August 2010 Issue

Engine Failure: From Denial To Final

Shake off the shock, and fly the airplane. While youíre at it, youíll want to verify the failure and try to fix it. Then think about where to land.

My student and I were on vectors for the approach. The ceiling was about 1500 feet and we were at 4000 in solid, smooth IMC. I was just explaining how I used the ADF to track my position on the approach (this was before moving-map GPS) when the airplane lurched slightly, then began a shallow descent. My student, who had only recently had a new engine installed on the aircraft, froze up and muttered, "Itís a new engine" two or three times. I took control and held altitude as the airplane decelerated, immediately banking toward the point of the ADF needle, the nearest airport. What happened next Iíll address later, but my student was exhibiting a common first response to an actual engine failureódenial.

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