Features

January 2012 Issue

IFR Emergencies

System failures under IFR must be handled differently than when the weather’s good. Above all, remember to fly the airplane first, then deal with the problem.

There you are, droning along in the clag, watching the autopilot watch things for you, monitoring the frequency and marveling at how the IFR system’s various parts mesh together. But you haven’t been paying attention to the ammeter, which is showing a steep discharge. Suddenly, your autopilot’s control panel goes dark, along with your older number two nav/comm, and the stable airplane you’ve been monitoring—not flying—for the last hour and half wants to pitch up and bank right. Congratulations: You’re about 15 minutes from completely draining the ship’s battery and total electrical failure in IMC. You’re also about 20 minutes from the nearest suitable airport, one with services like a maintenance shop. Did we mention it’s well past sundown?

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