PPL: Forced Landings

Today’s lesson was to practice forced landings. My instructor and I had a pre-flight briefing explaining how to do it and the method to follow. A force landing has to be performed when there is an engine failure due to fuel starvation, mechanical failure of the engine, carburettor Icing, etc…

The most important thing is to stay calm, don’t panic and fly the airplane.

  1. Maintain the altitude while the speed was decreasing to our best glide speed (71 knots in the CTLS), then trimmed the aircraft for that speed.
  2. Assess the wind direction using the PFD (Primary Flight Instrument), by looking outside for smoke or by using the most recent wind direction given by ATC or by the ATIS.
  3. Pick a suitable field. There are few things to consider when selecting a field but obviously you should not become fixated with trying to meet all of them.

    Shape: Square? Ideally you want the field to be wide and long, giving you a good safety margin.

    Size: Will there be a large enough landing distance?

    Surface: We want to land in a cut grass field or a field which has a soft, shallow crop. Muddy fields and landing across the plough line of the field will only increase the risk of injury during landing.

    Surroundings: Look around the field, not just the initial aiming area. Are there any telegraph poles? Electricity pylons? Walls or fences half way down the field?

    Slope: ideally flat

    Sun: We do not want to be flying directly into the sun on your final approach to the field as it could cause glare to the point where your view is very poor.

  4. Now that we know where we are going to land, we turn downwind and try to figure why the engine has stopped and if possible get it started again. Here are some of the main items that need to be checked in the CTLS: Fuel quantity, Fuel valve, Carb heat, magnetos, Oil pressure and oil temperature. If the engine doesn’t restart we need to proceed to the next steps.
  5. Mayday Call: – Mayday x 3, Your callsign, Aircraft Type, nature of problem (e.g. Engine Failure), Attempting Landing in Field, Position, # of POB, Squawk 7700
  6. Engine shutdown. As we can’t restart the engine, we need to shut it off. Fuel – off, magnetos – off, throttle – closed.
  7. Crash checks. Seat belts – tight, door unlatched, passenger safety brief, master switch off.

We’ve practiced a few forced landings from 2,000 ft vertical runway in both direction (east and west). The hardest part for me was to know when to turn in order to arrive not too high nor too low at the beginning of the runway. But after few attempts and following the 2/3rd, 1/3rd method, I was successful at landing the plane on the runway.

A quick de-brief back in the office and that was it for today.


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