The turn back to the field... engine out

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by 1000RR, Sep 14, 2021.

  1. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Got checked out in the Club's Piper PA-28-180 today by the Club Owner/Instructor. We got lucky with no traffic in the pattern (non-towered) and he had me not only simulate an engine out on departure, but go on and make the turn and land on the runway we departed on. First time, did it at 800', he counted to 3, then I lowered the nose, cranked the turn, made the runway, and bled speed with the tailwind and greased it. Then he said, ok let's try 700. That one got a little sketchy but that tailwind really opens your eyes to being able to make the runway. Greased that one too. Was an awesome exercise! Now checked out in the PA28 too.
     
  2. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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    More people dead trying that same maneuver than there are alive who have completed it.
     
  3. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Excellent exercise but remember that "count to 3" in a simulation can become "count to 10" as you go through the initial shock and denial of it really happening, even with a good self-briefing. Plus winds, density altitude, and other things can be factors in success.
     
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  4. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    I don’t believe anyone can make that claim because when it successfully happens for real it isn’t reported, but there certainly is a good database of bad failures.
     
  5. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    How would having a shorter runway, the aircraft near full gross weight, calm wind, higher humidity and higher density altitude effect the maneuver?

    A plane coming out of the air at a much higher rate and threshold a farther distance to get back to.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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  6. Captain Bubba

    Captain Bubba Pre-Flight

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    I’m not convinced that is true even though I have a dead friend who wasn’t successful. What I do know is you had better know you can pull it off if you turn back, or at the very least know you can at least try it without stalling the aircraft. At my home field they have nothing but houses immediately south of the field except for a small field surrounded by power lines. So I may not turn all the way to the field, but I’m certainly going to turn away from the departure path, and I’m going to do so by unloading the wings.
     
  7. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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  8. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    For sure, the exercise in general was a great one to at least make the attempt and see for my own eyes what it 'could be' like. A few good takeaways I found were, understanding the wind direction combined with surrounding terrain combined with runway/field configurations to make your turn direction determination. Also to lower the nose immediately, a stall really sneaks up on you quick and especially if you try to go directly into a turn... which then could lead to a spin.

    None of it would be helping my cause, that's for sure. Lots of variables to determine if it should even be attempted.
     
  9. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne Final Approach

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    Quit with the negative waves, man.
    It's a great exercise in aircraft control, but the likelihood of real life success is slim.
     
  10. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Great article K9. For me, personally, I don't take the turn back as a discrete yes/no but determining if it's a viable option before takeoff and at what point does it become viable (or not). At 250' AGL, nope. At 700', yikes... something more, maybe? What other circumstances are there, winds, current weight in the plane, DA, length of runway, etc.? I guess what I am saying or believe is that there's no absolutes but in it of itself - going through the exercise at least and going to a full stop on the runway I came from was an eye opener in many way... and not necessarily in the way that says - YES, that's a great option. But more so to all the other considerations and what really occurs if you do it (and in a much less stressful situation).
     
  11. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Yeah and personally, I think showing the maneuver to students as a training exercise is a very bad idea, as it sets a false sense of confidence that it can be done so easily. It’s one thing to do it when you expect it to happen, but it’s another when it happens for real and catches you by surprise.
     
  12. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This takeaway is VERY important, and a great point Ryan! I found that it was stressful in it of itself knowing it was coming. One of the things I did like about it was the concept of just making the field - but for real. And I don't mean "the field" as in the airport field. Doing an engine out simulation, trying to make a field (off airport during simulations), but then actually landing it... and with a tail wind. That, for me, was worth the money paid for admission. Make no mistake, speaking for myself here, this exercise didn't prove or disprove making the impossible turn. My takeaways were on so many other levels aside from going back to the field we came from. Heck, just pushing the nose down and going into an immediate turn was a good reminder and exercise of the importance of staying coordinated, maintaining proper airspeed, and doing it while plenty other stuff is going on. To your point though, for a brand new student, yes they could potentially walk away with the wrong conclusions.
     
  13. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    The situation is far more important. If I have something soft to land in front of me that's where I'm going. Why take a chance trying to get back to the airport? Airplane belongs to the insurance company at that point anyway. And I'm certain the insurance company would rather pay to fix your airplane than pay to fix you.

    Where I fly out of if the mill quits what's in front of me is a suburban neighborhoods. I'm doing the turn. My thinking is if I can keep the speed up I can't make my situation worse. Landing in neighborhoods is bad. If I try the turn and don't make it, well no difference in going straight. But if I can just make it to the airport grounds, or even the farm off the side, its better than neighborhoods.

    @1000RR I never rode a 1000rr. I rode a 954rr and the thing was wicked fast. Gave me a repetitive stress injury in my neck just riding it. Well worth it though.
     
  14. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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    I said this in another post: "When I do instruction, it's normally not the basic flight around the pattern and the training that I conduct is to prepare the (already rated) student to operate the aircraft at the edge of it's limits in order to develop the confidence for that student to know and (if need be) operate near the edge of their limits."

    Having said that, there is no way I would teach this type of a turn. I would rather teach a more survivable solution.

    I also teach that the first engine belongs to the company. The second engine belongs to you and your crew. If you are single engine, then the entire aircraft belongs to you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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  15. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    :yeahthat:


    Knowing you're doing a turnback exercise and being mentally prepared gives greater odds than the time the engine quits without warning after many years of successful takeoffs in a familiar plane at a familiar airport. I know, I know, we should always be ready ... but we're humans (OK, most of us). ;)

    700'? Nope! 800'? Not thinking so. 1000' ... perhaps. For me it would also depend on where I was i.e. if I have already turned crosswind or entering the downwind leg then I should have altitude & position to consider heading back to the runway.

    If I can't go back then I have to use the aviation version of what my father taught me about driving i.e. "if the brakes fail, hit something cheap!"
     
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  16. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    K9, I really like your last post in that what you teach is to prepare the student, not just the "canned" instruction minimums. I want to be very clear to others reading this, in no way was this exercise intended to teach the impossible turn and instruct upon it's intricacies, that's absolutely not what it was about (for me anyway). Now that that's said - the benefits I took away were and will be useful in my future flight and I firmly believe that. Picking a "best field" is one thing... saying "yes, I would have made that" is another. Actually landing it in not so great conditions (tail wind) was extremely helpful to expand my understandings.
     
  17. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I find it a little odd that situations are never brought up involving the impossible turn while already on base, or turning downwind. My C150 would take forever to get to 700’ straight out and put me in a pattern far away from the runway. I know some places say you are supposed to turn base at pattern altitude or at 700’, but on a hot day that could put me 2 miles or more away from the numbers. Now I usually fly out of short and empty airports, it is different if taking off at the 5000’ Delta.

    But at 500’ I am usually already on a base leg and by 700’ back on downwind, climbing up to pattern altitude. If the engine fails while already in a turn to base, or turn to downwind, should you continue the turn? Or immediately level the wings? It is quite situation dependent.

    I try to take some advice from AG pilots about unloading the winds in low level turns. They often talk about letting the nose fall on every turn, unloading the wing and preventing an accelerated stall. You can gain back the minor altitude loss when you are back straight and level. You can make steep turns in the pattern if you always unload the wings. Caveat - the time you don’t….
     
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  18. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well, there's the Honda 1000RR, then there's the S1000RR (BMW). I've ridden both, tracked the latter a little. The S1000RR was what my username was in reference too and it is a beast but a friendly one with all the nannies they come with nowadays. I use to race quite a bit, won a #1 plate at one time, even qualified Pro for a weekend of fun (kind of a bucket list item to see if i could do it at the time), and that was when I was 40... racing against kids half my age. Learned a lot about riding, about myself, and about others too, haha. It was a great time for sure!!! The Honda 954rr was a great bike too!!
     
  19. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Engine failures on downwind and base always seemed to me to be pretty standard fare for engine out practice. You mean it's not being done anymore? The possibility of it happening has always been cited as the reason for tight patterns.

    They are not treated as "impossible" because they are fundamentally different in a number of ways. The nose high departure stall means an engine failure requires an immediate pitch down and the first response. You are already nose down or at least nose neutral on downwind and base. That's a big difference. If you don't see it, perhaps your CFI should suddenly pull the power on you just before a stall becomes imminent on both a departure and approach stall. "Sh#t!" is the departure stall response. "Ho hum" the approach stall. (We had a DPE who uses to pull this on checkrides)

    The other big difference is where you are. On a departure stall, you are facing away from the runway. Basically everything you have done to prepare for the impossible turn is a guess albeit (hopefully) with a healthy margin built in. On the downwind and base power loss you can see the runway and pretty much know whether you can make it by turning directly to it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  20. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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    You also have to take into consideration the aircraft that you are flying. If you teach the turn in an Pitts or even an Aerobat 152 you would probably be good every time. If you tried that same technique in an Cherokee 6 you would hit the dirt in mid turn.

    Muscle memory retention is a real thing. So are laws of primacy.
     
  21. 1000RR

    1000RR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    100%... and being I'm in the market trying to find a Cherokee 6, your message is even louder and clearer! I've been trying to get some time in the left seat of a Six the past few weeks and most definitely you wouldn't be doing anything remotely close to that in the Six... drops like a rock!
     
  22. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Unfortunately, we don't have data to prove or disprove that assertion. (As far as I know, data on the number of successful attempts is not available.)
     
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  23. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Yes, too many people talk about using altitude as their criterion for whether to make a turnback, with no mention of how to determine whether they will be within gliding distance of the runway when the turn is complete.
     
  24. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    That's VERY situational. If you have decent fields ahead, there's no doubt straight ahead might be the best option. Dense houses or tall trees? PIC has to make the decision. If you haven't at least tried to practice it under controlled conditions, yeah, a good outcome is more unlikely. That's one reason I do try to practice it from time to time.
     
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  25. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I know an instructor who developed a way of teaching it. He built on the work of David F. Rogers to develop a process that combined experimentation and practice in the air with doing some arithmetic on the ground to develop criteria for whether a successful turnback was likely to be possible under existing conditions. Unfortunately, he has never published it as far as I know.

    By the way, the year after the FAA published "Impossible Turn" advising against it, they put out an advisory circular with the following advice:

    AC 61-83J
    Appendix A

    A.11.4
    Return to Field/Engine Failure on Takeoff. Flight instructors should demonstrate and
    teach trainees when and how to make a safe 180-degree turnback to the field after an
    engine failure. Instructors should also train pilots of single-engine airplanes not to make
    an emergency 180-degree turnback to the field after a failure unless altitude, best glide
    requirements, and pilot skill allow for a safe return. This emergency procedure training
    should occur at a safe altitude and should only be taught as a simulated engine-out
    exercise. A critical part of conducting this training is for the flight instructor to be fully
    aware of the need for diligence, the need to perform this maneuver properly, and the need
    to avoid any potential for an accelerated stall in the turn. The flight instructor should
    demonstrate the proper use of pitch and bank control to reduce load factor and lower the
    stall speed during the turn. After completing this demonstration, the flight instructor
    should allow the trainee to practice this procedure under the flight instructor’s
    supervision. Flight instructors should also teach the typical altitude loss for the given
    make and model flown during a 180-degree turn, while also teaching the pilot how to
    make a safe, coordinated turn with a sufficient bank. These elements should give the pilot
    the ability to determine quickly whether a turnback will have a successful outcome.
    During the before-takeoff check, the expected loss of altitude in a turnback, plus a
    sufficient safety factor, should be briefed and related to the altitude at which this
    maneuver can be conducted safely. In addition, the effect of existing winds on the
    preferred direction and the viability of a turnback should be considered as part of
    the briefing.
    So the controversy continues.
     
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  26. k9medic

    k9medic Line Up and Wait

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    Yep.

    When you quoted my statement I realized I wrote it incorrectly. I went back and fixed it.

    “There is no way I would teach that type of turn”

    I will give you an example of adjusting training for experience and aircraft.

    In some helicopters there would be no way I would teach a pilot to extend a glide by pulling the rotor rpm down as there is so little of a margin of error that if you make a simple mistake, your rotor will completely stall. The R22 comes to mind.

    In other helicopters, I teach this maneuver to student pilots and teach an aggressive form of this maneuver to pilots who are undergoing recurrent training. The oh58 is one of them.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  27. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    But altitude is part of that equation, and instructors who are teaching it are mostly likely teaching that that "cone" of possible landing zones is directly altitude related. I did a demo in a Super Cub with a client last week. I do it more regularly than most I'm sure, and I made a mistake - I knew it right away, but I turned away from the wind rather than into it. In the Super Cub from 500' it was still doable in the conditions we had that day, but I didn't help myself for sure. Again, if you don't practice various scenarios from time to time, you DEFINITELY won't be ready for them. Occasionally throwing maneuvers into the mix is necessary to get what you need to do correctly into your head. Don't forget soft and short field landing practice, too.
     
  28. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    I agree the many pilots lack the situational awareness, training, planning, and/or experience to reliably assess when a turn back is possible or should or should not be attempted. As noted from a number of sources the problem with turning back is their isn't a canned procedure or situation where it reliably works. To successfully do it requires excellent situational awareness, planning, training, experience and decision making skills.

    Interesting the Commercial Maneuvers will teach pilots a lot about some of the components required to successfully turning Back. The benefits of practicing the Power off 180 should be pretty obvious.
    But if willing to explore Accelerated stalls and Eights on Pylons beyond the minimum requirements there is a lot to learn there also.

    Accelerated stalls, try practicing them to the 1st Aerodynamic indication of stall. I find it interesting that that it appears to me that the more you accelerate the stall the wider the speed range between the stall warning and stall indication becomes. My take away, Actively Listen for the stall warning when maneuvering, it will give you lots of warning that you should unload the wing. Then try some uncoordinated accelerated stalls, to an aerodynamic stall indication. I suspect different airplanes react a lot differently to being uncoordinated. I think the lesson you will find is be very careful to stay coordinated, which leads us to Eights on Pylons.

    What many pilots miss about Eights on Pylons is that it very well demonstrates how the turning picture changes as you start maneuvering close to the Ground. Normally when you do a left turn for example we are used to seeing the ground to our left move ahead of the wing. But once you descend below the pivotal altitude the ground starts moving behind the wing. We are so conditioned for the higher turns that many pilots will start feeding in left rudder to get the ground to move past the wing like they are used to. Nearly everyone that has practiced Eights on Pylons has likely done this, trying to use the rudder to turn to make the picture look right. Even if they didn't realize why they were doing so. There is even a much greater tendency to skid the turn and load the wing when you have a strong tailwind, also noticeable when practicing Eights on Pylons in the wind. The lesson here is that Skidded turns down low are very easy to inadvertently do, and In my opinion this is not given nearly enough credited as to the cause of low level stall spins, Add some distraction into the mix and a stall spin starts becoming very likely.

    IMO practicing turn backs at altitude have very little value. The turn back to the runway is a ground reference maneuver and doing them at altitude removes a lot of factors that are involved with successfully turning back and can make them look a lot more doable even with plenty of altitude than might be realistic.

    The best thing you can do is a realistic risk analysis of when you, your equipment, and your situation should or should not turn back to the runway. Every pilot, Airplane, and situation has a different answer. The Accidents are the ones that either the risk analysis was faulty, or the turn back had the best chance of the best outcome, even if it didn't work.

    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL

    Brian
    CFIIIG/ASEL
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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  29. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    My CFI surprised me with an engine out on take off. The only bad thing was that it was a short field, and I had just pulled the flaps in. He literally reached across my arm while I was raising the flaps and pulled the power at about 400agl.
    We sunk like a rock instantly.
    At the same time he pushed the nose over and I jammed the throttle in. Truly a holy sh** moment.
    I think the only reason the seat didn't get all warm was from the pucker factor.
     
  30. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Ha! I didn't even notice the missing word; my mind just filled it in with "to"!
     
  31. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Most people ONLY mention altitude when they're posting about it. That's what I was getting at.

    Do you have a way of accounting for wind, runway length, density altitude, etc.?
     
  32. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    Were that in my aircraft he would have been invited to leave immediately. If he declined the invitation he would be instructed to sit, touch nothing and shut the **** up. Upon landing he would be informed in expletive laden terms that he was no longer in my employ.
     
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  33. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Honestly, my biggest problem with teaching the turn back is the same problem I have with the minimal training and techniques for instrument flying required for a Private Pilot certificate. The skills required to successfully do either are far too perishable.
     
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  34. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 En-Route

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    We definitely had a talk lol. He was apologetic, and I could guarantee it scared him enough he would never do it again. He thanked me for shoving the throttle in, but I truly believe him nosing it over instantly was what saved our asses. I was at about 20-25 hours and it quite took me by surprise.
    We both learned a good lesson on that one, and it really illustrated to me how important the quick nose over reaction is. I'm a better pilot for it...as was he.

    A lot of y'all have seen it, but Flight Chops has a video with Dan Gryder training for engine out on take off. He speaks/explains about the minimum maneuvering speed which would be somewhat critical of course to a turn back to the field.
    Not promoting, just thought it was relevant to this thread.


     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  35. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Line Up and Wait

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    BTDT w a 172H at KFCM on a bitterly cold day. Landed downwind from 27R (then) onto a parallel 9R runway after an obvious post-lift-off fuel starvation that didn't reveal itself in the previous runup. Never left the boundaries of the airport and ended up between the runways after a teardrop 180. Had a big big bank angle w full flaps before forcing it on to runway 9R and stopping.:eek:

    In hindsight I probably shouldn't have done it but the forced landing possibilities got a better as I yanked hard left, until realizing that just maybe I could make it.
     
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  36. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    I find it interesting that both you and Skyrys62's 1st response is/was to terminate the scenario, rather than demonstrate how you would deal with it. I am sure the whole point was to determine and demonstrate if he was really ready for an engine failure at 400ft. The answer added power was the wrong answer, since the instructor had to take over with the correct answer of put the nose down. I am sure that if the learner had responded correctly the CFI would have immediately restored power. CFI's spend a lot of time at 400ft off the end of the runway and as a result probably think about how to respond there a lot more than the average pilot. Unfortunately CFI's see this way to often that when we surprise a learner with something they don't expect, the 1st response is often pull up, or some other inappropriate response.

    Not enough information provided to determine if this was really a dangerous situation or not. Skyrys62 didn't post anything about the risk assessment of the situation. The instructor was obviously prepared for him to react inappropriately. Worst case would be that the engine would not have responded to pushing the throttle back in (pretty low risk), and then what were the options in the event power was not restored. If I were the CFI we would usually have had a reasonable emergency landing area available. But I have on rare occasions simulated a power failure where the correct response is lower the nose and tell me we are going to land in the trees, I probably want to see if you are going to try to turn back (or pull up) when that obviously is a terrible option. Terminating the scenario without a proper (fast) response just tells me it is a scenario you haven't properly considered that it could happen to you or how you need to respond to it. Can you commit to landing in trees, or will you pull up and stall spin it in, while in disbelief that it is happening to you?

    One of the best emergency video's ever, rope break 150ft in glider. Not an emergency, just execute the plan.
    https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/video-low-time-glider-pilot-has-tow-rope-break-down-low/


    Brian
    CFIIG/ASEL
     
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  37. brcase

    brcase Pattern Altitude

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    Just saw Skyrys62, expanded response of the debrief. CFI's are pilots too and we balance training with safety and as with most pilots we occasionally push the boundaries the best scenerio when that happens is... "We both learned a good lesson on that one, and it really illustrated to me how important the quick nose over reaction is. I'm a better pilot for it...as was he."
     
  38. NorthEast Ohio

    NorthEast Ohio Pre-Flight

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2020
    Messages:
    68

    Display name:
    NorthEast Ohio
    The Definitive impossible turn video:
    (by AOPA)

     
    Velocity173 and brcase like this.
  39. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    15,636
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA

    Display name:
    Fearless Tower
    The problem with the turn back arguments is that people try to make it an absolute and they miss the actual key concept.

    It's not the turn back that kills people. It's the loss control when people start the maneuver and become fixated on completing it.

    Not every situation is the same. Some cases, you may be better off trying to turn back. Some cases, accepting the off-field landing straight ahead is preferable. Then there are airplane differences. I can do a power off 180 in my Waco at altitudes that I would never consider in the T6. You have to know your environment and your aircraft's limitations. On top of that, not every engine failure is the same. Not all engine problems manifest themselves as complete power failures. If and when it happens to you, it may not be as clear cut as you like to imagine.

    I have no problem with an attempted turn back. BUT.....you absolutely must have the discipline to know when to give it up and accept the off runway landing. The key to survival is arriving at the ground in controlled flight, preferably wings level. Most people die in turn backs for one of two reasons: they get too slow and stall or they pull too hard and get an accelerated stall. Both maneuvers violate rule number 1 which is to arrive at the ground under control.

    Remember, just because you start to turn back, doesn't mean you are committed to a do or die scenario. No one losing altitude close the ground and on the verge of Vso ever gained more altitude by going below Vso.
     
  40. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2018
    Messages:
    2,186
    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada

    Display name:
    Canuck
    Recent case from here in Ottawa: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/tsb-plane-crash-report-carp-airport-1.6169434

    It's not clear whether he was trying to turn back (from above the far end of the runway): the original CBC story suggested that, but then they walked it back. It will be sad if he was, because there are flat, open fields in almost every direction from that airport.

    In a real emergency you're going to do what you practiced, because blood flow is being redirected to your muscles instead of your brain, and it's hard to think. If you practiced turning back, you'll try to turn back in an emergency (with a not-so-small probability of leaving a scorched hole in the earth). If you practiced landing straight ahead, you'll land straight ahead in an emergency (with a very high probability of walking away unscratched).

    Don't imagine you'll be able to calmly assess the situation and make a pros and cons list when the time comes. I've been in a couple of real emergencies in my life, one pulling someone from a burning car in my teens, and another stumbling into convective weather with a fully loaded plane about 15 years ago. In both cases, I can assure you that there's not much room for abstract thought — you just do something (or not), and try to figure out why you did it afterwards.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
    Doug Reid likes this.