When one engine has failed, the helicopter can often maintain altitude and airspeed until a suitable landing site can be selected. Whether or not this is possible becomes a function of such combined variables as aircraft weight, density altitude, height above ground, airspeed, phase of flight, and single-engine capability. Environmental response time and control technique may be additional factors. Caution must be exercised to correctly identify the malfunctioning engine since there is no telltale yawing as occurs in most multiengine airplanes. Shutting down the wrong engine could be disastrous! Even when flying multiengine powered helicopters, rotor rpm must be maintained at all costs, because fuel contamination has been documented as the cause for both engines failing in flight.
The flight characteristics and the required crew member control responses after a dual-engine failure are similar to those during a normal power-on descent. Full control of the helicopter can be maintained during autorotational descent. In autorotation, as airspeed increases above 70–80 KIAS, the rate of descent and glide distance increase significantly. As airspeed decreases below approximately 60 KIAS, the rate of descent increases and glide distance decreases.