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Almost Experienced Engine Failure Yesterday.  
User currently offlineJBirdAV8r From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 4488 posts, RR: 21
Posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3022 times:

Well folks...had my first harrowing experience last night.

I was flying back from a little Christmas shopping in Georgia to my home in east Tennessee in the good ol' 182. A few weeks prior (over Thanksgiving break) I was getting ready to take some friends flying in it. As I always do, I checked the oil prior to flight...saw it was reading pretty low (it's an IO-470 and just above 6qt) and unusually dark. I cancelled the flight and called the mechanic to take a look at the oil system.

A few days later I found out that the mechanic checked it out, said oil was a "little" low but "they added some" and that nothing else was wrong with it, and I was probably just being paranoid. They said the oil didn't appear to need changing. Great, I thought (sarcasm).

So now Christmas break arrives and it's time to fly again. Hour trip each way. Hasn't been flown but once since that whole debacle. Checked the oil level and it was still dark, but satisfactory. On run-up I noticed that the prop seemed to be a little more sluggish than normal (VERY small difference though)...I attributed this to the cold (sub-freezing) temperatures. Everything else was right on the money. Uneventful trip both ways...EGT, CHT, oil press & temp right on their nominal values...until I got back on the ground at TRI. I shut down the engine and as usual the prop stopped at the 12-6 o'clock position. I tried to click over the engine with the starter to move the prop for the line guys but it wouldn't turn past one cylinder per "blast" I gave the starter. Uh-oh, I thought to myself. I decided to call the mechanics in the morning as it was dark and they'd left for the day already.

Something evidently possessed them to check the plane out again today(before I even called them)...and this time the diagnosis was much more dire. Apparently they pulled a HANDFUL of metal shavings out of the oil system; someone told me that they bet I only had about five minutes flying time left before the engine started to self-destruct. That could have been REALLY bad...I was flying very close to the mountains, at night. I feel like I might not be here today talking to you had something gone wrong. Now the entire underside of the engine will probably have to be replaced.

I can't help but feel guilty and mad. I feel like I should have followed my own paranoia and not flown, but instead I relied on an A&P I have always trusted (still do); after all, he does have over 30 years' experience. I just can't help but feel like it was all my fault.


I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
23 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineKay From France, joined Mar 2002, 1884 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2976 times:

In these cases it is always the fault of the mechanic who checked it and said it was ok.

I once was flying over water within more than 1 hour of reach to any land, when the temperature needle blasted through to the other side of the red. Yeah you do feel like you might not be around for long at moments like these. I applied full mixture, stopped climbing, but the needle stayed there and even climbed some more! After about 1 hour when I reached land, the needle started descending back. Nothing happened and I landed safely. They checked EVERYTHING in the plane, took it to Vx in the noon heat, but simply COULDN'T DUPLICATE THE PROBLEM. Freaky.


User currently offlinePositive rate From Australia, joined Sep 2001, 2143 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 2914 times:

I remember once on my first training area solo flight in the PA-28 just after i took off and switched the fuel boost pump off the fuel pressure gauge needle started to fall and fall. It went nearly all the way to zero. I immediately switched on the boost pump and the needle climbed back up to normal again. I proceeded normally with the flight but left the boost pump on the whole time. After an hour or so i came back in and landed. After landing i turned the fuel pump off and the fuel pressure was fine- no problem with the fuel pump at all. This was the plane i always flew and i never encountered that problem before or after that event, really freaked me out though!

User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2879 times:

Jon...
In the past, I've mentioned the fact that there are many things that I used to do without thinking twice and IFR and night x-c flying in single-engine airplanes are at the top of that list. The problem is that flying is VERY safe and engines, vacuum systems, and electrical systems hardly ever fail any more. But, as you found out, they still can (and do) fail. The final outcome of an engine failure at night, over the mountains, is purely a function of luck - I only know of one emergency procedure that covers that situation...

If your engine fails at night, simply turn on your landing light just prior to impact - if you don't like what you see, turn it off.

I've been accused of being paranoid when it comes to night and IFR flying in single-engine airplanes and they're probably right. It's not necessarily the single engine that bothers me so much as the single alternator, single vacuum pump, single this and single that. I know that you can get singles with most if not all of the "whistles and bells", but even then, you still have only one engine and if that ever decides to pack it in for the evening, you're screwed.

There was one thing that I did back when I was flying a lot of night x-c and IFR in single-engine airplanes - we did spectroscopic oil analysis on a regular basis. This helped, but it's not a real answer.

I'll get off of my soapbox, but not for another minute or two. You're a CFI, and I've talked, in several previous posts on other threads, about the difference between 500 hours of experience and one hour of experience repeated 500 times. If also talked about the need for pilots to "go around the block" a time or two before they're marketable. This experience, hopefully, will help you get part way around the block. There is a big lesson to be learned here - it's called complacency and it happens to be one of, if not the biggest, killers in aviation. As your career develops, you will likely have several more of these episodes. Learn from them. Remember, no one knows it all - not even Skipper or any of the other experienced guys that hang out around here. We all have a more lot to learn. The issue is one of depth, not breadth, of knowledge. Low-time pilots have a broad range of knowledge, it just doesn't run very deep. That's what experience does - deepens your knowledge and understanding.

OK, I'll get off of the soapbox. Merry Christmas.

Jetguy


User currently offlineSlamclick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 4, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2869 times:

A bullet dodged should carry a lesson learned. It is for you to find.

Many here might criticize you. Years ago I "invented" a new procedure to dump an airplane lav and wound up wearing biffy juice. My boss came running over to chew me out for the non-standard procedure. I held my hands up to stop him and asked: "What can you possibly add to this?" You are the one who gets to think about the near-disaster. I believe that you will learn some good lessons from it.

Welcome to the club.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 2844 times:

In these cases it is always the fault of the mechanic who checked it and said it was ok.

And from what part of your anatomy did your draw that little kernel of wisdom? I can hardly count the number of times I have had a pilot come in with some mysterious problem where he just didn't "feel" like things were right. As a professional, I take everything I hear from a flight crew seriously. However, I must also say that in no less than 30% of these cases, the fault can be attributed to something the pilot is doing that is incorrect. I have signed off MANY gripes as "operationally checked in accordance with procedure "x" as listed in the the AFM/POH with no defects noted."

It is amazing how many pilots, especially you GA guys, deviate from prescribed procedures and then bitch when things don't work like they ought to.

You have NO WAY of knowing if the metal shavings were a result of the oil level being low or not. You (KAY) have no way of knowing if some action that the pilot took led to the engine troubles. I have changed 3 engines because the pilot ran the mixture too lean and burned the pistons. In each of those cases, we were lucky enough to have an arm chair expert just like you, Kay, standing by to tell us exactly what the mechanic did wrong to cause the problem.

I'm not saying that maintenance is blameless. However, maintenance errors account for less than 5 % of GA accidents, according to a study done by AOPA:

Top Causes of General Aviation Fatal Accidents:

1. Maneuvering/Low level flight: 21.3%


2. Cruise -- Weather: 20.8%

As you would expect, this is mostly intiating or continuing VFR flight into
IMC, and scud-running, although surprisingly both non-instrument and
instrument rated pilots get into trouble here.

3. Other/Undetermined: 11.1%

Fatalities here are mostly in the "disappeared in flight" and "crashed for
unknown reasons" categories, though unexplained power losses are also
factors (61 of 335 other-cause fatal accidents). There are some gruesome
fatalities here, e.g., "passenger inadvertently opened door, fell out of
aircraft", "ground handler caught in banner during pickup", and "other
personnel walked into spinning propellor".

4. Takeoff/Initial climb: 9.3%

Similar factors involved as in accidents in general, but the main cause of
fatal accidents is failure to maintain flying speed.

5. Approach -- VFR: 6.0%

The main factors here are failure to maintain speed, hitting
object/terrain, steep turns, and midairs at uncontrolled fields.

The next five are: 6th, Approach -- IFR, 5.8%; 7th, Cruise -- Other, 5.1%;
8th, Climb, 3.2%; 9th, Cruise -- Fuel starvation/exhaustion, 3.1%; 10th, Go
around/Missed approach, 2.5%. Identified engine problems are 12th at 2.2%.
Lumping known and unknown engine problems together gives 128 fatal accidents,
or 4.2%, making it 8th and moving "other" to 4th. But again, this is probably
not fair since many of the undetermined causes could be pilot error.


Don't be so quick to blame the mechanic, mr. arrogant pilot man. You don't have enough information to make that determination.


User currently offlineJBirdAV8r From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 4488 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 2767 times:

Apathoid,

The reason I posted that was to have sort of a "Don't be idiotic like me" discussion on the board...I promise I have nothing against any A&P who signed off on my aircraft. I have nothing but respect for those guys, as the work they do saves my bacon every time I fly. Maybe I should write a "Never Again" column for AOPA Pilot about this incident  Smile/happy/getting dizzy No offense meant to you at all.

I suppose in retrospect I should have demanded a second in-depth opinion on the oil situation. I've been told that oil discoloration is not a reliable indicator of the presence of metal, but the engine really wasn't due for an oil change yet--and that should have been my first indication of a problem.

I also should have listened to my gut when doing the engine run-up and turned around and not flown. Once again, hindsight is (unfortunately) 20/20...so at least I'll know better for next time.

I place blame for this event solely on myself. While it is true that I had at least five different people tell me that the airplane was OK, I was the only one acting as Pilot in Command. It was MY ultimate responsibility to ensure the airplane was safe, which it was not; because of that, I could have killed myself...or worse, an innocent bystander.

I know a lot of people who, sadly, would shrug it off and not think twice about it, but not me. I try my hardest to be a very meticulous aviator...everything has to be "just so" generally with me. I've disappointed several people and paid several hundred dollars' worth of hotel stays because of this, but to me, safety's worth it. I've asked the mechanics so many questions that some of them start grinning and laughing at me when I walk up. I think that being scared of "crying Wolf" contributed to it as well.

When doing CFI training, my flight instructor gave me probably the most worthless piece of advice I've ever gotten: "Never admit your mistakes." I find that experience is a great teacher (to myself and everyone else)...so I thought I'd share this story in here. I have no shame in admitting my mistakes.

My apologies if I stirred up any emotions in anyone...it was totally unintentional.

Jetguy, thanks for the comments. That's what everyone's been telling me...it's just one of those hair-raising experiences that we all get that ends up making us better. Complacency kills...and it just about got me the other day. I almost felt immune to it...well, I'm not, folks.

So, the moral of my story:
Be careful up there (and down here too), ladies and gents  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Now, back to get on the horse!!
Best regards,
JBirdAV8r



I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1644 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 2752 times:

I'll have to second Jetguy's post about single engine x-c at night and in IMC. I, also, used to do this without thinking much about it; not any more. It is not just the engine that can make things interesting but the alternator and vaccuum system, too. I once had a total alternator failure, at night, in the traffic pattern and didn't have enough juice to call ground after turn off. It made me think and I swore off single engine x-c at night and in IMC.

User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 2742 times:

Jbird, my response was not directed at you. I apologize for not making that distinction.

I was responding to the moron who so cleverly decided that circumstances like these are "always" the mechanics fault.

I'm glad things worked out okay for you.

I'm tired of dealing with pricks like him...him being Kay, not you...

Merry Christmas...


User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 2726 times:

I mostly agree with Apathoid, but I do have to hold back a little bit. One of my aviation mentors, a retired Delta captain, told me early on in my career that some of the most dangerous flying you'll ever do is picking up brand-new airplanes from the factory and flying the initial flights as aircraft come out of maintenance. He said that when it came to new airplanes and initial flights after maintenance - it's not a matter of if you're going to have a problem, but rather when.

You guys can take this as gospel; this captain knew what he was talking about. He was on the airline's new aircraft acceptance team and had the opportunity of making many acceptance flights when the airline took delivery of new aircraft and he also flew many of the post-maintenance test flights. Personally, of my five "total" engine failures (and a couple of other "partial" power loss situations) all but one - in a piston-powered Mooney M20C - involved either new aircraft, initial flights on factory remanufactured engines, or service center maintenance screwups - in other words, aircraft and / or engines that had fresh maintenance. (The crankshaft in the 180 hp Lycoming in the Mooney just decided that it had had enough and broke. Fortunately it was just after takeoff from a 9,700' runway and I was able to put it back on the ground safely.)

I guess the point that I'm trying to reenforce here is to not let yourselves become complacent. After all, you can't have serious problems with new airplanes, new engines, or with airplanes that are just out of maintenance? Yeah, right. We (pilots & mechanics) all can (and do) make mistakes.

Ya all be careful out there ya hear.

Jetguy


User currently offlineApathoid From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 2718 times:

I agree whole heartedly Jetguy. In fact, I was the guy at our airline who championed an amendment to our "Flight Risk Assessment" to include an elevated risk number for aircraft that were fresh out of maintenance. If the mechanic was under the hood, do an extra good preflight for sure. Two sets of eyes never hurt anything and only enhance safety.

That being said, I would hope you agree that the moronic and uninformed statement that our friend kay spurted out does no one any good at all. Guys with that kind of "my shit never stinks" arrogance have done more to hurt our industry than anything else I can think of. His kind go way back to the days of the "Captain is god" syndrome we have worked so many years to get rid of.



User currently offlineSkyguy11 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 2702 times:

JBirdAV8r... you said the flight was uneventful both ways; just curious if you had any indication towards the end of the last leg?

I've had an engine quit on me completely after rollout while still on the runway... kinda freaky, but like your flight everything was normal; it ran fine afterwards, believe it was vapor lock. Also had an emg landing due to a cracked cylinder and lost comm in IMC :/

Just to play devil's advocate... let's say you do lose your electrical system in IMC at night. You could dead reckon your way to VMC using times and headings... but that assumes you didn't launch into 200' ceilings 1000nm in every direction. A lot of pilots fly with cell phones handy, you could possibly call ATC. Of course you could still lose your only engine too, and that would also mean a loss of the AI and DG in many singles.


User currently offlineSkymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 2607 times:

There is a big lesson to be learned here - it's called complacency and it happens to be one of, if not the biggest, killers in aviation.

I don't see complacency in what JBirdAV8r did. Every time any of us flies, we conciously and subconciously make a risk assessment - whatever anyone claims, I do not believe flying single engined airplanes is totally risk free, and we have to use our judgement and experience to make an assessment of the risk to the best of our current abilities. The risk assessment that takes place prior to any flight includes all manner of things - weather, servicability of specific kit on the airplane, general "feel" of the airplane which might be within spec but might not be quite right, our own health, etc, etc. On occasion and when we're unsure, we hopefully use the greater experience of others to balance or add to our own risk assessment, whether those others be more experienced pilots, certified flight instructors, even maintenance engineers. What I see here is JBirdAV8r assessing the risks prior to the flight he made, and using the best knowledge available to himself at the time to make a decision to go - it seems like he felt it was the right decision for him, at the time. Of course, hindsight is a wonderful thing and after such situations most valuable to me is the learning experience. Hopefully, after any "incident", we acknowledge what we've learned from the experience and include and use that knowledge in our risk assessment prior to our next flight.

Andy


User currently offlineKay From France, joined Mar 2002, 1884 posts, RR: 3
Reply 13, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 2591 times:

Apathoid,

"I'm tired of dealing with pricks like him...him being Kay, not you..."
"In each of those cases, we were lucky enough to have an arm chair expert just like you, Kay, standing by to tell us exactly what the mechanic did wrong to cause the problem."
"That being said, I would hope you agree that the moronic and uninformed statement that our friend kay spurted out does no one any good at all. Guys with that kind of "my shit never stinks" arrogance have done more to hurt our industry than anything else I can think of. His kind go way back to the days of the "Captain is god" syndrome we have worked so many years to get rid of."
"It is amazing how many pilots, especially you GA guys, deviate from prescribed procedures and then bitch when things don't work like they ought to.
"You (KAY) have no way of knowing if some action that the pilot took led to the engine troubles"
"I was responding to the moron who so cleverly decided that circumstances like these are "always" the mechanics fault."


LOL!!!!!!!

If it is "so amazing how many pilots deviate from procedures and then bitch", and you're "tired of dealing with pricks like him", and if "In each of those cases, you were lucky enough to have an arm chair expert like Kay, blabla", then why don't you change jobs?

It's either you or the hundreds of pilots that give you what I gave you. Venting out on internet forums to strangers won't help. Can't express it in their face? With your lack of civility, I can understand that.

However, when I take-off in a plane that just endured an engine replacement and it suddenly overheats, it is Y.O.U.R fault. You spent a whole lot of pixel characters for nothing. But don't worry, you lost my respect a long time ago, when I wasn't a member and used to be amazed by the tone and wording of your responses.
People that are so frustrated shouldn't be given jobs with key responsibilities. But you probably paid the price of that one and know it well in your 30 years of suffering.
Peace, man. Peace. I could've died out there.


Merry Christmas to all!!!
kay


User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 2557 times:

Andy...
I wasn't implying that Jon was directly guilty of complacency and I mostly agree with your assessment of the situation. I wonder what I would have done in the same situation? I would hope that I would have had a few other safeguards in place that would have kept me from considering the flight - personal stuff like limitations on single-engine IFR and single-engine night x-c flight, especially over mountainous terrain, and an oil sampling program. I've said it many times before, what is legal isn't always safe. Any accident is comprised of a chain of events, any one of which, if avoided, could have been prevented the accident from occurring. It's kind of like the old saying, "For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for the want of a horse, the rider was lost..." Jon was fortunate - he was able to break the accident chain. Hopefully, this experience will help him put in place some "personal safeguards" that will allow him to recognize potential traps and, better yet, establish personal procedures which will keep him from having to make those "last minute" decisions, under pressure to make a flight. That's when people get hurt in airplanes.

Jetguy


User currently offlineFutureualpilot From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2602 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 2426 times:

I know my 80hrs.(approx.) of flight time dont compare to the hundreds or thousands of hours some of our pilots on a.net have, but I have been told time and again and firmly believe:

you are ALWAYS a student in the cockpit

(haha this coming from a student pilot a day away from his ppl checkride...sorry)

Jetguy, great input, I always enjoy learning from a fellow pilot, especially those who have been, as you so eloquently put it: "around the block"



Life is better when you surf.
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 2420 times:

JBird,

Just read your story, it sent shivers down my spine; I had darned near the SAME thing happen to me. Except it was in a PA-12, and would have quit either on the beach or over swamp.

My first sign something was wrong was the oil temp. It was still in the green, but was running 20 degrees hotter than normal. When I landed the FRESH oil (less than 10 hours on it) was black as coal, and smelled burt. And I had consumed 2 quarts in 5 hours. I brought these concerns to my boss/shop manager. I was brushed off with "is it still in the green? Oil is less than 1 qt/hour?" And "they all get dirty quickly". I was inexperienced at the time, and easily intimidated; he'd been doing this for 59 years, I had been towing banners for 1 1/2 months.

Of course, I mentioned that the oil had NEVER gotten that dirty that fast, and had run much cooler when it was a lot hotter out, and the oil consumption had increased by 200% in a day. These seemed to me to be warning signs that a Very Bad Thing was about to happen. To placate me, the did a compression test: cyls 1-3 were 80/80, #4 was 70/80. All within tolerance. But 3 weeks a go they were ALL 80/80. Everything in MY mind was screaming "SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT. IT IS TEARING ITSELF APART" But every experienced mechanic and pilot I told about it told me the same thing "don't worry, it's all within tolerance. Stop being a baby and fly"

This went on for 3 weeks. I had more and more warnings, the oil pressure bypass stuck open, so I would get normal pressure at cruise, but I would lose almost all of it when the power was pulled back. Again "don't worry- see, it's working FINE now"

Finally, something DID let go. While under tow I started losing power. The engine was running real rough, and she was backfiring something fierce. I thought I finally blew the jug. I was finally able to get some power back when I leaned the mixture a bit and gave it more throttle. I was able to nurse it home, when it started doing it again after I dropped my banner.

I pulled her into the hanger, pulled the plugs and the ones on #4 were soaked in oil. The next day they pulled the oil screen- it was FILLED with aluminum shavings. I mean FILLED. We drained the oil- you could SEE the metal flakes in it. Pulled the oil pan off, where we found the remains of one piston ring and bits of a piston pin. The pin had been rubbing against the cylinder wall, and wore a groove in the jug. Some how the oil ring had also come apart, this was probibly why my plugs fouled out.

I learned my lesson. Be skeptical. I may not be a professional mecahnic, but I have turned a few wrenches in my day. I have a passible knowlage of what is right and what isn't. There were all kinds of signs telling me that something was NOT right. I let people who's asses weren't on the line tell me not to worry about it, and it almost cost them an airplane, and me an NTSB report. Listen to your gut, and remember there are things other than gauges that will tell you if something's not right.

Glad it turned out ok for you.

And please, I'm not dissing all mechanics. This was more of a situation where the management wasn't taking the pilot seriously because we were just kids that didn't know any better and he had been doing this a lot longer than our parents had been around. After that, I began to take a more proactive role in the maintinace of my plane. It wasn't "can we fix this?" it was "this needs to get fixed, NOW" or, more often than not, I'd just fix it myself.




Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineBrons2 From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3007 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 2410 times:

There was one thing that I did back when I was flying a lot of night x-c and IFR in single-engine airplanes - we did spectroscopic oil analysis on a regular basis. This helped, but it's not a real answer.

I would have thought that all plane owners would do this. I do it on my car!! Helps me to see how my engine is wearing. I have a friend who caught a small head gasket leak this way and made Ford fix it, it was almost out of warranty at that point, it would have been a 1200 repair bill if he had not caught it. In a plane it could mean the difference between life and death! It only costs $35 for me to do it, and the guy that does it for me (Terry Dyson of Dyson Analysis) used to fly commercial airliners, so I'm sure he would do plane oil as well (not that I have asked him that).



Firings, if well done, are good for employee morale.
User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6202 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2402 times:

I know I sometimes come across as paranoid; "whining" about every little problem with the airplane. I love to fly, but it's important to respect because it is something that can kill you, so I guess I exhibit a certain "fear" when I fly (I believe this is a healthy fear). Anyway, it's the pilot's a$$ that's on the line, so it's important to be totally satisfied that you have a capable airplane. I know this is difficult, especially for me at only 500 hours, that when someone with decades of experience is telling me everything is okay. Anyway, I'm glad you're safe.


Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineJetguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 2375 times:

Someone once explained the difference between fear and apprehension - fear is debilitating, apprehension keeps you on your toes. Are those good definitions? Maybe yes, maybe no; but regardless, they do point out a characteristic that I feel is very desirable in an airman. For the sake of discussion, let's say the the definitions are correct. A little apprehension in a pilot would be a good thing, it would keep you on your toes. That is one of the best ways I know of to deal with complacency.

Jetguy


User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5047 posts, RR: 15
Reply 20, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 2345 times:

Ok, so getting back to the original situation: engine failure at night over mountains. What do you do? do you have any chance of surviving that?

Suppose you are flying along during the daylight and have an engine failure. Is a single-engine prop good at gliding?

Just curious about these things. One could gather from these scenerios that flying single engine planes is quite dangerous even for someone with a pilot license or that these planes arent too reliable.

bruce



Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlineIllini_152 From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 1000 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 2311 times:

Quite the contrary- flying a single engine aircraft is quite safe. There are just a few limitations that increase the risk factors.

Most light singles glide fairly well, and engine failures, while rare, are something we all train for extensivly and practice routinely (hopefully). You run into complications though over rough terrain or conjested areas.

If you lose your engine in the midwest, chances are there's a bean field nearby that you can land in and walk away from without seriously damaging your airplane. You get into mountinous or forested areas though, and while possible to make a sucessful engine out landing, you will definatly do some damage.

At night though, it's much harder to see (duh) and more difficult to avoid things like ridge lines, cliffs, rivers and large trees. And, often times in these remote areas, other things come into play- you may surrvive the accident, but if you're injured, help most likely won't be able to get to you until morning, if you're lucky. In some more remote areas, they may not find you at all. These are all things that a pilot has to think of (hopefully) before making a flight.

As far as reliability, aircraft engines are very reliable, your average private pilot will probibly never see a purely mechanical failure causing him to lose all power (now things like running out of gas, that's another matter). But, like any other mechanical device, they can and do break. I don't think anyone knows what the failure rate is exactly, as not all have to be reported, but I think 1 every 10,000-20,000 hours seems about right, given anecdotal evidence I've seen, and from what others have told me. This rate would vary based on the equipment, maintinance, and use however.

I think that covers most of it, being a flatlander myself, I have not had to think of these things much, maybe some more experienced pilots from mountian states can fill in some more.

--
Mike

Edit:

I think I should clarify my first sentence. Flying a private piston aircraft is roughly as safe as riding a motorcycle. The differance is, when you ride, your biggest risk factors are the other nimrods in their cars trying to run you over. In an airplane, most of the risks can be mitigated by the pilot; most accidents are due to pilot error.

[Edited 2003-12-27 03:06:49]


Happy contrails - I support B747Skipper and Jetguy
User currently offlineBruce From United States of America, joined May 1999, 5047 posts, RR: 15
Reply 22, posted (10 years 7 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 2221 times:

I had a chance ONCE to fly as a passenger with a friend of the family who was a pilot (private, member of AOPA) and i think he had a Cessna - this was 20 years ago. I wasn't scared at all. And I remember he was showing me what he did before each flight and it was like he went over every single part of the plane including the oil and gas.

But all the images of single engine crashes on the news are what stick in my head. In fact last week I even watched (and photographed) as a Piper broke its landing gear in an emergency landing.

bruce



Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3148 posts, RR: 11
Reply 23, posted (10 years 7 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2087 times:

I've had a couple near-scarry events. Both times it was just electrical things. I had an oil pressure guage drop to zero once, I was about five miles away from the airport, did a 180 and declared an emergency. It was just a wire that had come off the sensor. I read something that really made sense a couple weeks ago, always be thinking of what you would do when something bad happens right now. Our PA-44s have been having a bad habit of bending rods. On a runup a few months ago the Oil pressure guage on the left engine was doing funny stuff on the runup. We taxied back and wrote it up. Sure enough, bent rod. Had I not noticed we could have had a very bad situation shortly after takeoff because seminoles don't climb on one engine in 85 degree weather.

Having said that, I see no problems with flying a single at night in IMC. Of course, I also recognize that there are varying levels of cloud cover and the conditions would dictate a go or no go. If the overcast was a couple thousand feet up and I would break out, then sure. Then again, I wouldn't go during the day if I couldn't get back into the airport I'm taking off from. I always leave myself an out. There is no point to taking a big chance when you can come back and do it tomorrow. Discretion is a good thing.



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