Aviation Safety Corner
GREETINGS! For this month's topic, I would like to continue our discussion, "Staying Ready for Anything."
Exploring what the new Airplane Flying Handbook has to say about handling 'generic' emergency situations.
This is Part II of IV.
Let's begin our discussion with "Be Prepared." Lacking guidance from the "book," what's a pilot supposed to do? The Boeing 737 manual, for instancewas alone among the 12 in providing a procedure for an asymmetric flap condition (that's when you extend the flaps and only one of them moves, creating a potentially severe roll close to the ground). The lack of coverage probably is due to the fact that the condition isn't supposed to happen. But it does. I recently read reports on two accidents that happened a few years apart. Both mentioned that "a loud bang was heard" when something broke that wasn't supposed to break. One of the airplanes was a Cessna 210 on base leg; the other, a homebuilt turning from downwind to base. They both crashed. No procedure in the book. The message here is that anything can break anytime, even in the most well-built machines. We have to be prepared for it.
A "split-flap" condition isn't supposed to happen in most airplanes, but what would you do if you experienced an unexpected roll tomorrow morning as you were putting the flaps down on final? The AFH recommends that you put the flap selector back to the "up" position and continue flying the airplane; but you probably won't find that in your airplane manual.
Other generic emergency situations contained in the AFH include: engine fire on start, smoke/fire in flight, partial power loss, complete power loss, inadvertent door opening on takeoff or in flight, and emergency approach and landing.
Now, Let's Discuss, "Going by the Book." Again, if these situations are covered in the AFM or POH for the airplane you fly, should go by what your book says. The airplane must contain a current, approved copy of the appropriate AFM. That's what FAR 91.9 says.
Does your airplane have the approved AFM aboard? If not, ask the owner or operator to get one and keep it in the airplane. As pilot-in command, you're the one who's responsible if you fly the airplane without the approved AFM aboard!
It's a good idea to have your own copy of the flight manual, so that you can bone up on emergency procedures and systems in the comfort of your home or office now and then. It's amazing how much just reading through your checklists the night before a flight will freshen procedures, particularly when you haven't flown for awhile.
If the manual contains no guidance for a particular maneuver, situation or circumstance, check out the Airplane Flying Handbook. In many cases, it will contain a recommended procedure, consideration or course of action that is appropriate. The current Flight Training Handbook also is a valuable source for that type of information.
More than 30 authors and editors from around the country have been at work on the Airplane Flying Handbook. The procedures contained therein result from a wealth of knowledge and experience, plus a lot of thought and research of accident trends and the like.
Don't miss next month's, Aviation Safety Corner, when we'll discuss, "Sampling the Handbook." This will be Part III of IV.
Larry G. Harmon
FAA Aviation Safety Counselor