AN UNEXPECTED RESPONSE
Acknowledgements: Thomas P. Turner (Mastery Flight Training Inc.)
From an NTSB preliminary report published last week:
“According to the flight instructor, the student was practicing single-engine approaches …with a simulated engine out of the left engine. The airplane was low on the approach, and the student was instructed to add power to the right. The student advanced the throttle for the right engine, but there was no increase in power/thrust. The flight instructor told the student to push both throttles full forward and make a go-around. The right engine returned to full power; however, the left engine failed to produce any thrust. The airplane entered a VMC (minimum control speed) roll condition toward the critical engine (left), and impacted terrain”.
We all train on normal, abnormal (unusual) and emergency procedures, to the extent they can be safely presented in an airplane. There are specific emergency operations that we must demonstrate to proficiency in order to pass Practical Tests for the various pilot certificates and ratings. We need to continue to review and practice emergency procedures regularly to retain the skills we demonstrate on check-rides, in case we ever need to perform them for real.
When practicing emergencies, we are by definition adding risk. We do things we rarely do or have never done before. We fly with less than the full complement of equipment. We deliberately create distractions, then test our ability to overcome them. We venture into the far corners of our accustomed flight envelope and nibble on the edge of controllability.
The added risk exists, in part, because practicing emergency procedures has the potential to turn into a real emergency condition if the airplane, engine, or other component reacts to our actions (or improper actions, or inactions) with an unexpected response.
In the case of our twin-engine example, a simulated emergency (single-engine approach) turned into a delayed response to power application, which was then followed by a real-world VMC loss of control. Now, there’s a response for that VMC roll - because that’s an emergency procedure, one we are required to demonstrate on the multiengine rating Practical Test. Happily, the pilot and instructor at least partially corrected for the loss of control; although the airplane’s left wing impacted and suffered substantial damage, the two in the airplane survived to tell about it.
Whether you’re the instructor or the Pilot Receiving Instruction (PRI), as you set up to practice an emergency procedure, be thinking about what might happen, how the airplane may unexpectedly respond…and what you’ll do about it.
The only thing more hazardous than training on emergency procedures…is not training on them at all. So keep practicing. And keep your eyes open.