Every pilot knows that in order to become a proficient pilot, you must practice for emergencies. Unfortunately, pilots and flight instructors sometimes turn practice emergencies into real ones.
On December 23, 2003, a CFI and his multiengine student were seriously injured when the Piper Seminole they were flying crashed into a field near Prospect, Pa.
The flight left Beaver County Airport and proceeded to the practice area to practice single-engine maneuvers including V MC and drag characteristics, and engine shutdown and restart. While maneuvering between 2,000 and 2,500 feet agl, the CFI established a zero-thrust setting on the right engine and flew in that configuration for four to five minutes. The CFI and the student then shut down the engine and feathered the propeller. After performing single-engine maneuvers for another five minutes, the student attempted to restart the right engine "per the published procedure," including unfeathering the propeller, but the restart was unsuccessful.
The flight instructor then noticed that the airplane had descended to an altitude of 1,300 feet agl, so he had the student fly the airplane while he attempted to restart the windmilling engine.
Initially, the airplane's descent airspeed was 88 knots (V YSE); however, the airplane was subsequently slowed to 82 knots (V XSE) in an attempt to arrest the descent. At 500 feet agl, the flight instructor began flying the airplane and told the student that they were going to land in a field below.
As the flight instructor approached the field, he extended the landing gear and set 25 degrees of flaps. While on short final, the airplane hit the tops of some trees bordering the field. The instructor lost consciousness and woke after the crash. He then secured the airplane, made sure his student was conscious, and left to seek help.
A review of the flight instructor's logbook revealed that he had received his multiengine flight instructor rating on July 5, 2003, and that he began training his first multiengine student on Nov. 2, 2003. Prior to the accident, the flight instructor had accumulated 49.6 total hours of experience in multiengine airplanes and 4.8 hours of multiengine instructing experience.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of this accident to be the flight instructor's improper in-flight decisions, which included an inappropriate altitude selection for intentional single-engine operation.
The flight school that operated the Seminole had established that no single-engine operations would be performed below 3,000 feet agl. The Seminole's pilot operating handbook suggested that the minimum altitude be at least 4,000 feet agl.
In a study of flight instruction accidents, the AOPA Air Safety Foundation found that nearly 38 percent of all dual-instruction maneuvering accidents resulted from practicing emergency procedures. It's imperative that CFIs set limits for maneuvers and not break those limits once in the air. This accident could have been prevented if the CFI had monitored the altitude more closely and taken action sooner than he did.
Accident reports can be found in ASF's accident database.
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Posted Thursday, December 06, 2007 9:15:07 AM