Overcoming Adversity in Aviation

Overcoming Adversity in Aviation

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

I walked through the door of my apartment that night to see airplanes everywhere. There were pictures on my walls, models on the counters, and all of my aviation gear stacked neatly on the kitchen table. I had aviation magazines everywhere as I was a loyal subscriber to as many aviation publications as I could find. Aviation was more than just a hobby – it was my passion and my destiny. However, it was the last thing I wanted to see after coming home that night. I was tempted to put it all out of sight, but in the back of my mind I feared I would never bring it out again. I decided that that tonight was not the time to make life-changing decisions.

On January 3, 2012, I suffered a catastrophic nighttime engine failure in a Cessna 172. About 8 miles from the CXO airport at 1600ft, I heard a bang and the engine quit suddenly. The NTSB would eventually find that the rear crankshaft gear dowel pin failed causing the sudden stoppage, but at the time the only thing I could think about was finding a way to survive the event. I made a successful emergency landing on a highway after hitting power lines and swerving to avoid traffic, but my feelings about aviation were far from being settled. As a newly licensed private pilot, I had been flying between the Conroe airport (CXO) and West Houston Airport (IWS) every Tuesday for my evening Civil Air Patrol squadron meetings. I often took N54872, a trusty Cessna 172P that belonged to the Conroe CAP squadron. The squadrons were always looking to get the planes flying, and welcomed my weekly ritual of flying back and forth to the meeting. It was like any other Tuesday – except that night, I didn’t make it home. I wanted to quit – after all, all I had invested was the money and time for a private certificate.

The next days went by slowly. It was a trying time for my strength, courage, and sore body from the accident. Initially there was no evidence of mechanical failure with the engine and I was immediately grounded from CAP while the aviation community spread rumors that I had carb icing. I was not allowed to rent planes due to the impending “pilot error investigation”, and my short-lived pilot reputation sunk to its lowest level. However, one person changed it all for me. As I was pondering whether or not to continue in aviation, a CAP colleague of mine, Russell Peck, convinced me to come flying with him in his Cessna 182 that Saturday.

When I walked up to the plane on Saturday, my legs became weak. It felt as though I stepping out of the wrecked 172 a few days prior. My heart was pounding, but I pushed through all of that and stepped inside the plane. Just putting my seatbelt on made my palms sweaty, but I knew this was something I loved and I trusted the pilot I was with. As we left the ground, I could feel my anxiety leaving and I focused on the flying ahead. We went and had some fun up in the practice area, and I fell in love with aviation all over again, knowing that I couldn’t give up. The following weeks showed a shift in the investigation toward the overhaul shop after they found that improper maintenance was performed. My name was vindicated, and I had outpouring support from the Civil Air Patrol. I had to go up with an instructor again for a few months, and eventually was able to rent on my own again. Eventually the anxiety stopped in the plane and I started to grow in my aviation career.

I know many people (and pilots out there) struggle to get back up after getting knocked down. That night on January 3 wasn’t the first, and it sure wasn’t the last. I have been rejected by people I looked up to in the community, was unsuccessful at obtaining dream jobs, and had experiences that made me question my commitment to the profession. I knew I had found the 999 ways how not to invent the lightbulb, but I also knew that I couldn’t give up. For everyone out there struggling to figure out how to move forward after experiencing a setback, I know how it feels. Finding the courage to continue despite the adversity is something that many seek but do not always find. The strength to get back in that plane came from within, and it’s the same strength that has carried me throughout my career and life. Know that most of the people who are successful in life didn’t get there the easy way, or else they would have taken the path everyone traveled and they would be no different than the rest of the community that looks up to them. In Sarah Dessen’s words, “it’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth.” And getting back in that airplane was worth the adventure and experience of a lifetime.

….and if you get the chance, be that person in someone’s life that keeps them moving toward their dreams!

NTSB Report: https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20120104X92439&key=1

2018 Scholarship Winners Announced!

At FullThrottle Aviation, we believe in investing in the next generation of pilots. For our second year in a row, we have offered scholarships to pilots looking to expand their skillset and continue their journey in aviation. We are proud to announce 4 scholarship recipients this year, two from the Skills Enhancement Scholarship and two from our new Flight Attendant to First Officer scholarship. Click on the pictures below to see the biographies of our winners. Thank you to everyone who applied. We plan to continue to give back in the coming years with more scholarships.

As another way of giving back, we have helped many pilots with their resumes who have sought assistance. If you are looking for your first flying job and need help with your aviation resume, we will be glad to look it over free of charge if you send it to: education@fullthrottleaviationllc.com with the subject line “Resume Review.” This is not to be confused with airline app review services; this is for new pilots seeking their first job in aviation.

Skills Enhancement Scholarship Winners

Matthew May

Manuela Cortes

Flight Attendant to First Officer Scholarship Winners

Sarah Bernal

David Hagen

David Hagen

David Hagen

David is a college graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Aeronautical Studies.  In 1992 he obtained his Single-Engine and Multi-Engine Commercial and Instrument rating. Although his passion was always aviation, it became unattainable due to cost. In order to stay involved in aviation, he became a flight attendant where he has worked for the past 29 years. With the scholarship money from FullThrottle Aviation, he plans to circle back to his original dream of being a pilot and begin training for his CFI and CFII.

Sarah Bernal

sara-bernal.jpg

Sara is a native of Tempe, Arizona. She became a Flight Attendant for Southwest Airlines in February 2015. Sarah began her flight training in August 2017 and is currently working on her Instrument rating and Commercial certificate in Arizona. She is planning to use the scholarship funds to continue toward her Instrument rating and Commercial pilot certificate.

Matthew May

Matthew May

Matthew is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Arkansas. As an overachiever in school, he was named on Chancellor’s List and has been active in the Student Alumni Association, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, and Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.  While earning his degree, he has also been working toward his goal of becoming a professional pilot. He currently holds his commercial pilot certificate and is a CFI. He plans to use the scholarship toward continued flight training in pursuit of his dreams of being a professional pilot.

Manuela Cortes

Manuela Cortes

Manuela is a passionate aviator who recently graduated with honors from Florida Institute of Technology. Throughout her time at Florida Tech, Manuela was an active member of the college community, serving as President of the Women in Aviation Club, VP of the UNICEF Club, and as a Resident Assistant to upperclassmen students. She now holds a Commercial Multi-Engine certificate and is working on her CFI. Ultimately, she hopes to become a professional airline pilot in the near future. She plans to use her scholarship toward obtaining her seaplane rating in Alaska. Manuela says that she would not be where she is today if it weren’t for the endless support of scholarship sponsors like the FullThrottle Aviation scholarship committee who believed in her and gave her the opportunity to pursue her dreams.

Air Tractor Ferry Over the Ocean

Air Tractors are great airplanes, but they are working birds that take a lot of stress from their pilots. Most Air Tractor wings are hour-limited, and many of the airplanes require inspection and service at certain time intervals. The Air Tractor 401B is a special breed. Having originally been manufactured with a radial engine, the 401B’s turbine conversion requires special care. I got a call that Buttercup, the Air Tractor 401B that I had ferried times before, needed to go to Texas for service. When I flew the plane down to Belize a few years back, we had installed a hopper fuel system. It is very beneficial to do this, and gave us a few options for getting it back to Texas. It was actually much cheaper to fly it to Lane Aviation in Houston than it was to have mechanics travel and do the work in Belize, and I was more than up for the mission.

After reviewing the options, I decided our most cost efficient solution was to ferry it directly across the Gulf of Mexico to Houston. Realistically, we could get 350-380 gallons of avgas in the hopper, giving me about 10 hours total of fuel with the wing tanks. With headwinds predicted, it looked like a 7-hour flight to Houston, giving me 3 hours of reserve fuel which was plenty acceptable. Finding a good weather window to take a VFR airplane over any body of water can be challenging. As a backup, I carried my Dynon D-1 backup attitude indicator to mount to the windshield as a backup attitude indicator should I lose visual reference. Although the skies may be clear, the ocean can often create a haze layer that blends the sky to the water.

I was up before first light to get ready. Arley and Carol got up early to have an early Belizean breakfast, and Carol also gave me a sandwich for the journey. I took off out of Spanish Lookout and headed over to MZBZ, Goldson airport in Belize City, to clear customs before heading north. Although the skies were completely clear the entire way, a small patch of fog about 3 miles wide was covering the Goldson airport. After holding for about 30 minutes, I decided to divert to the Belize City municipal airport to wait out the weather. About 30 minutes after I landed, the weather cleared and I made the short 5-minute flight to Belize City to clear customs.

If anyone has cleared customs in Belize, they know what it takes to get approval. There are usually about 5 stamps required to be obtained for any entry or exit, even for Belizean airplanes. I was miraculously able do to this in about 15 minutes, a new record for me. After filing my VFR flight plan, I called the fuel truck over and personally filled up the hopper to the highest point I could get it without it spilling over. I then taxied out and took off on my journey north. I brought a bungee cord to use as my autopilot, which actually worked fairly well. However, there is nothing that can really be done to make an Air Tractor a complete hands off airplane in straight and level flight.

It’s about 200 miles over the Yucatan to the Gulf of Mexico, which gave me plenty of time to get a good handle of my fuel burn and ensure that the hopper fuel system was working. After the first uneventful 2 hours, I coasted out over the blue water on my way north. Forecasts and satellite imagery showed mostly clear over the Gulf, although there were some scattered rain clouds dropping water between 100-200 miles off the cost of Texas. I had a Delorme so that Arley could track me and text me, and we stayed in communication. Although it was the gulf, it was horribly cold. The Air Tractor does not have heat, and cold air around 40-45 degrees F was circulating around the plane. After some time, I could barely feel my feet. I did bring gloves and a jacket, but as soon as I was under an overcast layer it got very cold. I made sure to bring a ski parka for the next one!

As I got about 200 miles off the coast of Houston, I started having communication trouble. Even low level, VHF communication is fairly reliable over the Gulf. I was in communication from about 300 miles to 200 miles, but then things got silent. Then I saw the alternator light come on. Over the water with 2 hours to go, this was not a good feeling. I started texting Arley and pulling out paperwork for the airplane to go over the POH and the Walters STC. The Walters STC’s turbine uses an electronic management system called TSLM for many functions, and I went through the POH to determine what I would lose in the event of a complete alternator failure. As I was looking down, I noticed that the TX button was flashing on the radio. I had a stuck mic that was draining the alternator. I then immediately turned off the radio and the alternator came back on. I was relieved, but then realized that I had a problem with communication. Luckily, I had a handheld radio as a backup. I couldn’t get any of the oceanic sectors with it, but was able to maintain radio contact once coming into the Houston area.

I had filed to Hobby Airport in order to clear customs. When I got close, I found out they were landing on Runway 4, which featured a gusty tailwind. Considering I still had a good amount of fuel in the hopper, I didn’t want to land with a gusty tailwind. Also, I only had about 3 Air Tractor landings in the previous 8 months, so I was careful with what conditions I landed in.  Although I had landed with a load before, it’s really not something I want to be doing with a tailwind in an airplane I didn’t have a lot of recent experience in. I held south of the airport in a holding pattern until they were able to give me 13R, and then I landed uneventfully and cleared customs.

It was a short flight over to Lane Aviation. It had been a very long day, nearly 9 hours of flying. From the day I met the exceptional people at Air Tractor, I wanted to impress them. However, as fate would have it, I have yet to get a good landing in front of them as my audience – in both Air Tractors and my Super Cub! My wheel landing-turned 3 point was safe but humbling, but after 9 hours of flying I should have been proud of myself for even being able to land. The moral of the story is, we all have our off days. As a good friend and ag pilot once said, he has had “bounces in the 802 that you could drive a truck under.” I did redeem myself in front of my audience landing back in Belize when I greased it with a strong crosswind, and they got the good one on video!

After Lane took a look at the wiring, it turns out that there was a short in the wire going from the stick that was causing the stuck mic. A few weeks later, the wing AD was complied with and I flew the plane back to Belize uneventfully over the gulf with no issues. It was a different experience for sure flying an ag plane over the ocean, and something I will be doing again in the near future!

 

Flight Training Scholarships Announced for 2018

In 2018 we are offering two (4) flight training scholarships at $1000 each. The window for applications begins on June 15, 2018 and ends on August 15, 2018. Winners will be announced prior to September 30.

An overview of the programs is below and can also be found on the website under “Scholarship.”

http://www.fullthrottleaviationllc.com/scholarship.html

Scholarship Application Documents:

  • 500 word essay
  • Resume

On June 15, there will be an online form on this page that will allow you to copy and paste your resume and your 500 word essay.

This is the preferred method for submitting your application. If unable to use this feature, please email both the resume and essay to: education@fullthrottlaviationllc.com

After submission, essays and resumes will have the names redacted and current FullThrottle Aviation pilots will vote for the winners.

FullThrottle Aviation Skills Enhancement Flight Training Scholarship

Number of Scholarships: 2

Amount per Scholarship: $1,000

Differences from 2017: The applicant may have a restricted commercial without an instrument rating and may use funds toward an instrument rating. There is also no longer a maximum flight time for this scholarship.

The FullThrottle Aviation Skills Enhancement Flight Training Scholarship is for a commercial pilot who is looking to expand their skill set.

The scholarship can be used for any of the following. Funds will be paid directly to the individual or school offering the training:

  • New rating (such as multi engine, seaplane, or instrument rating)
  • Advanced endorsement (tailwheel or high performance)
  • Checkout in a new type of aircraft (such as a Pitts or Stearman, but not limited to these)

Applicant Requirements:

  • Current commercial pilot (with or without an instrument rating)
  • Current 2nd or 1st class medical

FullThrottle Aviation Flight Attendant to First Officer Scholarship

Number of Scholarships: 2

Amount per Scholarship: $1,000

The FullThrottle Aviation Flight Attendant to First Officer Scholarship is for a current flight attendant with a minimum of a private pilot certificate who is enrolled in flight training toward a commercial flying job.

The scholarship can be used for any of the following. Funds will be paid directly to the school offering the training:

  • Instrument Rating
  • Multi-engine training
  • Flight Instructor Training

Applicant Requirements:

  • Current Flight Attendant for a Part 121 U.S. Domestic Carrier.
  • Minimum of a private pilot certificate.
  • Flight attendant may be on an approved leave of absence for flight training/education, but must be on a current seniority list.
Experience & Judgement: What Prepares a New Pilot for the Airlines?

Experience & Judgement: What Prepares a New Pilot for the Airlines?

Every once in a while, we hear of triumph over an impossible scenario. Well-known accidents such as United Airlines 232 (DC-10 that lost all hydraulics), Air Canada Flight 143 (Gimli Glider), and US Airways 1549 (Miracle on the Hudson) bring light to the fact that a well-trained crew relied on experience outside of their formal training to turn disaster into triumph. Recent discussion regarding the 1500-hour rule has led to opinions and studies that have contradicted themselves while speculating on how to best prepare new airline pilots for their operation.

The simple truth is that we can’t possibly prepare a pilot for every scenario. In fact, even our most advanced simulators cannot exactly replicate the disasters that occurred throughout the course of history that had impossible outcomes. Dual engine failures and loss of all hydraulics are two scenarios that have impossible odds and yet there are instances throughout history where the crew came together and left survivors from un-survivable accidents. There are also many instances throughout history where inexperience was a contributing factor to an accident. So what constitutes experience that will allow a new pilot to become the next Sully or Al Haynes (United 232)?

Regional airline recruiters often say that they look for people with crew experience, while many other pilots say that new pilots should have hand flying experience. The tailwheel community screams tailwheel endorsement, and other parts of the industry scream glass cockpit experience. Some say that the new pilots need to instruct, and other say that they are best served by towing banners. The captain of Air Canada Flight 143, Rob Pearson, relied on his knowledge of flying gliders to safely land the fuel-less Boeing 767 at a closed military airstrip. Although the intention is to create airmanship and judgement, I’m a firm believer that these concepts are trained and then reinforced by experience.

Airline flying is very little about stick and rudder skills, although we can all agree that having stick and rudder skills is an important part of the job. Every once in a while, I hear bragging from airline pilots about disconnecting the automation and doing some amazing stick and rudder maneuvering for a perfect landing. I often joke that I use the automation at work, and then I yank and bank on my days off. I’ve taken ag planes internationally and flown long distances over water with no autopilot in VFR and IFR conditions, and the skillset for that flying is very different than that of airline flying. I’ve greased landings in planes I’ve never flown before in strong crosswinds (especially if nobody is watching) and had some interesting emergencies throughout my travels that truly tested my systems, performance, and weather knowledge. These scenarios have allowed me to solidify my judgement based on experience. It’s unrealistic to think that every new pilot will get that kind of experience prior to going to the airlines.

One thing that many of these landmark triumphs have in common is that the crew worked together efficiently to resolve an impossible issue. I believe that what new pilots need is exceptional training that includes judgement and crew resource management. The simulator can’t re-create a scenario that’s “outside the book” and give crews the surge of adrenaline that’s associated with a real-life emergency. But we can train procedures and judgement that will solidify over time with experience.

The answer to the original question of “will 1500 hours prepare a pilot for a real-life emergency situation?” is still “it depends on the experience.” If pilots receive quality training from the start, then they will learn judgement over time. Seeking a variety of experience is also key to developing skills that will be useful in the cockpit of a jet.  I believe that a diverse experience is helpful, but not necessary. Judgement and training are the most important parts of any type of emergency management; and that is something that is learned from exceptional leaders, instructors, and mentors instead of something discovered while in the traffic pattern in a Cessna 152.

by Sarah Rovner – Master CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP, Owner of FullThrottle Aviation, LLC

Sarah is currently a FAA Safety Team Lead Representative, Master Instructor, Captain and FTD/CTP instructor/evaluator with a Part 121 airline. Since changing careers after years as a senior network engineer for the oil & gas industry, Sarah has obtained her ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI and has flown about 4000 hours. As the owner of an international ferry pilot company, FullThrottle Aviation LLC, Sarah has flown over 115 different types of general aviation airplanes in 15 different countries including oceanic crossings in small aircraft. She continues to stay involved in general aviation through mentoring and education; volunteering at many different events and presenting original seminars on aviation safety and human factors. Although much of her flying is now professional in nature, she still enjoys flying her Super Cub on her days off. As a regular attendee of Oshkosh and local fly-ins, she enjoys the company and camaraderie that general aviation brings.

First Flight as an Airline Captain

First Flight as an Airline Captain

I had never been so excited in my life to receive a call from crew support. The dreaded crew support incoming call has a reputation amongst line pilots of being the bearer of bad news amongst reserve pilots; in the sense that off time ended and work was to begin. After nearly a month and a half of ground school, simulator training, and on the job training (IOE), I was finally a qualified captain ready to be released into the stream of steady line operations. The assignment was a quick turn from Houston to Corpus Christi and back; a route I knew well from my Cessna days while traveling back and forth to that area for work in my previous career as a network engineer. The only thing different about that day was there was a lot of precipitation and storms in the area on a warm December day due to frontal activity that the warm south wanted nothing of.

A good friend of mine told me to save the release for my first flight as a captain, and I went through a lot of hoops to get it printed since our releases are now all digital. As soon as I laid eyes on it – I realized the first mistake. To my dismay, were filed at 8000ft and 300 knots. Although a typo on account of our dispatcher (intending for 18000ft), I called dispatch to get this corrected and get a new alternate that was closer to Corpus Christi in order to avoid bumping passengers due to weight restrictions with a lot of extra fuel. It almost felt like ferry flying again in the sense that I was the one looking at weather in the area and pulling up TAFs and METARs to brief myself on what was going on around south and southeast Texas. Although I did do this as a first officer, it almost felt like I was looking through a new set of eyes when briefing the flight.

Shortly before taxi, it started pouring rain on the ramp. Although rain isn’t a no-go item for taxi, the rain has its own trance that makes every pilot perk up in their seat and pay close attention to everything going around them. The flight to Corpus Christi was pretty uneventful except for my firm landing. I had greased on landings in the CRJ 700 for a long time, but yet my first landing as a captain was far from a greaser – but definitely acceptable. After the landing, I told my first officer that I set the bar low for him to beat my landing, which is a game I often like to play to challenge the crew to do their best at flying.

After boarding the next load of passengers, we pushed back and got ready to depart back to Houston. Storms had been building right over the coast and the strong winds were blowing them inland toward Corpus Christi, and by the time we taxied out to the runway there was a cell consisting of what the tower called “moderate to heavy precipitation” about halfway down the 7500ft runway. Both myself and the first officer agreed that it was definitely a cell, and neither of us could see to the other side. I remember times as a first officer taking off in heavy rain and being on the edge of my seat, clutching the armrests with white knuckles while the captain powered that heavy bird into the sky. My line of thinking was that I wouldn’t take off in a Super Cub in it, so why would I take off in the jet? When asking for the first officer’s opinion, he declined to give any advice or opinion and just looked over and said it’s up to me; subtly hinting that he was OK with it. I made my first captain’s decision that the pay increase was meant to cover, and declined to takeoff. 5 minutes later, the storm had dissipated and we took off uneventfully and landed safely in Houston a short time after.

As a self-proclaimed scholar of human factors and airmanship study, I try to self-debrief every action and decision I made as if I’m in the audience hearing a story about the event. I hesitate to Monday-morning quarterback the actions of those who escaped unscathed by an abnormal event, and in this situation, I was more than satisfied with the flight overall. After all, what is 5 minutes in the grand scheme of things? I am the captain now, and sure as heck ready to use the well-trained team and my experiences throughout 3800 hours of some of the toughest flying decision-wise all over the world to make the best decision.

OPINION ARTICLE: Training Engine Failure Procedures in Multi-Engine Aircraft

OPINION ARTICLE: Training Engine Failure Procedures in Multi-Engine Aircraft

The question posed was:

Engine failure just after V1 but before Vr on jet or turboprop aircraft during takeoff: What are your thoughts regarding advancing power to the mechanical stops?

First and foremost, no procedure or limitation supersedes the PIC’s authority to do what is necessary to meet the needs of the emergency. However, in many turbojet aircraft, an engine failure is considered an abnormal procedure as most transport category airplanes meet design criteria that allow them sufficient performance on one engine, even after a failure right at V1. In fact, in a 121 environment the airplane has to meet the performance criteria with the worst case scenario engine failure at V1 in order to be approved to fly into that airport. Therefore, IN THEORY, there should never be a scenario with an engine failure at V1 in which the airplane is in imminent danger while following published company, manufacturer, and FAA procedures.

However, we all know that pilots often face scenarios that do not conform to what is trained in the simulator. If you need more power, by all means push those thrust levers/throttles up. I can only speak for my own company’s engine failure procedure. The manufacturer of the aircraft published procedures that have been interpreted by our company and approved by the FAA. In our procedures, we do not advance thrust levers forward instinctively in the event of an engine failure as either FADEC or APR (CRJ-200) will automatically adjust thrust on the operating engine in the event of a failure of the other engine. Our reduced thrust performance numbers are calculated also taking into account obstacles, weight, runway length, and engine failure procedures. If suspecting an engine failure, we do verify that the additional power has been AUTOMATICALLY added by using a “check thrust” call when experiencing a SUSPECTED engine failure. If the engine power has not increased automatically through APR or FADEC, then we do advance it manually.

As with any modern CRM/Threat and Error management model, the concept is that we don’t “instinctively” throw levers and switches (unless it is an approved memory item). I often tell my students that “no action is better than an incorrect wrong action.” The concept is that as a crew, when dealing with an emergency (especially a threat with adequate time such as an engine failure, given the flight path of the aircraft is not deteriorating), we take a step back and evaluate and not rush into action. If you are approaching terrain or losing control, as I said in the first sentence, NOTHING supersedes the PIC’s authority to meet the needs of an emergency. You do what you must to maintain aircraft control.

For a long time, the industry has encouraged quick reacting in primary training. In fact, when doing my multi engine training, only seconds elapsed from the time my instructor cut off the fuel to the time the engine was feathered. As airplanes become increasingly automated, the industry focus is staring to shift to making more calculated decisions and taking more time to evaluate emergencies that are not critical and immediately life threatening. Many accidents have occurred when pilots took immediate wrong action, such as feathering the good engine. In all reality, the body does experience a “startle response” and stress reaction when faced with an emergency in real life, and we have to account for a different psychological state when dealing with real life emergencies. A wise instructor of mine once said “there are two types of emergencies – one sip and two sip. One where you take one sip of coffee and deal with it, and the other in which you take two sips of coffee and then deal with it.”

I can’t stress the importance of following the procedures recommended by the manufacturer and your company (FAA approved), if applicable. Many airplanes have different procedures, so there is not a one size fits all solution. I personally fly so many different types of airplanes that I really do have to consult the emergency/abnormal checklists even in a Cessna 172 because it’s the best source of information on how to handle it. But if my judgement tells otherwise or the procedure will put me in a worse place, then I use that PIC authority to make a better decision in the interest of safety.

As for configuration changes, that is also airplane specific. Although many manufacturer’s do call for reducing drag at specified times (gear/flaps), a pilot needs to consult their company/manufacturer to see what is recommended. Larger turbojet aircraft systems often rely on logic related to the airplane configuration, so following manufacturer’s recommendations is critical. However, every pilot can agree that reducing drag in a single engine flight scenario is optimal. The question of when to do it is generally set by the manufacturer or company.

I hope this clears up my thoughts on engine failure procedures. Although it’s mostly specific to larger turbo-jet aircraft in an airline (Part 121) environment, I think the operating philosophy applies to general aviation aircraft as well.


by Sarah Rovner

Sarah holds an ATP certificate with a CL-65 type rating and is currently a FAA Safety Team Lead Representative, Master Instructor, Captain and FTD instructor/evaluator with a Part 121 airline. Since changing careers after years as a senior network engineer for the oil & gas industry, Sarah has obtained her ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI and has flown over 3800 hours. As the owner of an international ferry pilot company, FullThrottle Aviation LLC, Sarah has flown over 115 different types of general aviation airplanes in 15 different countries including oceanic crossings in small aircraft. She continues to stay involved in general aviation through mentoring and education; volunteering at many different events and presenting original seminars on aviation safety and human factors. Although much of her flying is now professional in nature, she still enjoys flying a Super Cub on her days off. As a regular attendee of Oshkosh and local fly-ins, she enjoys the company and camaraderie that general aviation brings.