Chapter 16 Emergency Procedures
Table of Contents
Types of Emergency Landings
Basic Safety Concepts
Attitude and Sink Rate Control
Water (Ditching) and Snow
Engine Failure After Takeoff (Single-Engine)
Flight Control Malfunction / Failure
Total Flap Failure
Asymmetric (Split) Flap
Loss of Elevator Control
Landing Gear Malfunction
Abnormal Engine Instrument Indications
Door Opening In Flight
Inadvertent VFR Flight Into IMC
Maintaining Airplane Control
Transition to Visual Flight
A fire in flight demands immediate and decisive action. The pilot therefore must be familiar with the procedures outlined to meet this emergency contained in the AFM/POH for the particular airplane. For the purposes of this handbook, in-flight fires are classified as: in- flight engine fires, electrical fires, and cabin fires.
An in-flight engine compartment fire is usually caused by a failure that allows a flammable substance such as fuel, oil or hydraulic fluid to come in contact with a hot surface. This may be caused by a mechanical failure of the engine itself, an engine-driven accessory, a defective induction or exhaust system, or a broken line. Engine compartment fires may also result from maintenance errors, such as improperly installed/fastened lines and/or fittings resulting in leaks.
Engine compartment fires can be indicated by smoke and/or flames coming from the engine cowling area. They can also be indicated by discoloration, bubbling, and/or melting of the engine cowling skin in cases where flames and/or smoke is not visible to the pilot. By the time a pilot becomes aware of an in-flight engine compartment fire, it usually is well developed. Unless the airplane manufacturer directs otherwise in the AFM/POH, the first step on discovering a fire should be to shut off the fuel supply to the engine by placing the mixture control in the idle cut off position and the fuel selector shutoff valve to the OFF position. The ignition switch should be left ON in order to use up the fuel that remains in the fuel lines and components between the fuel selector/shutoff valve and the engine. This procedure may starve the engine compartment of fuel and cause the fire to die naturally. If the flames are snuffed out, no attempt should be made to restart the engine.
If the engine compartment fire is oil-fed, as evidenced by thick black smoke, as opposed to a fuel-fed fire which produces bright orange flames, the pilot should consider stopping the propeller rotation by feathering or other means, such as (with constant-speed propellers) placing the pitch control lever to the minimum r.p.m. position and raising the nose to reduce airspeed until the propeller stops rotating. This procedure will stop an engine-driven oil (or hydraulic) pump from continuing to pump the flammable fluid which is feeding the fire.
Some light airplane emergency checklists direct the pilot to shut off the electrical master switch. However, the pilot should consider that unless the fire is electrical in nature, or a crash landing is imminent, deactivating the electrical system prevents the use of panel radios for transmitting distress messages and will also cause air traffic control (ATC) to lose transponder returns.
Pilots of powerless single-engine airplanes are left with no choice but to make a forced landing. Pilots of twin-engine airplanes may elect to continue the flight to the nearest airport. However, consideration must be given to the possibility that a wing could be seriously impaired and lead to structural failure. Even a brief but intense fire could cause dangerous structural damage. In some cases, the fire could continue to burn under the wing (or engine cowling in the case of a single- engine airplane) out of view of the pilot. Engine compartment fires which appear to have been extinguished have been known to rekindle with changes in airflow pattern and airspeed.
The pilot must be familiar with the airplane’s emergency descent procedures. The pilot must bear in mind that:
The initial indication of an electrical fire is usually the distinct odor of burning insulation. Once an electrical fire is detected, the pilot should attempt to identify the faulty circuit by checking circuit breakers, instruments, avionics, and lights. If the faulty circuit cannot be readily detected and isolated, and flight conditions permit, the battery master switch and alternator/generator switches should be turned off to remove the possible source of the fire. However, any materials which have been ignited may continue to burn.Ch 16.qxd 5/7/04 10:30 AM Page 16-8
If electrical power is absolutely essential for the flight, an attempt may be made to identify and isolate the faulty circuit by:
Cabin fires generally result from one of three sources:
A fire in the cabin presents the pilot with two immediate demands: attacking the fire, and getting the airplane safely on the ground as quickly as possible. A fire or smoke in the cabin should be controlled by identifying and shutting down the faulty system. In many cases, smoke may be removed from the cabin by opening the cabin air vents. This should be done only after the fire extinguisher (if available) is used. Then the cabin air control can be opened to purge the cabin of both smoke and fumes. If smoke increases in intensity when the cabin air vents are opened, they should be immediately closed. This indicates a possible fire in the heating system, nose compartment baggage area (if so equipped), or that the increase in airflow is feeding the fire.
On pressurized airplanes, the pressurization air system will remove smoke from the cabin; however, if the smoke is intense, it may be necessary to either depressurize at altitude, if oxygen is available for all occupants, or execute an emergency descent.
In unpressurized single-engine and light twin-engine airplanes, the pilot can attempt to expel the smoke from the cabin by opening the foul weather windows. These windows should be closed immediately if the fire becomes more intense. If the smoke is severe, the passengers and crew should use oxygen masks if available, and the pilot should initiate an immediate descent. The pilot should also be aware that on some airplanes, lowering the landing gear and/or wing flaps can aggravate a cabin smoke problem.