Commercial Pilot Ground School
Emergency Procedures - BRIEFING
In this lesson you'll learn how to glide and land the aircraft after
experiencing a complete power loss from both engines.
ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE
You should complete all of the Student, Private Pilot, and all previous
Commercial Pilot lessons before beginning this lesson. Reading the Ground
School material before starting this lesson will help you better understand
the skills being taught.
ABOUT THE FLIGHT
You will experience an engine failure on both engines. Rod will talk you
through establishing a proper glide, navigating to the airport for landing,
and preparing to land the aircraft. Once set up over the airport, you'll
perform a "dead stick" landing.
KEY COMMANDS TO REMEMBER
F7 to operate flaps
G key to operate landing gear
Shift + 3 to display the GPS
Shift + 4 to display the throttle quadrant
You'll be asked to maintain:
- Airspeed within 10 knots as assigned
- Altitude within 100 feet as assigned
- Headings within 10 degrees as assigned
- Bank within 10 degrees as assigned
Engine Failure in Flight - LESSON
by Rod Machado
One of the remarkable things about the modern airplane engine is its
reliability. In fact, it's considered the norm for a pilot to fly an entire
career in a small, piston powered airplane and never experience a catastrophic
engine failure. Yet, even when an engine does fail it seldom meant
"curtains" for the pilot. What was once an airplane with a perfectly
good running engine now becomes a semi-efficient glider with a large useless
weight in front. The fact is that properly trained pilots can successfully
cope with an engine failure.
In this lesson you'll be introduced to several techniques for handling an
engine failure in the Beechcraft Baron 58. Of course, the Baron is a
multiengine airplane, and the failure of a single engine requires some very
special training that is beyond the scope of this session. That's why this
lesson will specifically cover how to handle a double engine failure. Granted,
a double engine failure is rare, but it can happen, especially if you are
having a bit of bad luck. (In other words, this wouldn't be the best time for
you to invest in a Lotto ticket). Fuel contamination, fuel starvation, and
fuel exhaustion are just a few of the reasons pilots have invented to see to
it that both engines cease operating at the same time. Despite the experience
of a double engine failure in a Baron, this lesson will provide you with
useful principles for handling an engine failure in any of Flight Simulator's
single-engine airplanes, too.
The Big Picture
Before we jump into our discussion of engine failure procedures, here's a
basic description of what will happen during the flight portion of this
You'll begin the lesson in cruise configuration while flying at 170 knots
approximately five miles south of Paine field in the state of Washington. Both
engines will quit simultaneously. Making the "brrrrrrrrrrrrr" engine
sound with your pursed lips won't bring the engines back on line. Besides, it
could fog up the windshield.
Your first action will be to lower the airplane's nose to establish the
proper glide speed. Then you'll run through the engine failure checklist in an
attempt to restart the engines. Of course, the engines won't restart because
that would defeat the purpose of the lesson. Next, you'll activate the GPS and
find the nearest airport. (I've already given you a hint where it's at.)
You'll fly to the center of that airport, circle down from above, and land on
a runway of your choosing. (Even though both engines fail in the Baron, I'll
speak of the engines in the singular, rather than the plural for this lesson.
This will help make the lesson applicable to single-engine airplanes, too.)
That's the big picture. Are you ready for juicy details? OK, let the games
begin, or, in instructor talk, "Let the engines stop."
When an Engine Quits: The Very First Step
Very few things are as certain as the proper piloting
behavior that follows a failed engine. The moment your engine goes on strike you
should immediately lower the nose to the pitch attitude that will provide the
maximum range glide speed. In the Baron, this speed is 115 knots (Figure 3-1).
What does the maximum range glide speed give you? Here's a hint: Who's
buried in Grant's tomb? It gives you the chance to glide the greatest horizontal
distance for your present altitude (we'll assume this is a no wind
condition for all these examples).
You might be surprised to know that most piston powered airplanes have glide
ranges of approximately 10 to 1 (Figure 3-2). No, those aren't the odds that you
won't make the landing field, either. This value indicates that if you're 1,000
feet above ground level you can glide 10,000 feet horizontally. This is pretty
impressive considering that some purpose-built gliders have glide ratios
beginning somewhere around 18 to 1. An airplane without an operating engine is a
slightly inefficient glider, but it's a glider nevertheless. With a 10:1 glide
ratio, you have a good chance of finding a farmer's field or an airport on which
to land the airplane. Of course, it's preferable to put the airplane down at an
airport instead of a field whenever possible, for several reasons. The most
compelling of which is that you won't find airplane mechanics standing around
farmer's fields unless they're moonlighting as scarecrows.
Once the maximum range glide attitude is established and the airplane
trimmed, you now have an important choice to make. If you're close to the ground
when the failure occurs, there's not much time to troubleshoot the problem. Your
first priority in this instance is to find a place to land because that's what
you're about to do. On the other hand, if an engine fails in cruise flight, you
have a little more time and can run though the engine failure checklist before
having to focus solely on the landing. How you handle an engine failure between
takeoff and cruise flight is based on your assessment of the altitude available
and the environment over which you're flying.
Since this lesson's engine failure occurs in cruise flight, you should have
just enough time to quickly run through the engine failure checklist.
Here is what you should check and the order in which you should check it.
Basic/Abbreviated Engine Failure Checklist
(Numbers correspond to the following explanations)
- Airspeed: Pitch for 115 knots
- Fuel Selectors: Each set to ON
- Fuel Pumps: ON
- Mixtures: RICH
- Alternate Air or Carburetor Heat Lever: ON (if available)
- Magneto Switches: BOTH
- Flaps: UP
- Gear: UP
- Seat Belts: Fastened
Here's a brief explanation of each item above:
1. We already discussed why we fly at the maximum range glide speed of 115
knots (Figure 3-3).
2. We check to ensure that both
fuel selectors are set to their ON positions (Figure 3-4).
You might not believe it, but sometimes when pilots switch
fuel tanks they accidentally set their levers to the OFF position. It's
also possible to accidentally bump the levers with a hand or foot, knocking them
to the OFF position or to the position of a fuel tank that's empty (like
the pilot's head at the time the switch was moved to OFF position).
3. The Baron has electric fuel
pumps and they should be turned on to help establish any interrupted flow of
fuel (Figure 3-5).
4. The mixtures are checked to
ensure that they're in the full forward position, meaning that these levers
won't restrict fuel flow to the engine (Figure 3-6).
5. This Baron doesn't have
alternate air levers, which act as an ancillary source of air in case airflow
through the air filter becomes blocked. If it did, we would want to move them to
the ON position. This is good to remember for the other planes you fly in
6. Checking that the magneto
switches are set to BOTH is important because they might have been bumped
accidentally and knocked to the OFF position (Figure 3-7).
7. Remember that flaps create
drag, so get those up as soon as possible.
8. Gear creates drag, too. If you
have altitude, raise the gear. However, if you are at a low altitude, you might
need to land, so keep them down. But you won't glide as far.
9. It could get rough, so stay
(Note: Since this a multiengine airplane, we would normally feather both
propellers in an engine failure condition. Feathering means pulling the prop
levers as far aft as possible to limit the drag produced by windmilling
propellers. We don't discuss propeller feathering in this lesson. You can,
however, assume that I'll feather both propellers in our airborne nest for you.
In real life, however, you'd have to feather your own nest). To learn about
feathering propellers, see Flying Twin-Engine Aircraft in the Learning
The object of the engine failure checklist is to get the engine running
again. You don't want to make a forced landing, unless you're forced to, right?
If you did manage to get that engine restarted, the only problem you now face is
explaining to your passengers why it suddenly got quiet in the cockpit (and why
you suddenly started sweating because passengers don't like to see these two
things occurring together). We'll assume that you were unable to restart the
engine for the purpose of this lesson. (Remember, even though I speak of an
engine failure in the singular form, I'm referring to both engines for the
Being Nosey About the Nose
As I've already mentioned, completing this checklist assumes that you're at a
reasonable enough altitude to make such a thing practical. Given that it takes
just a few seconds to run through this checklist, you shouldn't lose much
altitude during its completion. You should, of course, maintain 115 knots while
doing it. The big question is: should you leave the nose pointing in its current
direction, or point it somewhere else as you complete the checklist?
Professional thinking holds that safety-conscious pilots should always have a
safe landing spot in mind whenever and wherever they fly. In other words, a good
pilot is always scouting for a safe landing spot in the event of an engine
failure the moment he or she lifts off. Of course, an airport would always be a
preferred landing spot because it has runways, mechanics, and vending machines.
An open field is the next best choice if there's no airport nearby (but if has a
vending machine in the middle of it, please avoid it). Upon engine failure, the
pilot would instinctively and reflexively turn toward the airport or field and
run through the engine failure checklist. Once the checklist is completed, the
pilot's full attention can now be devoted to landing the airplane. If an engine
quits at a low altitude, then the pilot must immediately dedicate all of his or
her attention to configuring the airplane for a safe emergency landing before
completing the engine failure checklist (if there is even time to complete it,
of course). Engine failures after takeoff are a good example of this scenario.
There's often little or no time to play with a checklist when the airplane is
just a few hundred feet off the ground.
In this lesson, you'll experience an engine failure at 8,000 feet mean sea
level (MSL), which puts you approximately 7,400 feet above ground level (AGL).
You'll have plenty of time to complete the engine failure checklist in this
instance. Once done, you should use your GPS (Figure 3-8) to find the nearest
As you've learned by reading the GPS material in the Learning Center, all you
have to do is point the tiny airplane in the tiny moving map window toward the
tiny airport to begin moving towards it. This will keep you from landing off
field, possibly rolling the airplane up into a tiny little ball.
Because of that "psychicness" I mentioned in Commercial Lesson 2, I
predict that Paine Field will be the nearest airport to you. It's great being
psychic. It's also great being the one who writes these lessons, which helps
ensure that I'm psychic nearly 100 percent of the time. So point your nose
toward Paine Field and prepare to experience Paine. Let's also prepare for the
next step in this emergency landing.
Reduce the Pain of Emergency Landings
Paine Field has three runways for your landing pleasure (Figure 3-9).
It also has an air traffic control tower. Once you're pointed in the
direction of the airport, you should consider making a "Mayday" call.
This is where you transmit the words, "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday" on the
appropriate radio frequency. If you had an engine failure in the month of June
you wouldn't, however, transmit, "Juneday, Juneday, Juneday." No one
would understand what you mean, nor would anyone care what you mean.
"Mayday" is the international term for, "I've got an emergency
and need assistance." Obviously, it would be best to transmit on Paine
Tower's frequency since you're having your emergency there. If you didn't know
the tower frequency, then you should transmit on the international aviation
emergency frequency of 121.5 MHz. You'll certainly get someone's attention
here. The object is to inform someone of your problem and obtain any assistance
If you did transmit on Paine tower's frequency, the controller would most
likely ask you about the nature of your emergency. You should tell him that both
engines are inoperative and that you intend to make making an emergency landing
at Paine. The controller would most likely clear the entire airport of traffic
and make it "Airport Day for Bob" (if Bob is your name), meaning that
you have the place all to yourself. The controller might then ask what kind of
assistance you'd like. Sometimes they'll offer to roll the crash trucks in case
you needed that kind of assistance. I wouldn't, however, ask them if they could
roll the catering trucks instead. You want the controller to think you're hungry
for safety, not sandwiches.
Landing into the wind is an important objective during any emergency. This
provides you with the slowest touchdown speed and the shortest possible landing
distance. That's why when communicating with Paine tower, the controller would
most likely inform you of the runway that's most nearly aligned into the wind.
Pick that one. For this particular lesson, there will be no wind at Paine today.
(Not only am I psychic, I also control the wind. I love this job.) This means
you have the option of landing on any runway and in any direction you choose.
Given these choices, I would certainly fancy landing on the long runway, which
is 34L/16R. You should fancy that, too. Just don't try and fly fancy.
The Emergency Landing
Now that you've elected to make your emergency landing at Paine Field, let's
chat about the technique for doing it. Perhaps the single most important item in
the emergency landing process is to remain within gliding distance of the
airport. Obviously you'll have to circle down from above the airport, eventually
delivering yourself onto the downwind leg of the runway chosen for landing. It's
best to avoid making a straight-in approach with an engine failure when you can
fly a modified rectangular traffic pattern (Figure 3-10)
Why? Flying a rectangular pattern provides you with more
options for correcting any errors in judgment you've made about the airplane's
gliding distance. It's simply way too difficult to estimate how well you're
gliding when flying on a long final as compared to flying parallel to the runway
then turning base and final. You can change the geometry of a rectangular
pattern to reach the runway as shown in Figure 3-11. It's much more difficult to
change your glide range during a long final approach.
Since you're gliding directly toward the center of the airport, begin a
left-hand turn using between 20 and 30 degrees of bank when you're over the
center of the runway complex. Circling to the left above the airport allows you
to see it more easily during the descent since pilots often sit on the left side
of the airplane. This is known as a descending spiral. Your objective here is to
modify the bank angle slightly during the descent so as to remain over the
geographic center of the runway complex. This keeps you in the best position
from which to choose the most desirable landing runway as you get closer to
From this point on down, you're constantly watching, planning, plotting and
When you're approximately within 2,000 feet of airport elevation, you should
decide on the best runway to use for the emergency landing. Since Paine is 606
feet above sea level, you'll want to make this decision when you're
approximately 2,600 feet MSL. At this time, ask yourself which way you need to
maneuver so as to roll out on the downwind leg of a suitable landing runway. If
one runway is favored because of the wind conditions, you'll certainly want to
maneuver so as to rollout flying downwind and parallel to that runway. Your
objective should be to fly offset from the runway centerline by a distance of
approximately one quarter to one half of a mile (Figure 3-12). This should keep
you within gliding distance of the desired runway.
If you planned it properly, you should end up midfield,
flying downwind at an altitude between 2,000 and 1,500 feet AGL. Your objective
is to end up abeam the runway threshold at approximately 1,000 feet AGL (Figure
As you've learned in previous lessons, if you're too low or high from this
position, you can modify the shape of the pattern to help you glide to the
runway. During this portion of the lesson, make sure you use the keyboard or hat
switch on your joystick to keep an eye on the runway's position. Plan on turning
onto base leg when the runway is 45 degrees to the left of the wing if not just
a little sooner. As a general rule (even if you're not a general), it's always
better to be a little high than too low when landing without the use of the
engine. You can always lose altitude but it's very difficult to gain altitude
when the engine's on vacation. From the abeam position downwind, how you fly the
base and final legs determine whether or not you'll be able to glide to the
runway. Your ability to estimate glide distance and modify your flight path is a
matter of practice and experience.
On base leg, however, you're in a good best position to complete the emergency
landing checklist that follows:
Basic/Emergency Landing Checklist
- Airspeed: 115 knots until ready to roundout and flare
- Mixtures: Idle cutoff
- Fuel Shutoff Valves: OFF
- Ignition Switches: OFF
- Flaps: As Required
- Gear: Down
- Master Switch: OFF
- Doors: Unlatch Prior to Touchdown
Here's a brief explanation of each item above:
- You want to maintain 115 knots until you're in a position where you don't
need the best glide ability of the airplane. Most likely this will be when
you begin the roundout for the landing flare.
- Before landing, the mixtures should be set to idle cutoff to prevent
leaning fuel or a sudden engine restart at a time when you don't expect nor
- Fuel shutoff valves should be set to OFF to prevent fuel leaks
after touchdown or impact.
- Ignition switches are set to OFF to similarly prevent an
unanticipated engine restart, among other reasons.
- Flaps as required. Remember, if you're landing in a field, you'll want to
touchdown with full flaps (if possible) to reduce your touchdown speed.
- The landing gear should be down before landing unless you're landing on
water or similar surfaces, in which case you may want to make a gear-up
landing. No, we don't do this to prevent conking a flounder on the head. We
do so to prevent the airplane from nosing forward into the water upon
landing, possibly resulting in a flip over, much like the dolphin does
(which you don't want to do since no free snack of mackerel is involved).
- The master switch the next to last item that's turned off. This minimizes
an ignition source that could start a post-crash fire. It's last because, on
airplanes like the Baron, it takes electricity to lower the flaps and gear.
- Finally, you want to crack the airplane door open. This prevents the door
from being jammed if the touchdown is rough, meaning that you'll have an
easier time exiting the airplane if desired.
Because the purpose of this lesson is to train you in glide procedures, I'll
run through the engine failure checklist for you during flight. I want you to
concentrate on maintaining the proper glide speed and remaining within gliding
distance of the runway.
Well, that's the basic course in handling an engine failure in flight. I want
you to repeat this lessons as many times as you need to develop your
proficiency. Admittedly, it's much more challenging to handle a double engine
failure in a Baron than it is, say, a Cessna Skyhawk SP Model 172. The Baron
flies a little faster and comes down a little quicker. Nevertheless, if you can
successfully land this airplane at Paine Field, you can probably land most any
single engine airplane under the same conditions, too. The principles presented
here are generic, but you'll find the applicable to most other simulator-type
Click the Fly This Lesson link to practice what you've just learned.
THIS LESSON IS AVAILABLE IN THE
ACTIVE FLIGHT SIMULATOR PROGRAM