Acknowledgements: FLYER Magazine (Joe Fournier)

“Training need not be perfectly realistic in order to accomplish the learning objectives”

Consider the following true example of a training flight in a C172 at Bardstown, Kentucky


Whilst returning to base at the close of the lesson, within gliding distance to the airfield and at about 2,500 ft. above ground, the instructor turned the fuel selector to “OFF” so that the student could practice engine failure procedures. The student trimmed for best glide speed, initiated a turn towards the airfield, and consulted the POH procedure for restarting the engine.

As the student was unable to restart the engine, the instructor resumed control but was also unsuccessful with a re-start attempt. Estimating that the risk involved in trying to reach the airfield was too great, the instructor therefore selected the best available field and initiated an engine-out forced landing, during which the nose gear impacted the ground substantially damaging the firewall.


The aim was for the student to practise procedural response to an engine failure, which can be realistically simulated simply be retarding the throttle and thereby keeping the option open for powering up in the event of a problem. So why go any further?

Shutting the fuel selector in a single-engine aircraft in order to induce engine failure is NOT NORMAL PROCEDURE, and goes against conventional wisdom.


Whilst we all want our training to be as realistic as possible, there can definitely be too much of a good thing. 

Why should anyone, student or instructor, consider themselves so different as to be able to manage risks that everyone else is avoiding?

Tony BirthComment