Lesson 17, The Forced Landing

There I was...

In the Bucker Jungmann, the Hirth giving a healthy amount of power as we climbed into the downwind for 26 at Redhill when suddenly.... bang! The engine wanted to jump out of its mounts and leave us behind. I switched the mags off, and raised the nose to stop the propeller from rotating, I wanted the engine to stay on the front of the aeroplane even if it wasn't providing any power!
Prop stopped, I lowered the nose into the best glide, turned towards 01, and turned the fuel off.
We glided silently down and rolled out on the grass. It was a hot summer's day, and the push back to the hangar took some effort.
Every time I take off I imagine what I would do and where I would go if the engine failed at various points in my departure. So primed, my reactions were quick and correct and the aeroplane sustained no further damage.
The crankshaft had broken between No3, and No4 cylinders.

Don't assume that because I was flying a vintage aeroplane, this was inevitable... My next mechanical engine failure was in a Cherokee with the reliable (?) Lycoming 0-320, and likewise I pulled off a safe landing. The camshaft and cam followers were corroded and parts failed, noisily! I throttled right back, I still had some power, but not for long if I stressed it!

Forced Landing

Engine failure, fuel exhaustion, mechanical failure, and fire are all possible reasons for wanting to be on the ground right now!
To do this we have a forced landing procedure that borrows elements from the circuits and landings you have already done in your training.
The object of this procedure is to put you in the same position you would be when you are turning base to do a glide approach to the runway.

Being Prepared

Like the precautionary landing a basic knowledge of what the character of the fields is for the season and the terrain will be invaluable.
A safe pilot is always aware of the terrain he or she is flying over, locating possible landing places for the unlikely (we hope) event that the engine fails.
Landing places might be airstrips, fields, roads, or river gravel bars; there might be nowhere to go but the best place to crash!
Always have a plan, and go from emergency landing place to emergency landing place.


Engine Failure during flight

So what do we do when there is a sudden quiet?

1. Carb Heat hot. Carb icing is the most common cause of engine failure (next to running out of fuel!).

2. Turn towards your selected field, and set best glide attitude. The best glide speed is shown in your POH

3. Identify the wind direction.

4. Pick the base turning point or the 1,000 foot point, as shown.

5. Carry out the cause checks. If you don’t know them do these; FIMC (for most a/c types below).

Fuel, On (fullest tank), sufficient, pump on, primer in and locked

Ignition, check your mags if the engine's misfiring use good mag.

Mixture, Rich

Carb Heat, (already on), alternate air, open throttle

If the engine is backfiring badly it might run smoother on one mag.

6. If the engine fails to respond and time permits call Mayday on whatever frequency you are already using or 121.5 as necessary.

7. Turn the ELT on at this stage if fitted.

8. Set transponder to 7700.

9. Brief your passenger (similar to the precautionary landing).

10. Fly the procedure

Priority is to fly the aeroplane first.

Cessna 152 Procedure

Relate wing strut position to glide distance as practiced in the circuit. (POH C152 4.5 miles/3,000’)
At the 1000 foot point determine whether you are too high or too low and plan your approach accordingly.
Unlock the cabin door(s) and use a ‘shoe’ to wedge it open.

When committed secure the engine as per the POH.

Switch the master switch off when flaps or other ancillaries (gear) have been set.

Aim 1/3 of the distance into the field until a safe landing is assured.

Land the aeroplane.

If safe turn off the ELT. If in a remote location leave it on.

Phone FSS or ATS if practical.

Engine Failure In The Circuit

When you are operating from any airfield, always have a plan for the departure, where will I go if the engine stops at….? Look at the departure path and see which way you might go.

When you fly into a strange aerodrome, look at its surroundings and note possible landing places.

From the crosswind leg, it might be practical to land downwind on the runway.

On downwind you should be able to make the runway.

Control your height on base and finals, aim 1/3 the way into the runway and you won’t be embarrassed by an engine failure here.

If traffic means you have to extend your circuit, keep your height until you know you can get in.

If the engine fails during takeoff and the cause is not found but it suddenly picks up again, it may be safer to land straight ahead in any case.

Simple Sequence

1. Carb heat hot; or stop rotation if severe mechanical failure.
2. Set glide while turning towards your field.
3. Cause check.

Carb – alternate air. Open throttle.

4. Attempt start
No start!
5. Mayday – 7700
6. Passenger brief
7. Try again! Then secure engine (fuel off, ignition/mags off).
8. Fly procedure
9. Doors open and master switch off, on final.

Michael Peare 2004