course is all at a nice, relaxed pace while maybe the engine compartment is still merrily burning away.

But I don't know, I've fortunately never had one for real. Have there been actual tests, wind tunnel, etc., on "blowing a fire out", or is it just "wisdom" passed down through the years like "over-square"?
 
My rule with just about any pilotage question especially as it relates to check rides and maneuvers is to go with what the POH says, if that doesn't have it go with the AFH, if that doesn't have it then review the ACS and use your ADM to understand what the ACS is testing for and achieve that. For instance the plane I most flight does not have a specific procedure for "soft field" ..

Go here first. If not found,

Airplane Flying Handbook
go here next, if still unclear,
Look at the ACS
See what the ACS is testing for and use ADM to achieve that. In the case of the emergency descent the ACS does not clearly answer the OP's question or lay out the maneuver specifically.. IE, do you use flaps or not, do you pitch or bank first, what airspeed, etc. My advice to the OP @DelayedFlight is have this conversation with your CFI, who, is also hopefully familiar with the DPE he or she is sending you with and can best prep you.


1694716577256.png

*caveat to the ACS.. good idea to be very familiar with this before your checkride to understand what you will be tested on and what the examiner will expect. In a sense, the check ride is "easy" because you get to see the test before you take it!
 
Not in a piston airplane myself, although I know of a few. One was fatal, the other two they stood next to the runway and watched the airplane burn after landing and evacuating.
The only one I know of personally also involved a fatality :(
 
I've always wondered about this. Like most, I was taught "if you fly fast enough you might blow the fire out". This always seemed like questionable advice to me.

You're in a 172. Flames start coming off the cowling. You dive and go fast enough and no longer see flames. So what? Does this actually mean the fire is out? I would think that maybe it's still burning away in the engine compartment, all you did is blow out the "surface fire" for lack of a better word. Who knows what's still burning down in there.
The theory is you can speed up to lean the mixture enough so it can’t burn. I don’t know of examples where it’s worked, but if you stop seeing flames coming from under the cowling as you increase speed, it probably did.
 
I had one examiner who gave me the advice, "if your engine's on fire, you put it down right now, in that field right below you, as fast as you can, and get out of the plane as fast as you can".

The reason: the time between seeing a fire and the fire being in the cockpit is measured in single digit minutes.

At 17:45:55, they reported a fire in the engine to atc.
At 17:50:28, the fire was in the cockpit. The airplane crashed at high speed shortly after.

4:33 from a fire in the engine to having it in the cockpit.
 
What plane ya flying?

Mine:

Engine fire light illuminates.
Throttle on affected engine to idle.
Fire light stays illuminated, then lift cover and press fire button.
Press white button to discharge fire bottle.

Then run checklist, point towards an airport, have a cup of coffee, and head on down.
 
I have had Smoke in the cockpit, Transponder decided it was time to let the magic out. I decided to shut the master switch off before it decided to do more.

The FAA examiner that did my Flight Instructor check Ride (Chet Waite) told me the story of having an engine fire in something like a 172/182. He said he saw flames from the side of the cowling and annouced to his passenger that they were going to have to make an emergency landing. At which point the passenger decided they would rather be outside the airplane than inside, so not only did have to deal with the fire and emergency landing but he also had to restrain his passenger from exiting the aircraft.


I've always wondered about this. Like most, I was taught "if you fly fast enough you might blow the fire out".

Quentin Aaneson (PBS: A Fighter Pilots Story) told a story (an many others) about him being hit by freindly fire and setting his engine on fire. The Fire Supression system failed to put out the fire and rather than burn to death he opted dive into the ground, During the dive (likely way over VNE) he blue the fire out and was barely able to pull out before hitting the ground. Great documentary and story if you can find it.

 
as Kool says:

Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
Get down, get down
WWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhh
Looks like you are having too much fun with that.

TBH my favorite procedure during training was spiral descents.

My biggest worry is not a fire but the engine takes a dump and gets oil all over the windshield.. then I can't see.. That's my nightmare scenario.
 
Has anyone experienced an in-flight fire?
Yes, me in a Cessna 401 at 14,000' over NM in December 1984.
A more experienced friend was flying and I was in the right seat since I had only gotten my ME recently with one pax in back.
We think the fire started in the exhaust, turbo area and spread to a fuel line and fuel tank, it melted the wing fuel bladder at 14,000'.
Got down fast, landed normally and deliberately sheared the nose gear off with a snowbank to get it stopped because of no brakes and increasing smoke in the cabin.
Got out and watched it burn from the side of the runway, no one got a scratch.
We had 3, 8" artillery rounds in the back too.
 

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