October 2001 Issue

Why Engines Fail

A study of engine failure accidents shows pilot error leads the pack, with mechanical woes far behind

[IMGCAP(1)] Except for those who fly gliders, most pilots live in fear of an engine failure. Some are so wary they fly multi-engine airplanes for no reason other than to give them more options should an engine decide to imitate a brick. Pilots of singles, of course, have no choices. When the engine crumps, itís time to hit the softest thing you can find as softly as you can manage.

But the fear of imminent engine failure is in some ways misguided. Annual inspections, preflights and runups are all designed to catch little problems before they become big ones. In addition, the relatively simple engine design helps make them more reliable.

On the other hand, there are forces at work agai...

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