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Forced Landings - The distillation of our knowledge.


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If you were writing a lesson plan to teach an ab initio student how to perform a successful forced landing, what are the items you would include in the theory portion?

 

Let's start with PART 1 - Forced Landings from Cruise. Once we've got this one tied down we can go onto PART 2 - Forced Landings within the circuit.

 

So, what have you got for PART 1?

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You've picked about  the hardest one there is . Some just make some basic rules  of mainly don'ts. . as "a  Bad idea'" rather than a hard and fast "never do". The on take off situation should be briefed even if just  to oneself.. Nev

Edited by facthunter
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A forced landing from cruise starts differently from a forced landing from low level.

I would treat it as an engine failure, if it is an engine problem. Of course if you have some other malfunction which requires you to land ASAP it is a forced landing, but I am assuming here that was not your aim.

First thing is to find out what has gone wrong and usually you will have info on that in the POH. I wrote my own POH and it goes along the lines of:-

Check fuel on. Of course it is on, you were cruising.

Pitch for best glide speed. Start a turn towards best country for forced landing, if you can see where to go, but the following take precedence.

Activate fuel boost pump.

Apply carb heat.

Change tanks, but I only have one.

Switch mags or if electronic ign. do whatever is recommended.

Check gauges.

If you still have no engine, pick a location to land, bearing in mind wind direction. At height you may not be able to check slope, but try to pick an uphill site. Work yourself into a suitable position to land using the correct approach speed and flaps if necessary, probably better to slip to lose height if necesary and leave flaps for when you are absolutely certain that you will arrive at your aim point.

Don't be fooled if the engine suddenly roars into life, it could well stop again, so sudden noise at 200'  may lure you into an attempted go round.

Before arrival, snug up your harness, fuel off, electrics off and stroke your lucky rabbits foot. I doubt it will be any luckier for you than it was for the rabbit.

I have done this little write up with no reference to paperwork or other cribs, so it is as it would happen in the air, so I expect it to get picked to pieces and improved upon.

A couple of my forced landings were not full engine failures and they could possibly be considered harder to handle. The options are greater. One was a cylinder head gasket blowing on a Jab 1600 engine, when I had decide to do a go around. The other was on the same engine when the rocker cover stud pulled out the head and dumped oil on the exhaust. I disappeared in a cloud of smoke on crosswind and completed the circuit, after I had diagnosed what the problem was.

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I would add - STAY CALM - easy to say but vital for a good outcome.

 

Then as per Yenn however he did not mention the use of a CHECK LIST - again vital for a good outcome. Most of us are lesser mortals and do not carry all the necessary points in our head and even if we did, memory, especially under pressure/stress, is extremely unreliable - always have within easy access your check lists

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The most useful thing I have learned in recent years is that if you hold your arm at full stretch and and hold your hand up at the horizon, the thickness of four fingers below the horizon shows where you can glide to. It works for a surprising range of aircrafty types and speeds, from LSA to military jets.

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Go to a quality flight school and take note of what they do.

A lesson plan formulated from an internet forum - what could go wrong?

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26 minutes ago, pmccarthy said:

The most useful thing I have learned in recent years is that if you hold your arm at full stretch and and hold your hand up at the horizon, the thickness of four fingers below the horizon shows where you can glide to. It works for a surprising range of aircrafty types and speeds, from LSA to military jets.

Ahhhh! This rule of fingers, does it work for gliders?

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There is only one thing that really matters,  do not stall the aircraft. Stall spin is nearly always fatal. Engine failure is a big distraction and it seems pilots sometimes forget the basics, fly the aircraft. Forced landings under control have a 95% survival rate in GA aircraft despite having a much higher stall/landing speed than our recreational types.

 

My engine failure check list,

 

Airspeed

Change tanks, fuel pump on

Airspeed

Carb heat on

Airspeed

Turn towards best landing area,  consider wind direction.

Airspeed 

Check ignition left right, different throttle positions

Airspeed,  Airspeed and land the aircraft.

 

Airspeed is life.

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Just now, skippydiesel said:

Ahhhh! This rule of fingers, does it work for gliders?

I am sure it would, maybe one or two fingers, for a Thruster use both hands.

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1 hour ago, RossK said:

Go to a quality flight school and take note of what they do.

A lesson plan formulated from an internet forum - what could go wrong?

I would invite you to post the content of a flying school's lesson notes for this exercise and we can see how far off mark the lesson plan formulated from this internet forum can be. Don't forget that contributors to this forum are either CASA or RAAus approved instructors, or are pilots with a great deal of experience. The flying school's lesson plan is based on the same experience.

 

3 hours ago, Yenn said:

I am assuming here that was not your aim.

The aim is how to get on the ground safely if you have to from cruise altitude.  You are probably correct in saying that a lack of noise from the propellor spinning thingo is likely to be the most common reason for getting back on the ground toot sweet.

 

3 hours ago, Yenn said:

so I expect it to get picked to pieces and improved upon.

Let's hope that no punctilious pedant starts picking away at what people are contributing. I would say that the "improved upon" really means expanded upon.

 

1 hour ago, Thruster88 said:

consider wind direction.

This is interesting. Remember we have been cruising from K to M, not simply flogging around the training area. Didn't we get a weather report and from that create a flight plan that gave us the heading, and groundspeed were were expecting to make good? Therefore, if the noise stops when we are somewhere between L and M, we've only got to look at out flight plan to get an approximate (within 20 degrees or so) wind direction. 

 

1 hour ago, pmccarthy said:

the thickness of four fingers below the horizon shows where you can glide to.

Or put another way, how high above terra firma are you when the noise stops? Don't forget that you are cruising on QNH, or height above sea level. Narromine is 782' AMSL, Ballarat 1433', Caloundra 38'. So you can see that if you are cruising at 5500 on QNH, your bum might be closer to the dirt than the altimeter suggests. That's why it's a good idea to know when flight planning what is the LSAlt for about 5 Nm either side of proposed track.

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I teach ABC for an engine failure in a fixed wing...

 

A- Airspeed is your friend... Know and establish best glide speed. Convert Alt to height if you can safely do so (you are converting genetic energy to potential energy). 

 

B- Best possible landing field have a GOOD look is it below you? Is it behind you? what is it and where is it? You should know the wind as you made a not of it every time you noticed it..

 

C- Commit to the landing area you chose - many many people have failed to make a forced landing by selecting a suitable area and changing to that one, then that one, then ohh that one, then ohh thats a better one... Then not making any of them.. 

C- Checks you better know them from heart, better have practiced them BUT first is what did you just do? Undo that!!!! Did you just change tanks? Change it back! Did you just turn off the fuel pump?? Turn it back on... 

 

As far as high key / low key ETC go its awesome to teach a student what the sight picture should be and get them used to what to look for but in reality who is going to think.. Now the ground elevation right here and now is about 1300 feet and the high key is going to be 3300 feet and the low key is going to be 2300 feet... No thats not going to work!!! Use it to teach a sight picture then fly what you see from then on. I like to use is it within a circle of a wingspan radius?? If so i can definitely make it. If not I need to decide if i can.

 

Aim to touch down ½ way along the field then use sideslip to bring the touch down point back when you are definitely going to make it...

 

 

Edited by Jase T
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OME - I was trained/ practise having my  VFR cruise altitude should always be (or at least where feasible) at least 1000 ft above the highest terrain point, when traveling in a virtual 10 mile wide corridor (5 mile each side of track).

 

OzRunway will help with this ,if you dont want to do it manually and it will also give you a vertical separation schematic.

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I used to practise laying parallel lines 5 Nm each side of Planned Track simply because the bloke I flew with had a night rating and that is part of the preparation for a flight at night. I was designated "navigator" on our flights. It is handy for the Day VFR pilot in that it is a quick reference to LSAlt at any point along Planned Track. The parallel lines also can warn you if you are wandering off Planned Track.

 

The point is that you have to be aware of the altitude difference between MSL and the country you are flying over. The average height above MSL for Australia is 330 metres, or about 1100 feet.

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Flying VFR I fail to see why we need to rely so much on the altimeter. I just use eyesight to see if I am high enough or too low. I do use the altimeter in the circuit for cross wind and downwind, because that puts me at the same level as others, but from the time i reduce power prior to landing I hardly look at the altimeter. The ball is much more important.

My arm at full stretch is touching the screen, but I can judge best glide fairly well by how much of the horizon is hidden by the nose. It all depends upon your plane and also how high you sit in the seat.

Probably the most important advice is what Corporal Jones of Dads Army said. "Don't panic"

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Yennn - the human eyesight is a poor thing, compared to many of our fellow animal travelers. We are subject to so many potential visual distortions that can lead us astray - why would you not check out the highest points along your rout, add 1000 ft and fly to the most economical  (ground speed) hemispherical altitude + 500 ft above this (using your altimeter)????

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On 16/01/2021 at 6:23 PM, skippydiesel said:

 why would you not check out the highest points along your rout, add 1000 ft and fly to the most economical  (ground speed) hemispherical altitude + 500 ft above this (using your altimeter)????

Usually weather limited with clouds and terrain. Ruling out those there might be maybe 20 days a year you could fly in perfect weather?

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I don't advocate not studying the charts to find high points, but this forum is about forced landings. Where I fly the difference in a couple of miles horizontally can be 3000', so what use is the altimeter to you, because you are not going to know exactly what your height above ground is from the charts. By the time you have sorted out what the problem is and committed to a forced landing you will need to be using your eyes to find a suitable spot to land.

Your altimeter is only a rough guide and keeping an eye on the ball would be much more effective at producing a good outcome.

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It's likely to be "all new" to what you've ever practiced. You don't usually have a defined aerodrome shape to judge your approach by and you will rarely have much idea of the height you are above the ground you are going to land on. Nev

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My secret is to get an aiming point and make sure it is not going up on the screen, preferably to have it going down, so that I have plenty of height in hand.

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