# Engine failure turn back.

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#### BBerson

##### Light Plane Philosopher
HBA Supporter
Auto-land apparently works when the pilot is not functioning.
Not sure if it works when the engine quits on takeoff.

#### mcrae0104

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
Presumably the pilot is still functioning in that scenario!

#### Vigilant1

##### Well-Known Member
It's easier now but back in the day I used to enjoy giving people cash and watching them struggle to know how much change to give especially when the bill would be something like $5.17 and you hand them$10.25.
The funny thing is, to make change at a cash drawer in the fastest and most accurate way requires almost no math skills at all. You walk across the coin trays and count up from the bill amount (using the various coins) until you get to an even dollar, then do the same with the paper currency until you reach the amount the customer gave you (which should still be sitting outside the till, never added to it until the change is given and the customer acknowledges it. Reduces the likelihood of the "I gave you a $20, not a$10" scam. "Nope, what you gave me is right here" )

#### Dan Thomas

##### Well-Known Member
The desirability of a tool to aid you very much depends upon your attitude and ( should also ) skills. I was assuming a "panic button" programmed to display available KNOWN landing spots. That function seems to be within reasonable technical capacity. It would show only pre-programmed legal landing fields, as the judgment call as to suitability of mall parking lots or school yards is difficult to program for. I think we can agree that complex decision making is beyond unclassified civilian A.I. ( and military Terminator stuff is irrelevant to this thread)
The Garmin G1000 has had that for some time. It has a "nearest" button that highlights the nearest airport. It also has a glide range ring and a fuel range ring, too.

#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
The funny thing is, to make change at a cash drawer in the fastest and most accurate way requires almost no math skills at all. You walk across the coin trays and count up from the bill amount (using the various coins) until you get to an even dollar, then do the same with the paper currency until you reach the amount the customer gave you (which should still be sitting outside the till, never added to it until the change is given and the customer acknowledges it. Reduces the likelihood of the "I gave you a $20, not a$10" scam. "Nope, what you gave me is right here" )
Exactly!

#### F3A-1

##### Active Member
Engines quit. Almost always they quit when you park and lean the mixture.

Sometimes they quit just after lift off (when a jumper has kicked the fuel selector to "off") and you just land straight ahead "ON" the runway.

Folks quit looking at just the turnback. The people in the plane and on the ground need the pilot to do the right thing at any point in the entire flight! Please don't look at just one small portion of the flight. As a pilot you should plan on an engine to quit when you need it most, because that is the most critical for pilot response. Sometimes even Bob Hoover could not avoid a crash.

I would recommend not to focus on just one possible time for becoming a self launched glider.

#### BBerson

##### Light Plane Philosopher
HBA Supporter
I don't trust the altimeter for the practice dead stick maneuvers. It can be delayed 50-200 feet depending on age.
My glider instructor would always tap on the altimeter while thermaling to get the needle unstuck and jump 50 feet.
With no vibration the needle sticks.

#### atypicalguy

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Such machinery assumes that the wind at your level is the same as on the ground, which it very often is not. If you have a tailwind that will convince the computer that you will reach that field, as you descend the wind will weaken (as it usually does) and you'll come up short. Sometimes the wind direction at 500 feet can be completely different that the wind at the surface. The computer also assumes you will maintain best glide, something not often done when under severe stress. And the weight and CG of the airplane figures into it as well.

There is NO substitute for training, knowledge and experience. We have seen this borne out in the stupid airliner accidents like the Air France crash into the Atlantic as they descended in a stall all the way to the water. Or the Asiana airliner that crashed short of the runway in San Francisco, with several pilots in the cockpit and none of them flying the thing, all assuming that the autothrottles were looking after stuff.

Computers are only as good as the people programming and using them. A pilot needs to know instantly when something isn't looking right. Instantly. And that takes training and experience.
I guess I would not argue that it would supplant good training; that is a false dichotomy. I envisioned it more as decision support for the pilot while they fly the plane. I recall seeing people talk about situations where the pilot was so focused on landing in a particular place that they did not even consider landing on a 90 degree road or other available path that would be much easier to make than the runway. I think simple things like which airports are within reasonable glide distance are pretty easy to calculate based upon wind and altitude if the actual glide of the plane is known. The citation guys with dpf in the tank talked about how they really did not know the estimated power off glide for their plane and then had to calculate whether a given target airport was reachable while they were falling out of the sky. Seems like something foreflight can tell you pretty easily, including runway lengths etc.

#### atypicalguy

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
First, I'm a Luddite, too.

The desirability of a tool to aid you very much depends upon your attitude and ( should also ) skills. I was assuming a "panic button" programmed to display available KNOWN landing spots. That function seems to be within reasonable technical capacity. It would show only pre-programmed legal landing fields, as the judgment call as to suitability of mall parking lots or school yards is difficult to program for. I think we can agree that complex decision making is beyond unclassified civilian A.I. ( and military Terminator stuff is irrelevant to this thread)

Such an A.I. display would be relatively easy for powered flight, making assumptions like "standard rate" turns and reasonable airspeed limits, but be more challenging for power loss scenarios. Not, I think, impossible, but very difficult to do, as the computer would need to constantly update it's internal model. Perhaps color coded zones, that would change in near real time. It might just display "good luck" if there's no runway in reach. ( which I'm assuming is the case when arguing about "impossible turns" )

Question. Is autopilot "panic button, land us safely while I give the copilot CPR", function available? ( today? No matter if you want or can afford )
Yes I think one should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It could start with known airfields and later undertake a more sophisticated approach. It definitely would be possible to do a fairly detailed analysis of one's home airfield options based upon wind conditions and altitude, to include roads. This is really what led to the effort described in the EAA video - one dude figuring out what his options were in his plane for his home field.

#### Turd Ferguson

##### Well-Known Member
If the first rate journalism is accurate, this might be the lowest "engine failure turn back" ever attempted:

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
It's easier now but back in the day I used to enjoy giving people cash and watching them struggle to know how much change to give especially when the bill would be something like $5.17 and you hand them$10.25.
My father was very, very good at math and could spit out an answer as fast as someone using a calculator. Professional gambler, card counter, ( the type not allowed at Vegas ). Also photographic memory. My youngest son also ,( missed me). My father used his gift one way and my youngest son used the same gift a different way , computer engineer and Wall Street stock market. Son was doing 12 grade HS work at 12 years old. Only 12 year old kid that I knew that read the Wall-Street Journal every day.

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
If the first rate journalism is accurate, this might be the lowest "engine failure turn back" ever attempted:

I had an engine failure at about 30-40' on takeoff in a Cherokee 140 when a mud-wasp plugged the fuel tank vent up when I stopped at the airport for about 20 minutes. Larger airport and got it down and stopped before crossing an intersection runway.

#### Hephaestus

##### Well-Known Member

AOPA did some testing

#### Daleandee

##### Well-Known Member
Pretty good video from AOPA. I'm sure the results would have been different if flying a pattern i.e. turning crosswind at 700' and turning downwind would be near 1000'. So if I'm at 1000' going downwind and the engine quits, I should be somewhere on the airport property if not on the runway when the wheels find terra firma. Very seldom do I depart straight out ... for that very reason.

#### atypicalguy

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
The EAA webinar video takes a far more sophisticated approach to the issue. Nowhere in the AOPA video does it state for instance that the reason the cub makes it back is because it has 150hp and therefore climbs much more vertically than it glides. Nor do they point out the eaa effort or the available data cards and instructions on how to test and record the climb and glide slopes for your own aircraft in Foreflight, to avoid having to test at low altitude as they did in the aopa vid. Instead they just tell people not to do it (!).

Here is the link for the test cards to record your own data: eaa.org/testcards

Download them and fill them out with your flight test data, and record the runs in Foreflight and include that data in the email. Then email to:
FTM@eaa.org
They will put together a bunch of plots of your airplane's performance and send them to you and put together a climb and glide path superimposed upon your home runway to show if you would make it back at that location under various conditions. You may have to join eaa, but that seems like a fair price to pay.

In case you want more detail, here is the eaa webinar link again which explains all this in more detail:

EAA has its pluses and minuses but they are really doing a good job on demystifying this topic for average pilots. This aopa video draws some oversimplified conclusions which are frankly not that helpful for individual pilots in figuring out their odds at their home field.

#### PagoBay

##### Well-Known Member
Here is the link for the test cards to record your own data: eaa.org/testcards
Download them and fill them out with your flight test data, and record the runs in Foreflight and include that data in the email. Then email to:
FTM@eaa.org
You are the FOURTH post on this initiative from EAA. See Post #121 // #146 // #178 .

An excellent program. Requires real effort and attention to all the relevant details discussed in this long thread.

#### BJC

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
I have been reluctant to post altitude / airspeed combinations for my turn-backs, but since there now are multiple numbers being posted, I will post one combination that I routinely practiced.

Cessna A152, (the Aerobat is aerodynamically identical to the C152, and slightly heavier) with STC’d Sensenich propeller (slightly better RoC), full fuel, with just me at 225 pounds on board. I routinely pulled power at 350 ft. AGL and 60 knots, waited one second, then successfully completed the turn. Do not try this until you have the relevant experience, and after practicing at altitude before working your way down to low level. I have multiple posts here about my technique.

On takeoff, I called aloud, “300 and 60, turnback possible” as I passed through that combination. [see edit, below]

I have two notable exceptions to most of the AOPA / EAA / other practices. First, I mentally brief on loss of power options before every takeoff, and I fully expect a loss of power on every takeoff, so I wait for one second rather than the recommended three.

Second, I am experienced in low level aerobatics, so my steep 60 +/- degree bank, descending turn with nothing but trees or dirt in the windshield is not disconcerting.

My biggest problem with the above was (I don’t have the A152 any more) that an aggressive slip (full rudder) was necessary not to run off of the end of the runway. My Sportsman has manually operated flaps, so I now go to full flaps and full rudder slip as soon as the turn has been completed.

Another advantage here, and often at other airports, is my practice of turning downwind about 15 degrees immediately after liftoff. That makes the altitude / speed combinations that I use even more conservative.

See my prior posts about practicing, with consistent success, before actually attempting, because your results may be different.

[Edit. I practiced down to 300 feet AGL and 60 knots. With an offset climb and some crosswind, the turn back was successful about half the time, but that was no guarantee that I would attempt the turn.]

BJC

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#### rollerball

##### Active Member
The decision what do do/where to land in the event of an engine failure should be taken before starting the take off roll. It's too late once you are airborne. And you need to set an abort point too and stick to it if there's any kind of problem before leaving the ground.

I say this from experience. 9 years ago I did not do the latter, took off from a waterlogged runway without enough airspeed and ended up in the treetops 30 feet from the ground. My passenger and I were unhurt but ended up having to climb back down to the ground. It was easy for me to blame the wet runway but if I had done a thorough inspection and set a predefined abort point, maybe the incident could have been avoided, so partly (mostly?) my bad. But I learned from it.

Last year I had two incidents in an ultralight with a fuel delivery problem that only revealed itself at full (ie take off) power. I took off and at about 50 feet or less the engine began to run very erratically, rising and then dying away in power. There were possibilities to land straight ahead (in a field with cows) or to the right in a small valley but both options would have involved demounting the wings and trailering the aircraft back. But I would have done it because I'd already decided before taking off that they were the safest options for both me and the aircraft.

However, I realised after a few seconds while I was preparing myself mentally to land straight ahead that it appeared that the engine was not going to completely stop and was going to continue in the same way probably indefinitely. It was then and only then that I decided that it was worth trying a 180. Luckily I was successful and managed to land back with quite a tail wind. Observers on the ground raced to 'rescue' me thinking that at the speed I came in at I must have ended in the trees at the take off end only to find me calmly taxying back in up the runway.

The lesson I learned from that is make your emergency landing plan before you take off and stick to it. Only change it when you know with some certainty that doing something else eg a 180 will lead to a more desirable outcome.

Your (and possibly your passenger's) life is not something you play Russian roulette with.

#### Pops

##### Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Log Member
My instructor taught me to always play "What IF" for every takeoff.