Engine failure turn back.

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Dan Thomas

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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 (!).
They tell people not to do it because so many crash trying it. It takes some serious training and practice to achieve, and we already have pilots that crash because they didn't even bother to pay attention to simple stuff like the carb ice stuff in groundschool. Carb ice is a big killer and it's completely avoidable. If we need anything it's more training on the stuff that causes the most accidents. Engine failures after takeoff are rare and in many cases landing straight ahead, more or less, is safer than trying to save the airplane by turning back.

What causes the most accidents? Carb ice. VFR into IMC with loss of control or CFIT. Running out of fuel. Landing too fast, or trying to clear the obstacles on takeoff because you didn't look up the stuff in the POH. Stall/spins due to mishandling the airplane in several different scenarios.

Engine failures on climbout are most often due to maintenance-related issues, mostly a lack of maintenance. Teaching turnbacks is treating symptoms, not the disease. Owners are cheap or uninformed; it has to be one or the other. If an airplane is properly maintained it will serve you faithfully. If it's not, you can expect trouble. I have opened fuel strainers that appear to not have been apart in 20 years or more; the screens are half-clogged with crud. That's a 100-hour/annual item. Same with carb inlet screens. On takeoff the fuel flow is at its max, and any restrictions in the fuel system can cause a big panic. I've found fuel tank quick-drain valves clogged with debris; they couldn't have been draining water out at preflight like that. Strainer bowls corroded almost all the way through because nobody ever drained the water out of them. Over on Pilots Of America we regularly have new tales of alternator failures that could be fatal at night or in IMC, because the alternators are being run to failure instead of getting their 500-hour internal inspections. Their field brushes wear out. Same goes for magnetos, which have points that burn, distributor bearings that wear, rotor bearings that wear, lots of stuff. Another 500-hour item, but they're habitually run to failure. Vacuum pumps that fail in IMC/night, leaving the pilot with no gyros. They're worn out far beyond the manufacturer's limits. Fuel boost pumps, a ten-year replacement/overhaul item, usually, that are as old as the airplane. Good luck if the engine-driven pump fails and the tired boost pump can't keep up. Same with fuel and oil hoses, a five-year item unless they're teflon. Hose liners degrade and can crumble and clog stuff. Old hoses get hard like wood and can crack and fail. Lots of stuff just waiting to get you.
 

atypicalguy

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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.
Or even post 89. Which was mine. Anyway I think AOPA should have referenced the other effort in their vid and done that process instead of testing three or four random planes, drawing firm conclusions and posting it as some sort of authoritative analysis.
 

tallank

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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.
It is not a 180. It is a 360. After you do the 180 you than have to do two 90s.
 

BJC

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It is not a 180. It is a 360. After you do the 180 you than have to do two 90s.
That depends on the airplane and the technique. Could be a 225 followed by a 45 for a total of 270.

My technique (a tight turn-back that reduces the distance to glide significantly) is closer to a 200 followed by a 20 for a total of 220. If I have turned downwind after liftoff, it is even less.


BJC
 

rollerball

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It is not a 180. It is a 360. After you do the 180 you than have to do two 90s.
That's pushing it in my book. I landed back on with a tail wind in the example I gave . If you're low with an engine that could die at any moment I'd NEVER attempt a 360. I'd prefer to either land straight ahead or within 30/40 degrees left or right. That depends on what's there of course. A 360 would only be a plan if you had plenty of height. I did a bit of gliding and when landing you have to plan for your high and low key reference points. The low key point is when you turn base leg and you do that at 500 feet just as you pass the threshold. Now bearing in mind that gliders (sailplanes) have much superior glide ratios than what we fly that tells me that you've got to start off pretty high to do a 360 and get in safely with our sort of aircraft otherwise IMO you're playing with a loaded revolver. As I say IMO and I understand fully that others might disagree. You know what they say.. there are old pilots and there are bold pilots... and anyone who knows me knows that I'm pretty old :)
 

TFF

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If you can do a 180 and two 90s, you are doing an aerobatic maneuver. True emergency at the cusp, you doing a 270 and if you make the field, you will straighten out as much as you can. Diagonal across the runway, taking down a taxi light or two, grass, taxiway; anywhere there is airport, no pedestrians or airplanes or ditches. Knowing what the altitude you can do 180/90/90 would be smart; you engine will quit 100 ft below that.
 

atypicalguy

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They tell people not to do it because so many crash trying it. It takes some serious training and practice to achieve, and we already have pilots that crash because they didn't even bother to pay attention to simple stuff like the carb ice stuff in groundschool. Carb ice is a big killer and it's completely avoidable. If we need anything it's more training on the stuff that causes the most accidents. Engine failures after takeoff are rare and in many cases landing straight ahead, more or less, is safer than trying to save the airplane by turning back.

What causes the most accidents? Carb ice. VFR into IMC with loss of control or CFIT. Running out of fuel. Landing too fast, or trying to clear the obstacles on takeoff because you didn't look up the stuff in the POH. Stall/spins due to mishandling the airplane in several different scenarios.

Engine failures on climbout are most often due to maintenance-related issues, mostly a lack of maintenance. Teaching turnbacks is treating symptoms, not the disease. Owners are cheap or uninformed; it has to be one or the other. If an airplane is properly maintained it will serve you faithfully. If it's not, you can expect trouble. I have opened fuel strainers that appear to not have been apart in 20 years or more; the screens are half-clogged with crud. That's a 100-hour/annual item. Same with carb inlet screens. On takeoff the fuel flow is at its max, and any restrictions in the fuel system can cause a big panic. I've found fuel tank quick-drain valves clogged with debris; they couldn't have been draining water out at preflight like that. Strainer bowls corroded almost all the way through because nobody ever drained the water out of them. Over on Pilots Of America we regularly have new tales of alternator failures that could be fatal at night or in IMC, because the alternators are being run to failure instead of getting their 500-hour internal inspections. Their field brushes wear out. Same goes for magnetos, which have points that burn, distributor bearings that wear, rotor bearings that wear, lots of stuff. Another 500-hour item, but they're habitually run to failure. Vacuum pumps that fail in IMC/night, leaving the pilot with no gyros. They're worn out far beyond the manufacturer's limits. Fuel boost pumps, a ten-year replacement/overhaul item, usually, that are as old as the airplane. Good luck if the engine-driven pump fails and the tired boost pump can't keep up. Same with fuel and oil hoses, a five-year item unless they're teflon. Hose liners degrade and can crumble and clog stuff. Old hoses get hard like wood and can crack and fail. Lots of stuff just waiting to get you.
Interesting, but what is behind this? Mechanics not looking or owners refusing to pay? It isnt like there is usually a discussion like "this is the cheap annual, this is the medium annual, and this is the annual if you really don't want anything to fail? And what about most engine failures happening within 10 hours of engine maintenance? Diesnt maintaining the plane have some risk also? Thanks.
 

Dan Thomas

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Interesting, but what is behind this? Mechanics not looking or owners refusing to pay? It isnt like there is usually a discussion like "this is the cheap annual, this is the medium annual, and this is the annual if you really don't want anything to fail? And what about most engine failures happening within 10 hours of engine maintenance? Diesnt maintaining the plane have some risk also? Thanks.
In the maintenance business we have a series of factors called the Dirty Dozen:

1623003737239.png

A good shop educates its mechanics in Human Factors so as to avoid bad outcomes. Too often, though, the job is a paycheck instead of a calling, and complacency sets in. Then the above factors start doing their thing, stuff gets overlooked or doesn't get repaired properly, and problems can happen. A cheap owner represents Pressure and Stress. The mechanic who Lacks Assertiveness goes along with what the owner wants. The shop, no matter how good or bad it is, has Norms: the normal way of doing things, and if those norms are bad they need changing before someone is sorry.

Most engine failures within ten hours of maintenance? Where does this stuff come from? Most engine failures are due to pilot error: mishandling of carb ice, running out of fuel or mismanaging the fuel system, water in the fuel, running out of oil. Maintenance-related failures are overwhelmingly due to a LACK of maintenance, and that's on the owner, too. Complacency among owners is endemic. Mechanics, or service managers, should be educating the owners, but so often the owner just thinks the mechanic is trying to sell him work he doesn't need. And some do that.
 

atypicalguy

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I think the idea came from Mike Busch: Do Piston Engine TBOs Make Sense? |
Apparently it is not within the first 10 hours, but within 0-499. To quote from the link:

What Dr. Ulrich’s research demonstrates unequivocally is striking and disturbing frequency of “infant-mortality” engine-failure accidents during the first few years and first few hundred hours after an engine is built, rebuilt or overhauled. Ulrich’s findings makes it indisputably clear that by far the most likely time for you to fall out of the sky due to a catastrophic engine failure is when the engine is young, not when it’s old.

1623005023332.png
 

Dan Thomas

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I think the idea came from Mike Busch: Do Piston Engine TBOs Make Sense? |
Apparently it is not within the first 10 hours, but within 0-499. To quote from the link:

What Dr. Ulrich’s research demonstrates unequivocally is striking and disturbing frequency of “infant-mortality” engine-failure accidents during the first few years and first few hundred hours after an engine is built, rebuilt or overhauled. Ulrich’s findings makes it indisputably clear that by far the most likely time for you to fall out of the sky due to a catastrophic engine failure is when the engine is young, not when it’s old.

View attachment 111404
There's an easy explanation for that: If there's a flaw in that engine, it's going to show up sooner rather than later. But note the slope of the graph, and add up the accidents from 500 to 3000 or more and see how the total compares to the 0-500 amount. Way worse. It's easy to read the numbers all wrong and come to a wrong conclusion. There is, according to that graph, a better chance of engine failure sometime AFTER the 500-hour mark.
 

atypicalguy

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Yes I was shooting from the hip trying to remember the stats in the earlier post. But you have to agree that it is sort of the opposite of what we might expect if engine rebuilds were actually as good as people seem to think for engine longevity.
 

Dan Thomas

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Yes I was shooting from the hip trying to remember the stats in the earlier post. But you have to agree that it is sort of the opposite of what we might expect if engine rebuilds were actually as good as people seem to think for engine longevity.
You can't have an engine that reaches its 2500-hour mark and then stay there at low risk for the next 1000 hours. It has to be rebuilt or replaced sooner or later. And even that 2000-2500 hour statistic is misleading: There are very few engines that reach that point, so very few of the failures are in that group. The vast majority of engines wear out; they don't quit.

Everything made by humans will have flaws of some sort. This is not a perfect world. The key is knowing how close to perfect we can make it and still be able to afford it. Aircraft engines (and their overhauls) are expensive because so much has to be replaced and so much care taken in its assembly and testing. And they're expensive because pilots do stupid stuff like flying into mountainsides in the fog, and their estates sue Lycoming. Lycoming and the other manufacturers) have to maintain teams of lawyers to defend them in court, and they have to set aside a significant portion of the money they get from a sale for insurance against that engine for its next 18 years.

General aviation is already 99.98 percent safe. That's a rough number but if it was accurate, it means that you'd have to crash once in five thousand flights. There are an awful lot of pilots that have way more than 5000 flights without an accident. Now, the governments seem to want to eliminate that .02% risk, but getting to perfection is really, really expensive. Most of us could never afford it. All we can do is get good training, get good maintenance, and keep both of those up.
 

atypicalguy

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Using the plane seems like one of the more important variables. Things that get used also get maintained better.

I was just hoping to get a sense as a consumer of how to approach finding a mechanic and evaluating what they are doing and not doing. It is hard to tell who is going to be distracted and stressed while they are working on your plane.
 
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Dan Thomas

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I was just hoping to get a sense as a consumer of how to approach finding a mechanic and evaluating what they are doing and not doing. It is hard to tell who is going to be distracted and stressed while they are working on your plane.
Ask for some references. Ask those references why they take their airplane to that shop. If it's because it's quick and/or cheap, watch out. You might even ask the local FSDO or equivalent if it's a good shop.

And find out if they prohibit cellphones on the shop floor. That's one huge distraction right there. Not only a distraction, but the time those guys spend texting is time you're paying for.
 

Daleandee

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And find out if they prohibit cellphones on the shop floor. That's one huge distraction right there. Not only a distraction, but the time those guys spend texting is time you're paying for.
Kinda like pilots that have a cell phone stuck in their ear during the preflight.

I was taught that when you seen pilot preflighting a plane you stay well away until they are done. I also insist that those at the airport give me the same courtesy.
 
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gtae07

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Now, the governments seem to want to eliminate that .02% risk, but getting to perfection is really, really expensive.
Yep. See it on the cert rules side too. The regs themselves haven't changed in a long time, but the FAA's interpretation of how to meet the regs gets ever more demanding and outlandish. They posit ever-more-unlikely scenarios for failures and problems, and you wind up having to assume (for example) that on your latest aircraft an engine fire will result in a box-shaped fireball with a height and width of twice the diameter of the engine. Everything within that box is subject to special requirements. Who's ever seen a box-shaped fireball on a moving airplane?

Commercial air transportation is about as safe as it's humanly possible to get. But the FAA and others seem like they have to continue to justify their existence by showing continual improvement even when there's not much room left for it.
 

atypicalguy

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Not to drift too far, but this flight training warbird thing has me thinking the big players are just trying to push everyone else out of aviation altogether. One hopes the Biden FAA will adopt a more reasonable interpretation, but it is probably not too early for us all to be writing letters to congressmen/women about it to get some watertight language put into the regs.
 
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