Prior to any flight with more than one pilot onboard, it is imperative to determine who is pilot in command, and how (or why) that designation will change in an emergency. On November 14, 2002 a private pilot candidate and a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) flying a PA-28 learned this lesson the hard way after a failed recovery from a simulated engine-out approach to a field. Although the aircraft was damaged substantially, no one was injured in this accident.
ASF Hangar Talk
Besides flying, what's a pilot's favorite thing to do? Talking about flying, of course. What is a CFI's favorite thing to do when not actually instructing? Sharing successful teaching techniques with other CFIs.
Introducing ASF's newest section in Instructor Report- ASF Hangar Talk. It's the printed version of those "break-through" moments every instructor has with students. Think of it as your ASF instructor's lounge.
Each edition of ASF Hangar Talk will briefly discuss a topic relevant to flight instruction and then give you a chance to offer your thoughts on the subject. The best comments will be published in Instructor Report, viewed by over 80,000 instructors- so make them good!
For this first edition of ASF Hangar Talk, let's discuss the fine art of teaching landings, more specifically teaching safe landings. Here's the scenario- as your student rolls out on to final you see he/she is high and fast. You don't want to jump in too soon, and wait to see some corrective action from your student, but it never appears. The aircraft is not in any immediate danger, but you know that this speed will make the aircraft float halfway down the runway. At what point do you insist on a go-around? At what point would you take over the aircraft? If you teach CFI applicants -how do you teach them to make this decision?
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AOPA Air Safety Foundation - ASF Hangar Talk
Remember, there are over 80,000 CFIs in this lounge. Make your insights stand out.
According to the DPE the flight test was progressing satisfactorily when he retarded the throttle in order to simulate an engine out, followed by a simulated approach to landing. The DPE maintained control of the throttle in order to occasionally clear the engine during the descent. The student selected a satisfactory field and continued the approach. The student then applied full flaps, and maintained airspeed of 70-75 knots.
When the aircraft was about 100 feet above the ground, the DPE called for the student to execute the go-around. The student reached over to advance the throttle, but saw the DPE's hand on the throttle quadrant and the throttle only half way in. The student felt the power "kick in" and proceeded to retract a "couple of notches of flaps." At this point, the airplane began to sink at a high rate, and the student attempted to regain control and recover. According to the DPE, the student was properly executing the recovery when they impacted the terrain. After the accident, the DPE said that from the time he realized that they were going to impact the ground, to the time the aircraft came to rest, he did nothing to assist the student pilot and found it odd that he did not attempt to help.
The NTSB determined the cause of this accident to be inadequate supervision and the premature raising of the flaps before a positive climb was established.
The private pilot PTS emphasizes that a positive exchange of flight controls must take place between the student and the examiner. It states:
"During flight, there must always be a clear understanding between pilots of who has control of the aircraft. Prior to a flight, a briefing should be conducted that includes the procedure for the exchange of flight controls. A positive three-step process in the exchange of flight controls between pilots is a proven procedure and one that is strongly recommended. When one pilot wishes to give the other pilot control of the aircraft, he or she will say 'You have the flight controls.' The other pilot acknowledges immediately by saying 'I have the flight controls.' The first pilot again says 'You have the flight controls.' When control is returned to the first pilot, follow the same procedure. A visual check is recommended to verify that the exchange has occurred. There should never be any doubt as to who is flying the aircraft."
Although FAR part 61.47 states that the student will be acting as pilot in command, neither the student nor the DPE were sure of who had control of the throttle at the time of the accident. A positive transfer of throttle control did not take place, so no one was in command of the throttle. During every flight, whether it is a personal flight with another pilot or a check-ride, always know who is PIC before takeoff.
For more information, you can read Bruce Landsberg's article, "Who's in Charge" from the November 1993 issue of AOPA Pilot magazine.
This accident report as well as others can be found in ASF's Online Database.
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