Safety Publications/Articles

Engine failure simulations

One of the things I've noticed in flying with pilots of high-performance airplanes is their frequent lack of experience with engine failure simulations. It's easy to understand why the owner of a Beech Bonanza is reluctant to let a CFI pull the power completely off during an engine failure simulation, thus subjecting the engine (and pilot) to shock cooling.

Then again, who says the power has to be completely retarded to flight idle? Here's a technique that should please the flight instructor and the owners of these airplanes. The next time you are practicing power-off stalls with a student, make a power-off descent at the airplane's best glide speed with the gear and flaps up. Note the airplane's descent rate. This is the approximate descent rate that you can expect to have under similar weight conditions in the event of an engine failure.

Now, extend the gear and add whatever power is needed to return to the previous power-off descent rate at the airplane's best glide speed. Note the power required to maintain this rate of descent and airspeed. Now you can simulate a complete engine failure by extending the gear, adding power to the previously determined value, and telling the student that he's experiencing a simulated engine failure. He should immediately assume the best glide speed. You will be duplicating the glide performance of the aircraft at flight idle.

This technique allows you to perform engine failure simulations without worrying about shock cooling the engine. If you'd like to maintain an even higher power setting during this simulation, add partial flaps. Just adjust the power to approximate the best glide rate of descent and airspeed.

By Rod Machado

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