Could they have done anything differently?

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rtfm

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Jan 3, 2008
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Hi,
Are you serious?

"Examination of the right wing revealed that the right wing tank was not breached and was empty of fuel. Examination of the left wing revealed that the fuel tank was breached, but there was no evidence of fuel found in the debris field."

They take off without fuel and you ask if they could have done anything differently?

Duncan
 

Jman

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Duncan,

Are you serious?
Maybe he is asking a deeper question then the obvious. It appears the fuel was what caused the engine to fail. But what about crew coordination. Two commercial pilots and neither one thinks to check the fuel? Or maybe one thought of it but it was a hostile cockpit environment. Was there a crew brief? Were they in a hurry? Yes, ensuring fuel for flight may (not official yet) have prevented the accident. But what would have prevented them from forgetting to check? Crew briefs? Better fuel indication ergonomics? Better use of the checklist? What about preventing the deaths? Thought out Go / No-go decision point on turning back to the airport? More emergency procedure training? Of course, without knowing what really happened, it's impossible to know for sure, but they are good discussion points.
 

Dana

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Whatever happened to "if the engine fails on takeoff, land straight ahead regardless of obstacles"? That's the second thing they could have done differently. The first is not to take off without sufficient fuel (if that was indeed the problem).

How many of you really know exactly how much altitude (with safety margin) you need to complete a deadstick 180 followed by a flare? It's something you need to know (and practice).

-Dana

The difference between a hero and a fool is the outcome.
 

Midniteoyl

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Indiana
Barring not taking off on empty tanks, it looks like he tried to turn back to the field after engine failure (lack of fuel) while only 50 feet or so off the ground!
 

etterre

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Aug 30, 2006
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313
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St. Louis, MO, USA
My antennae went up at this:
A witness to the accident reported that he knew that the pilot was taking his airplane on a test flight
Why two pilots? I know that the initial test hours are single pilot... and there's a good reason for that. While this doesn't appear to have been within that initial test period, I don't see any real reason why you should have two pilots. If data collection is a concern, then maybe you should get some logging software, like the nice package Waiter has put together and collect the data that way. Heck, even a Garmin 296+ can do most of the recording you need (for your various V speeds), and if you're watching engine params then you should probably have an engine monitor (which most likely records anyway) to get clean data instead of "needle watching."

Dunno... sounds sad no matter how you slice it.
 

rrruuunnn

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Jul 30, 2008
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I skimmed over the report. And didn't notice the fuel was empty. I am surprised that two professionals didn't check the fuel. What I'm asking: Could they have taken off in a more safe way in preparation for unexpected engine failure.
 

tyc

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Sep 16, 2008
Messages
60
In the case of "stupid helicopter accidents" I know of one and there are probably others in which the thoughless "pilot" untied three of the four tie-down lines around the skids, got in the aircraft, lifted off, only to crash right back down - completely destroying the machine. A Hughes 500 if memory serves me right.

tyc
 

rtfm

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I skimmed over the report. And didn't notice the fuel was empty. I am surprised that two professionals didn't check the fuel. What I'm asking: Could they have taken off in a more safe way in preparation for unexpected engine failure.
Hi,
From what we can gather in the report, the takeoff seems pretty standard. However, one of the things I had drilled into me during my training was that in the event of a power failure after takeoff, (1) stick forward to glide attitude (2) look for a place to land 5 degrees either side of straight ahead. And we practised this repeatedly till it became second nature. I never knew when the instructor would, without warning, pull the power back. So to turn back to the field is just plain poor airmanship in my opinion. Commercial pilots or not.

Many pilots, however, realising that often landing straight ahead may not be an option (forests, houses etc) spend the time at altitude to see how much height they lose in making a 180 degree turn without power and at takeoff speed/attitude - ie they simulate at a safe height a loss of power at takeoff. It is surprising how much altitude one actually loses making a no-power 180 degree turn. But once you know this, then turning back to the field in athe event of a power loss may be an option if one has sufficient altitude.

I say may, because even if one has sufficient altitude to theoretically complete the turn, one has to factor in the response time of the pilot. In simulating the scenario at altitude, one is in control of the "failure" timing, and pilot reaction time is not a significant variable. However, it may take the pilot a number of seconds to realise what has happened, and then to initiate a response. And in a circumstance like this, even one or two seconds could be the difference between living and dying.

Finally, there is the ever-present possibility of stalling in the turn. The plane will be close to its stalling speed anyway, and without power, will lose speed rapidly (hence the check forward on the stick). The very fact of undertaking a turn will further increase the chances of stalling the plane.

Whichever way you look at it, if your engine cuts out on takeoff, you are in deep poo. And if there are houses, trees, etc ahead of you, you can pretty much kiss your chances good-bye.

Regards,
Duncan
 

onelix

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Oct 18, 2008
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chile
the other day, close to my home town, a cessna crash. when they start the investigation, they see the pilot was flying with the secondary fuel tanks (both was empy). but the fuel indicator switch, was in the primery fuel tank position. so, when he was out of fuel, he saw the fuel indicator but they show the wrong tanks, who was full.

i saw the accident and i think the airplane enter in a stall maybe at 30 meters AGL.
 

tyc

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Sep 16, 2008
Messages
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... a cessna crash. ... the pilot was flying with the secondary fuel tanks (both was empy). but the fuel indicator switch, was in the primery fuel tank position. so, when he was out of fuel, he saw the fuel indicator but they show the wrong tanks, who was full.

i saw the accident and i think the airplane enter in a stall maybe at 30 meters AGL.
I'd heard of that happening before; i.e., fuel selector switch set for the wrong tank(s).

Saw that Avitar of yours - the French Bleriot isn't it? I recently d/l two sets of plans for the old design. I may never build one but they're interesting to look at. If you're looking for plans for these machines, try one of the following www sites:

Prince Plans
Bleriot.org

By the way don't appologize for your English. By any reasonable standard I know of, you did pretty darn good there! :)

tyc
 

Inverted Vantage

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Jun 19, 2008
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As others have said, it sounded like they were trying to make the Impossible Turn.

St. Augustine Airport Florida - Google Maps

I believe this is the same airport; unfortunately the report doesn't say the direction of flight. Either way, however, it looks like the pilot made the wrong choice with trying to turn; as the accident report says, he made the left turn before the runway's end; on either direction, that would have given him enough distance to make a (bad) straight away landing. He might have been trying to avoid a crash landing to save his aircraft, however, if he was taking off on 13 he would have probably been able to put it down in the marshy area in a more controlled manner (I'm guessing this is the direction he did take off in at any rate; the ground obstacles match the report). If he had taken off on runway 31, he would have had a nearby highway to put it down on. Instead he tried to make that turn, didn't have the energy or altitude, and went in.
 

wally

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southwest TN.
Each airplane is different.

If you are thinking about doing this shortly after takeoff, wind velocity and direction and aircraft airspeed will make some difference too. Unless you have practiced this maneuver at altitude and KNOW you can turn back to the runway and can land, probably downwind, your best bet is shove the stick hard forward to best glide speed and continue straight ahead.

This is something a lot of pilots haven't done much. Get plenty of altitude to begin. Then set up just like you are climbing after takeoff, you will be slow and full throttle. Pull the power back to idle and see how much of a nose down push it takes to maintain airspeed and get to best glide speed. You can also practice a 180 turn after some of this. It may be that a hard nose down shove followed by a very steep turn, 60 degrees or more may be the way with the least altitude loss. Even then, will you have enough altitude to get back to the runway? A lot of practice is needed before you will know if it can be done. You must maintain a coordinated turn too because, remember, you are slow and turning, a spin is very likely too. You do know how to recover from a spin, don't you!

If it happens for real, carefully watch your airspeed! A stall, spin from only a few hundred feel is fatal. However a straight ahead controlled crash at minimum airspeed can be survivable. Aim between large objects like trees. As Bob Hoover said: Fly it as far into the crash as you can" He survived 4 or 5 crashes.
Wally
 

BBerson

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Port Townsend WA
I almost crashed practicing an engine failure at 300 feet at takeoff. The Piper Cherokee just drops like a rock. I barely got the power back in time. It was a good lesson, it taught me that a 180 degree is usually impossible.
Practicing the low turn is dangerous. I have tried unpowered 180 degree turns next to a 3000 foot mountain top to visualize the height loss. That way I had an extra 2000 feet to recover.
BB
 

handprop

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156
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wisconsin
I don't want to cause any conflict here but the idea is to never be in a position where you have to do a 180 deadstick. Some airplanes need to stick to a 5000' runway but others may require only 900'. The real difference IMO is the airplane. A J3 Cub doesn't require a 5000' runway in order to land straight ahead, whereas a B-17 shouldn't be landed on a 900' grass strip and expected to be able to do a 180. I think Wally is on target here as everything revolves around the airplane and pilot discression. As pilots we are 100% responsible for safe landings. If, in the event we have found ourself in a situation where we could not prevent, at 50' is where we get out our lucky rabbit foot and rub like hell.:shock:

As far as empty tanks....there will never be a good reason for this.

Just my own opinion.....Mike
 

Alan Waters

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Conover N.C.
Wally. No I don't know how to recover from a spin. I have never flown a plane. I think I would like to build something like the Zenith STOL 750. Lets use this plane as an example for the deadstick 180. As for the spin, after some thought I guess I would put the nose down if I had the altitude. From 300 ft. I have no idea.
 
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