Self-Launching Glider Propeller Malfunctions
Propeller failures include propeller damage and disintegration, propeller drive belt or drive gear failure, or failure of the variable blade pitch control system. To perform an air-driven engine restart, for example, many self-launching gliders require that the propeller blades be placed in a particular blade pitch position. If the propeller blades cannot be properly adjusted, then the propeller will not deliver enough torque to start the engine. The result is a failure to obtain an air-driven engine start.
Self-Launching Glider Electrical System Malfunctions
An electrical system failure in a self-launching glider may make it impossible to control the propeller pitch if the propeller is electrically controlled. It may also result in the inability to deploy a pod engine successfully for an air restart attempt. Self-launching gliders that require a functioning electric starter for an air restart are unable to resume flight under power. If an airport is within gliding range, an onairport precautionary landing can be made. If there is no airport within gliding range and the flight can be safely continued without electrical power, the pilot may be able to soar to the vicinity of an airport and land safely. If no airport is within gliding range and flight cannot be sustained without power, an emergency off-airport landing has to be made.
Some self-launching gliders are occasionally used for night flight, cruising under power. All night flights must be conducted in accordance with FAA regulation and the glider must have the appropriate aeronautical lighting required for night time operations (14 CFR part 91, section 91.209). If carrying a passenger(s), the pilot must be qualified to operate the glider at night in accordance with 14 CFR part 61, section 61.57(b).
If an electrical system failure occurs during night operations, pilots of nearby aircraft are not able to see the self-launching glider due to the extinguished position lights. Inside the cockpit, it is difficult or impossible to see the flight instruments or electrical circuit breakers. According to 14 CFR part 135, section 135.159(f), and part 121, section 121.549(b), the FAA requires that commercial and airline pilots have a flashlight “having at least two size D cells or equivalent” for such an emergency. It makes good practical sense for other pilots to follow the same rules.
If smoke or the smell of smoke is present, make no attempt to reset any circuit breakers. In accordance with CE-10- 11R, Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin, dated January 14, 2010, and available for download at http://rgl. faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgSAIB.nsf/ (LookupSAIBs)/CE-10-11R1?OpenDocument, the best and safest practice is to not reset circuit breakers in the air unless absolutely necessary for safe flight. Resetting a circuit breaker may result in a greater overload and possible fire. [Figure 8-19] Head directly for the nearest airport and prepare for a precautionary landing there. Follow nighttime procedures and requirements. The aviation transceiver installed in the instrument panel may not function if electrical failure is total, so it is a good idea to have a portable batteryoperated aviation two-way radio onboard for use in such an emergency. It may be necessary to receive landing instruction by air traffic control (ATC) light-signal. Pilot should review 14 CFR part 91, section 125, and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) section 4-2-13, Traffic Control Light Signals, for the proper response.
An in-flight fire is the most serious emergency a pilot can encounter. If a fire has ignited, or if there is a smell of smoke or any similar smell, do everything possible to reduce the possibilities that the fire spreads and land as soon as possible. The self-launching glider GFM/POH is the authoritative source for emergency response to suspected in-flight fire. The necessary procedures are:
- Reduce throttle to idle,
- Shut off fuel valves,
- Shut off engine ignition,
- Land immediately and stop as quickly as possible, and
- Evacuate the self-launching glider immediately.
After landing, distance yourself from the glider and try to stay upwind to avoid the harmful fumes. Keep onlookers away from the glider as well. The principal danger after evacuating the glider is fuel ignition and explosion, with the potential to injure personnel at a considerable distance from the glider.
CAUTION: Modern gliders are composed of composite materials and resins that can produce very poisonous fumes. The glider pilot should do whatever is necessary to avoid the fumes to include jettisoning of the canopy, which allows breathable air in and elimination of fumes from the cockpit. This same modern construction also means a fire can spread very quickly. A quick landing or abandoning the glider for a parachute landing may be the only option for the pilot. If the fire is spreading to the wings, bailout at a safe altitude may be the safest choice if the airframe will not last until the landing.