For pilots safety is always at the forefront of everything that we do. The risk of each flying decision is always assessed; while checklists, flows and standard procedures are the foundation of a safe operation. A flight training environment brings its own set of safety challenges that must always be addressed. At the same time, we should seek to go through training in an efficient but responsible manner. Here is some information about what training responsibly can mean.
Aviate, navigate, communicate… These are often the first three crucial words that come to mind when we think of distracting or emergency situations that may arise when flying. An emergency situation is essentially an instance in which the safety of the aircraft, persons on board or on the ground are endangered for some reason. It is a situation from which it is not possible to continue flight using normal procedures.
Every aircraft type has a unique set of procedures for emergencies. It is very important to thoroughly understand the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) for each airplane you fly, especially the sections detailing emergency procedures. Emergency items in the POH should be committed to memory. Pilots benefit from continually educating themselves on things to do in an emergency and by always learning more about the airplanes they fly. Here is a list of fairly common emergency procedures encountered by general aviation pilots that should be understood.
You never know when you can run into trouble. Always be prepared.
- Emergency Landing procedures help a pilot to use the right technique when preparin an aircraftfor an emergency landing.. These procedures also detail the types of emergency landings (forced, precautionary and ditching) and what to do depending on the type.
- Engine Failure On or After Takeoff procedures prepares a pilot to recognize loss of power during takeoff and to make a decision to abort, land on the remaining runway, land straight ahead or 30 degrees either direction or to attempt a turn back to the runway. It all depends on height above ground, runway length, aircraft type and pilot skill.
- Emergency Descents require a pilot to descend quickly due to a hazardous situation such as an in-flight fire or depressurization. A pilot has to lose altitude quickly while staying in control and troubleshooting the emergency.
- In-Flight Fire is a situation in which a pilot must notice, determine the source of and use what he or she can to extinguish the fire if possible by using the airflow, a fire extinguisher or cutting off fuel to the fire.
- In-Flight Icing can be very hazardous to a small airplane and therefore is usually avoided and if ice is picked up the situation is taken very seriously. Icing emergency procedures prepares a pilot to do what he or she must to leave any icing conditions while staying aware of what ice can do to aerodynamic performance. The pilot may have to fly the aircraft slightly differently when trying to land if ice persists due to decreased airflow over the controls.
- Flight Control Malfunction or Failure procedures show a pilot what can be done to maintain control of an aircraft if the flight controls stop working.
- Systems Malfunctions or Failure can be anything from an alternator failing to the flaps not being able to extend. Procedures for systems failures can be vast depending on the amount and complexity of systems an aircraft has. These procedures help a pilot understand what can be done to troubleshoot, what systems can still be used when others fail and how it affects flight performance.
- Door Opening In-Flight in most airplanes is not a huge issue, nonetheless a pilot must understand how the air passing over the door may affect airflow over the controls. Furthermore, depending on the phase of flight or conditions a door opening in-flight can be more serious. For example, a door opening in IMC and icing conditions.
- Inadvertent VFR Flight Into IMC is often underrated and overlooked. If a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) pilot should find himself or herself inadvertently in IMC (Instrument Meteorlogical Conditions) they should understand the options that are available to them in this type of emergency, options such as turning around, descending or asking ATC for help. However, the pilot should also be aware of terrain in the area and capability of the onboard instrments to assist in maintaining control in IMC.
Each airplane’s emergency procedures are different. Additionally, emergency actions must include notifying air traffic control if possible. ATC can often offer help in emergency situations. Both AOPA and Flight Literacy have more information and short courses on emergency procedures that could prove to be valuable. Comprehensive knowledge on emergency procedures for the airplane that you fly cannot be underestimated. Events happen quickly in airplanes and a pilot must be mentally prepared to do the appropriate action at the right time. Which emergency procedure do you think is the most challenging to learn? Leave a comment below!