Engine failure on takeoff - mitigation.

Discussion in 'Lessons Learned' started by Engine Failure Fear., Oct 12, 2019.

  1. My biggest anxiety in aviation is losing an engine on takeoff. Aside from doing the obvious (checking fuel quality/quantity, doing a run up and having a plan if you lose and engine on climb out -- immediate stick forward to avoid stall), are there any other checks you can do?
     
  2. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    23,125
    Location:
    UQACY, WI
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    iMooniac
    Well, I have some good news for you. Twins are cheap now...

    ...of course, they also double your chances of having an engine failure on takeoff.

    But, I would suggest that you can also have a better plan for if and when it does happen. Yes, you'll need to push and keep your airspeed up, but when you're flying into an airport, scope out the options you'd have on takeoff before you land. That'll give you a much better chance of finding a survivable place to land after the initial push. You can also use the 3D airport view in ForeFlight or even just the aerial map or Google satellite view to see what your options will be.
     
    GMascelli and Tantalum like this.
  3. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    Research on google earth, plan for outs and where you could put her down.

    Some off airport training is also good.
     
  4. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2010
    Messages:
    10,952
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Ryan
    Unfortunately, there aren’t any pre-takeoff checks that you can do that will ensure the engine won’t grenade during the initial climb. It’s a crap shoot - hate to say it.

    Yes, losing the engine on takeoff is one of, if the not the worst times for it puke, but there are some ways that the risk can be mitigated.

    1. Perform a pre-takeoff brief and know what you’ll do if the engine quits during the takeoff roll, after takeoff without runway remaining and after takeoff above 1,000ft AGL. In many of the basic training airplanes, you have 30deg left and 30deg right to find a suitable landing zone, that’s it.

    2. Know where you’ll go if you lose the engine below a 1,000ft AGL. Google maps helps with this as James said.

    Besides this, if the engine has sufficient oil, is receiving fuel and the air filter is clean, and there’s no ice forming in the carb (if you’re not fuel injected) than the chance for a power failure is reduced substantially.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
    Mtns2Skies likes this.
  5. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Messages:
    5,555
    Location:
    A Rubber Room
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cli4ord
    For your home airport you should note the location off the runway that are good options. If you fly in congested areas, that may be very limited.

    You should brief yourself of every take off what you will do if you lose an engine. 1. Land on remaining runway if able, 2. Land with no more than a 30 degree turn if below X altitude (500 ft agl converted to MSL) 3. Above X MSL you may turn more for landing. Have an estimate of how much runway you should be off by.

    Oil pressure and power check before rotation.
     
    bflynn likes this.
  6. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Messages:
    9,089
    Location:
    Colorado
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    murphey
    There really isn't much you can do that hasn't been offered here, but let me add one more.

    Forget about saving the airplane. Save yourself and anyone on board.

    The insurance company owns my airplane. I just get to pay for everything and play with it.
     
    bflynn likes this.
  7. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2007
    Messages:
    3,028
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bob Gardner
    This calls for what I describe as constructive paranoia: Break every takeoff into indentifiable segments and have a plan in mind for an engine failure during each segment. For example, before you push the throttle in, tell yourself that your engine is going to quit before you reach rotation speed and know what you will do in that situation; with that behind you, tell yourself that you are going to lose your engine after liftoff but before reaching 400 feet (agl, of course) and be ready to execute that plan (straight ahead or no more than 20 degrees of heading change and try to hit something inexpensive). If you make it past 400 feet but before you get to 1000 feet your plan should include a turn of no more than 90 degrees. Above that, a turn back will probably get you onto the airport property but not necessarily the runway.

    I have never had an engine fail in a single-engine airplane but I have had a couple of anomalies in twins that involved shutting down an engine. In each case, I was spring-loaded to take the appropriate action because of constructive paranoia.

    Bob Gardner
     
  8. Lndwarrior

    Lndwarrior Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    413
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Gary
    For every take-off I continuously call out my landing option up to a thousand feet. if im alone i do it out loud. if i have a pax, i do it in my head.

    for example, as soon as i lift off i start repeating - "straight ahead, straight ahead" and so on (talking about my home airport now) up to 400 feet. then my option becomes the lake. so just after 400 feet i start repeating over and over "the lake, the lake,". i keep this up until 700 feet and then, depending on wind , i'll start repeating " turning back, turning back" and keep that up until i hit 1000 agl.

    my two early options (straight ahead and the lake) are not good options. im probably going to get hurt. But because these are bad options i just don't wsnt to hesitate if it ever really happens.

    i still do this same process even if im at a field with good landing out options.
     
    kaiser and Let'sgoflying! like this.
  9. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    9,381
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Jordan
    Brief a good engine out plan.
     
  10. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    How many have actually landed on a grass field? river bed? gravel? or brought a plane in from almost a stall to on speed to minim speed?

    Always though it was crazy how one can get a PPL and never even do a real soft field landing

    I remember a video of a 182 or something, had a engine failure and landed near a river, beautiful except he went all limp wrist on the touch down vs keeping the stick aft, went from probably a not even scratching the paint event to being flipped on his back
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  11. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2014
    Messages:
    6,286
    Location:
    Wasilla, AK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    stewartb
    :rolleyes:

    Get as much altitude as you can as quickly as you can because altitude is life. Always have a plan for what you’ll do when the motor quits. I do it a dozen times a mile.
     
  12. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Messages:
    17,421
    Location:
    west Texas
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dave Taylor
    Offset takeoffs if you are an impossible turn believer.
    Keep that shoulder harness damn tight.
     
  13. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    PC12 can do it from 500’ strait out departure, if you’re quick on the flaps and feather.

    Whoever coined the phrase “impossible turn” should be kicked square in the nuts.
     
  14. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2013
    Messages:
    5,555
    Location:
    A Rubber Room
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Cli4ord
    I fully agree, but minimizing damage to the fuselage is rather important.
     
  15. alfadog

    alfadog Final Approach

    Joined:
    May 3, 2010
    Messages:
    5,044
    Location:
    Miami
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    alfadog
    Practice that turn back (LOL - "impossible"). For me, in a C172, 600 feet AGL is my minimum to turn back.
     
  16. Stewartb

    Stewartb Final Approach

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2014
    Messages:
    6,286
    Location:
    Wasilla, AK
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    stewartb
    Have a plan. Always.
     
  17. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    Agreed.

    The whole forget trying to save the airplane is probably worse than “impossible turn”

    Try your best to save the airplane ALWAYS, pro tip, the better condition the plane is in, chances are the better condition you’ll be in.
     
    Lachlan, Mtns2Skies and benyflyguy like this.
  18. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Messages:
    4,037
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    write-stuff
  19. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    5,971
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    I would add "proper maintenance" to that list. I've sometimes been appalled by the stuff I find in an airplane we see for the first time. Fuel strainers that haven't been opened in many years: corroded bowls and contaminated filters. Fuel selectors full of crud. Fuel caps that leak. Magnetos that haven't been removed and opened since they were installed on the engine 40 years before. Spark plugs that easily fail the spark testing after cleaning and gapping. Why is it that owners treat their airplanes like that and expect perfect performance from them? Is it because they are spoiled by our nearly maintenance-free cars now? Or is it because they take the airplane to the cheapest shop they can find?

    A good writeup on engine failures: https://www.aviation.govt.nz/licens...structor-guide/engine-failure-after-take-off/
     
  20. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    Mx free cars?

    There is a reason people view cars as “old” after 5 years, same thing, everything needs mx, and with proper mx things last longer than the pilot most times.

    Still engine failure wise, chit happens, just read the sump this.
    http://www.sumpthis.com/
     
  21. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2015
    Messages:
    7,424
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Aztec Flyer
    Meh. Just another Continental getting close to needing a top overhaul. :rolleyes:
     
    bflynn, Mtns2Skies and hindsight2020 like this.
  22. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2010
    Messages:
    4,490
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    hindsight2020
    Damn it! Beats me to it yet again :D
     
  23. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    5,971
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    You must be young. When I was young, cars needed regular tuneups every 12,000 miles or annually or so. Ignition points burned out. The timing shifted as the points eroded or the rubbing block wore. Sparkplugs wore out at a terrific rate. Carbs and fuel pumps needed regular rebuilding. Brakes didn't last too long. Wheel bearings needed regular cleaning and repacking. All that has changed over the last 50 years, and much of the above stuff lasts a major part of the life of the car. Airplane technology is still like those old cars and they still need that level of maintenance. They often don't get it.
     
  24. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331
    Things are better, but things are also the same car wise, most have a mx schedule, and little stuff breaks and being ham fisted doesn’t help
     
  25. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2015
    Messages:
    7,424
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Aztec Flyer
    Yup. Working on my airplanes reminds me of my oldest brother showing me how to work on Mom's '67 Dodge Dart; 225 Slant Six, plugs & points, manual drum brakes, grease zircs all over the place.
     
  26. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    5,971
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    There ya go. And since disposable income wasn't as great as it is for many today, plenty of people learned to do much of that sort of maintenance. About the most anyone does now is an oil change, and few do even that much. The modern cars need so little that we've seen the disappearance of the old two-bay service stations. Those were ubiquitous places; almost any outfit that sold gasoline had at least one service bay. Fan belts. Wipers. Radiator caps. Radiator Stop-leak. Tire repairs. Lots of small stuff that seldom needs replacing anymore. I pumped gas in such a place when I was 17 and changed tires and patched them and replaced belts and so on. It was constant.

    [​IMG]
     
    SoCal RV Flyer likes this.
  27. flyingron

    flyingron Ejection Handle Pulled

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    17,670
    Location:
    Catawba, NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    FlyingRon
    In all the times I've had an engine issue on takeoff, all the preflight in the world didn't change that. I used to have a balky set of mags that you could do runups on the ground for hours but they'd still fail once you got into the air.

    Beat the anxiety by practicing what to do when it happens.

    Yep, electronic ignition completely changed things. I remember my last car with a distributor (1980 Nissan) that had electronic ignition otherwise. The car ran fine but the tach would go wacky. I pulled off the distributor cap and found the contacts so chewed up that I wouldn't have believed in the old days that the thing would have run at all (let alone flawlessly), but the thing arced through the bad cap and fired the engine, the only symptoms was the electronic tach got confused.
     
  28. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2015
    Messages:
    7,424
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Aztec Flyer
    Yes, the one at the end of the block where I grew up was a two-bay gas station that looked very similar. There were seven or eight of them within about3 miles of my parents home. All of them are long gone, replaced by houses, except for that one at the end of the block. For some reason it has survived.

    Those jobs pumping gas were coveted by us high school teenagers. Now it's all self-serve with a convenience store and burger bar attached.
     
  29. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    6,546
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    Adjusted for inflation. ;)
     
  30. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2007
    Messages:
    26,597
    Location:
    Land of Savages
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    steingar
    Always brief the takeoff. Where are you going if you lose the mill? The biggest problem is sometimes the brief is "if I lose the mill it's going to hurt real bad". That certainly was the case with my last takeoff. We takes our chances. No one ever said this was safe.
     
  31. Dan Thomas

    Dan Thomas Final Approach

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    Messages:
    5,971
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Dan Thomas
    Exactly. We minimize the risk by making sure both pilot skills and the airplane are in very good condition. So many accident reports involving engine failure have sad commentaries on the poor condition of the pilot or airplane.
     
  32. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,401
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    chemgeek
    Can't overestimate the importance of good maintenance to minimizing the chances of power failure. And of course, be prepared to safely abort a takeoff, and have a plan if things go south at low altitude. (Have you practiced aborted takeoffs?) While not every airport has options, many will have some sort of landing option just off the end of the runway somewhere. Know where those spots are if possible. (More practical at your home field or places you visit frequently.) Gain altitude as quickly as practical (Vx or Vy until at an altitude you can turn around safely and land at the departure airport before transitioning to cruise climb.
     
  33. flyingron

    flyingron Ejection Handle Pulled

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2007
    Messages:
    17,670
    Location:
    Catawba, NC
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    FlyingRon
    "if I lose the mill it's going to hurt real bad".

    That was the concern I had when dead sticking in after my engine blew up... I hope this doesn't hurt. Oddly, the town I "landed" in was Hurt, VA. I posted a message: Plane down in Hurt, Pilot not.
     
  34. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2017
    Messages:
    4,963
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    San_Diego_Pilot
    -thorough run up
    -monitor instruments during take off, you'd rather hear that cough or skip while still on terra firma and abort
    -unless you have other limitations I tend to get a healthy rotation speed and pitch for Vx initially until about 400-500 then Vy around 800, then around 1,000 cruise climb. Two reasons.. in the Cirrus you can use the chute around 400-500 (depending on model) and frankly, in a 172 / PA28, 500 ft starts to at least give you *some* options.. and by 1,000 AGL you should be able to fly a tight pattern and make it back to the runway

    *also, from the people I've talked to who've had engine failures they tend to be a loss of power event as opposed to full failure.. like a sticking valve or dropping oil pressure.. so they're getting *some* power

    -this is a great and undervalued suggestion. Especially at new airports, doesn't hurt to look at the sat view and know that 15* left of the runway there's a field or something

    I think Chevy is (or was at least until recently) putting these on the back of some of their trucks. My brother in law's early '76 Dart has four drum brakes.. incidentally the my FJ Cruiser has four wheel discs, however rear discs have a drum integrated inside the disc that's driven by the hand brake
    upload_2019-10-15_10-9-57.png
     
  35. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Messages:
    6,546
    Location:
    Wichita, KS
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    MauleSkinner
    Know what your engine parameters should look like on takeoff.

    Identify 50% of your expected takeoff roll and ensure you have 70% of liftoff speed there.
     
  36. Bill Weber

    Bill Weber Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2019
    Messages:
    46
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Bill W
    This is personal preference but I generally try to avoid straight out departures. Assuming the impossible turn altitude is below 700AGL, if I were to cough an engine at 600AGL then on a straight-out departure I'm *probably* not going to make it back, however, if I fly the pattern (sure it maybe 180 degrees in the wrong direction to where I'm going) at 600ft I'm halfway back.

    I'm sure it doesn't work for many but this is just a way I use to stack the odds in my favor a little.
     
    kaiser likes this.
  37. av8orDave

    av8orDave Filing Flight Plan

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2019
    Messages:
    10
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    av8orDave
    Bill, for some reason that never occurred to me as a way to mitigate takeoff risk, but unless I'm missing something it seems perfectly reasonable and makes a lot of sense. Food for thought...
     
  38. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2017
    Messages:
    295
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Warmi
    Had a 4 cylinder Rotax 912 ULS recently partially lose power during takeoff roll due to a maintenance error ( foreign debris introduced into one of the carbs which ended up partially blocking fuel jet)


    I didn’t need no instruments to tell me that something was wrong - I had enough accumulated hours listening to the correct takeoff sound/feel to instantly know that something was off ( you can actually hear the engine pull back when pushed to full power )

    One lessons for me is that next time I am getting a fuel injected version - carbs are just another mechanical failure point that I can do without ...
     
  39. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    20,164
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    James331

    sounds like you tried to give it power a few times?
     
  40. Warmi

    Warmi Pre-takeoff checklist

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2017
    Messages:
    295
    Display Name:

    Display name:
    Warmi
    Yeah but not for the purpose of taking off - I was just checking out if I could reliably reproduce the power drop - I was heading out back to the hangar at that time anyway.