Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Engine-Out Landings

Management of remaining power and hitting all the numbers are keys to success

If I were to declare that an approach and landing in a twin-engine airplane with one engine inoperative is essentially the same as a two-engine approach and landing, I'd probably be branded as incredibly simplistic and lacking knowledge of what a pilot who's coping with an emergency needs to do to ensure a safe outcome. Yet, that's what the FAA says in its Airplane Flying Handbook, publication FAA H-8083-3A. It then goes on to provide tips about when to lower the landing gear and flaps, the need to maintain proper airspeed and trim, and the desirability of a normal three-degrees glidepath.

What isn't said is that your success in safely completing an engine-out landing is going to be tied to your overall skill, ability to think and act with precision, the amount of engine-out practice you've had, the condition of the remaining engine and the environmental conditions you're facing. Occasionally, the NTSB is called upon to investigate what went wrong during an engine-out landing attempt.

Cessna 441
A twin-engine turboprop Cessna 441 crashed in Nashville, Pa., while approaching York Airport (THV) in nearby Thomasville, Pa. The commercial pilot was killed. He was the only occupant. It was night VFR. The flight originated at Long Beach, Calif., and operated on an IFR flight plan.

According to the FAA, the airplane departed Long Beach just after 8 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, and climbed to FL 330. It subsequently climbed to FL 350. It began its descent to the destination at about 4:39 p.m., local time. At 7:07 p.m., the pilot cancelled the IFR flight plan with New York Center, and at 7:16 p.m., he terminated flight following with Harrisburg Approach Control.

Radar data indicated that at 7:19 p.m., the airplane was about 24 miles west of THV at 1,700 feet. The airplane continued eastbound and entered a 45-degree left downwind for runway 35.

An airport employee told investigators that the pilot radioed for airport advisories, and when the airplane was about midway through the base leg, the pilot transmitted that he had an "engine out." The airplane didn't then turn onto the final approach leg, but continued through it, heading east. The pilot then called "base to final," quickly followed by the airplane turning to the south, then to the west. The employee saw the angle of bank increase to where the airplane's wings were vertical, then inverted, and saw the airplane then make at least one-and-a-half rolls and descend.

Measurements of plotted radar positions versus time indicated an approximate ground speed of 112 knots during the downwind leg, slowing to 102 knots at the beginning of the left base leg. During the subsequent right turn, the ground speed slowed to about 75 knots while the airplane maintained altitudes of 1,100 to 1,200 feet.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and multi-engine land airplane, and instrument airplane. According to the last entry in the pilot's logbook that appeared to have been written during the accident flight, the pilot had flown 1,409 total hours with 951 hours—of that being in multi-engine airplanes and 463 "turbine" hours. He held an FAA third class medical certificate.


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