February 2018 Safety Corner

It’s as simple as A, B, C, D, E . . . . .

When it comes to emergencies in the plane, these five letters can be a life saver. You probably remember them, while you toiled away earning your private license. If you don’t remember, I’ll give you a quick refresher.

Recently, Oracle Aviation had a couple of aircraft incidents that caused airplanes to land off airport. One was the result of a mechanical issue and the other, unfortunately, was a result of a pilot error. FORTUNATELY, neither incident resulted in any injuries or fatalities. The pilots in both planes did a good job of managing the actual off field landings because they were able to recall the emergency procedures taught during their initial training. The only way people walk away from off-field landings – regardless of the reasons why that happens – is because they follow the basics of:

A, B, C, D, E. When your engine quits, it’s critical that you do the following.

A – A is for airspeed. Know your best glide speed and NAIL IT! It’s important to reduce the freak out time to a few seconds and get this done right away. That will buy you time as you continue down the list.

B – B is looking for ‘best field’ or best landing option. Hopefully, it is a field where you have a lot of options. Since we are in the Midwest, we have a lot of rural areas. Every – thing looks fairly flat from the air but that’s not always the case. Look for agricultural fields that have straight rows of corn, beans, etc., and are not curved. All the curved fields are terraced, are not level, and also have varying degrees of elevation. Knowing the general wind direction in the area will be helpful in establishing a plan of action once you’ve chosen the field. If you don’t have the luxury of landing in a fairly open area or have to land in populated areas, pick the landing spot that may include green grass or an open area. You’re not going to have very much room for error so keeping any float or roll out to a minimum is critical. Managing your speed and rate of decent will be critical.

C – C is for checklist . YES, once you have your glide speed nailed and decided on a field (hopefully you have altitude to burn), pull out the old checklist to review emergency items. Remember to Squawk 7700.

D – Once the checklist review is completed, get on the radio to ATC (approach or center) and tell them what’s happening. Once you squawk 7700, they may already be trying to contact you. Give them your location and souls on board (if you have the 430 operating, choose the page that includes your lat and long info and pass that on to ATC). They will notify the appropriate authorities and get help to you as soon as possible. Remember, AVIATE, NAVIGATE, COMMUNICATE in that order.

E – Time to EXECUTE. This is where practicing pin-point landings, no flap landings, landing light out, 180 power off landings, etc., all come to fruition. Once you have briefed your passengers, concentrate on flying the plane to the ground and at the same time following your reviewed emergency procedures – gear down, wings level, fuel and electric off, and just do your best!

Concentrating on these steps will help eliminate stupid thoughts that run through many pilot’s heads in these situations . . . . . how did I get into this
situation, why me?, what’s everyone going to say?, will I lose my license?, how much is this going to cost?, etc. The ONLY thing you need to worry about is to get yourself and any passengers down in one piece and walk away. Planes can be replaced and egos can be smoothed, but your family only cares about you and those with you. Remember, people are not replaceable.

KEVIN BRODERICK, SAFETY OFFICER, ATP,CFII