From time to time on dual flights, the instructor should give surprise simulated emergency landings by retarding the throttle and calling “simulated emergency landing.” The objective of these simulated emergency landings is to develop pilot accuracy, judgment, planning, procedures, and confidence. When the instructor calls “simulated emergency landing,” the pilot should immediately establish the best glide speed and the aircraft trimmed (if so equipped) to maintain that speed.
A constant gliding speed should initially be maintained because variations of gliding speed nullify all attempts at accuracy in judgment of gliding distance and the landing spot. The many variables, such as altitude, obstruction, wind direction, landing direction, landing surface and gradient, and landing distance requirements of the aircraft determine the pattern and approach procedures to use.
Utilizing any combination of normal gliding maneuvers, from wings level to steep turns, the pilot should eventually arrive at the normal reference position at a normal traffic pattern altitude for the selected landing area. From this point on, the approach is as nearly as possible a normal power-off approach as described previously in the Power-off Accuracy Approaches section. Steep approach techniques may be used for final approach if required.
If the student is high above the desired emergency landing area, large low-banked circles above the area should be made and widened or narrowed as required to provide downwind and final reference points for the landing. [Figure 11-35]
Despite the greater choice of fields afforded by higher altitudes, the inexperienced pilot may be inclined to delay making a decision and, despite considerable altitude in which to maneuver, errors in maneuvering and estimation of glide distance may develop.
All pilots should learn to determine the wind direction and estimate its speed from any means available. This could be a feel of the wind drift on the WSC, GPS ground speed versus true airspeed, and visual indicators such as the windsock at the airport, smoke from factories or houses, dust, fires, flags, ripples on water surfaces, and windmills.
Once a field has been selected, the student pilot should always be required to indicate it to the instructor. Normally, the student should be required to plan and fly a pattern for landing on the field first elected until the instructor terminates the simulated emergency landing. This gives the instructor an opportunity to explain and correct any errors; it also gives the student an opportunity to see the results of the errors. However, if the student realizes during the approach that a poor field has been selected—one that would obviously result in disaster if a landing were to be made—and there is a more advantageous field within gliding distance, a change to the better field should be permitted. The hazards involved in these last-minute decisions, such as excessive maneuvering at very low altitudes, should be thoroughly explained by the instructor. Steep approaches, varying the position of the base leg, and varying the turn onto final approach should be stressed as ways of correcting for misjudgment of altitude and glide angle.
Eagerness to get down is one of the most common faults of inexperienced pilots during simulated emergency landings. In giving way to this, they forget about speed and arrive at the edge of the field with too much speed to permit a safe landing. Too much speed may be just as dangerous as too little; it results in excessive floating and overshooting the desired landing spot. It should be impressed on the students that they cannot dive at a field and expect to land on it if it is short.
During all simulated emergency landings, the engine should be kept warm and cleared. During a simulated emergency landing, the student should have control of the foot throttle and the instructor should have control of a second throttle. The instructor should tell the student to increase the throttle when needed, but the instructor should be ready with the second throttle in case the student does not apply it as required.
Every simulated emergency landing approach should be terminated as soon as it can be determined whether a safe landing could have been made. In no case should it be continued to a point where it creates an undue hazard or an annoyance to persons or property on the ground.
In addition to flying the aircraft from the point of simulated engine failure to where a reasonable safe landing could be made, the student should also be taught certain emergency flight deck procedures. The habit of performing these flight deck procedures should be developed to such an extent that, when an engine failure actually occurs, the student checks the critical items that would be necessary to get the engine operating again while selecting a field and planning an approach. Combining the two operations—accomplishing emergency procedures and planning and flying the approach—is difficult for the student during early training in emergency landings.
There are definite steps and procedures to be followed in a simulated emergency landing. Although they may differ somewhat from the procedures used in an actual emergency, they should be learned thoroughly by the student and each step called out to the instructor. The use of a checklist is strongly recommended. Most aircraft manufacturers provide a checklist of the appropriate items.
Critical items to be checked should include the quantity of fuel and the position of the magneto switch. Many actual emergency landings could have been prevented if the pilots had developed the habit of checking these critical items during flight training to the extent that it carried over into later flying.