CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 1 - (Page 6)
Whatever you say, sir
BY DAVID JACK KENNY
"WHO'S IN CHARGE" (CFI to CFI, Volume
2, Issue 4) highlighted the confusion over pilot-in-command authority that can arise when owners receive recurrent training in their aircraft, particularly from an instructor without much recent time in the same make and model. The importance of makeand-model currency may also be overlooked by an owner impressed by a CFI’s decades of experience, thousands of hours, and multiple ratings. This ambiguity can prove deadly, especially in situations offering little margin for error. About 7:30 p.m. on June 7, 2010, a Beech Duke was consumed by ﬁre after hitting
discussed regulations, airport markings, weather, communications, and terminal procedures, and worked out weight, balance, and fuel requirements for a sample IFR ﬂight plan. Questions speciﬁc to multiengine ﬂying came up about 90 minutes into the session. During the preﬂight inspection, the instructor showed enough familiarity with the Duke to recognize various aftermarket modiﬁcations. The owner speciﬁcally recalled discussing its slow acceleration and sluggish initial climb and the need for full power during takeoff. They agreed that the owner would maintain control during any abnormal situation;
THE OWNER'S SURPRISE CHANGED TO ALARM AFTER THE DUKE LIFTED OFF AND HE REACHED FOR THE GEAR SELECTOR SWITCH. AT AN ALTITUDE OF PERHAPS FEET, THE INSTRUC TOR PULLED BACK THE LEFT THROTTLE.
trees during takeoff from the Northeastern Regional Airport in Edenton, North Carolina. The airplane’s owner, a 1,550-hour commercial pilot, escaped through the emergency exit. He suffered four cracked ribs, separations of both shoulders, and burns to his face, neck, palms, and both forearms. He was unable to rescue the CFI who’d been giving him an instrument proﬁciency check. The 69-year-old CFI boasted a long and varied career. His certiﬁcates included airline transport pilot with ﬁve type ratings, ﬂight engineer, CFII SEL and MEL, and A&P mechanic. His CFI renewal on March 28 reported 30,000 hours of civilian ﬂight experience. He’d ﬂown for several airlines and regional operators, served as a simulator instructor, and commanded “air bridge” ﬂights to Kabul and Baghdad for a U.S. government contractor. He told the Duke’s owner that he hadn’t ﬂown a Beech 60 “in a while.” The owner later regretted not having asked for more details. In a two-hour ground lesson, they reviewed logbooks and certiﬁcates, the instructor would take command only if their safety was at risk. The ﬁrst hour of airwork covered basic attitude instrument ﬂying, powered and power-off stalls, VOR tracking, and unusual attitude recoveries. The instructor provided vectors for a simulated ASR approach and they landed without incident. Next, the instructor provided a complex departure clearance requiring several minutes of GPS programming, VOR tuning, and other preparations before takeoff. Eastern North Carolina gets warm and humid in June, and the Duke’s owner recalled the cockpit was very hot by the time they taxied back out. He told investigators that the instructor “was very red in the face and…drenched in sweat.” After they lined up on the runway, the instructor said, “I’ve got the throttles for this takeoff.” The owner did not object, anticipating a simulated engine failure after they entered the simulated clouds. He was surprised, though, when the CFI only applied partial power. The manifold pressure gauges peaked at 37 “rather than the 41” produced
at full throttle. Onlookers noticed that the takeoff roll seemed unusually long. The owner’s surprise changed to alarm after the Duke lifted off and the instructor reached for the gear selector switch. At an altitude of perhaps 50 feet, the instructor pulled back the left throttle. Airspeed had barely reached VMC and decayed rapidly with the gear down and the left propeller windmilling. As the Duke began an uncommanded roll to the left, its owner reached for the throttles, but the CFI covered them with both hands. By lowering the nose and using full right rudder, the owner managed to level the wings just before they hit the trees. There’s no way to know why the instructor chose to simulate an engine failure at such low altitude and airspeed, or why he didn’t provide full power for takeoff. In his initial statement to police, the Duke’s owner suggested the CFI might have suffered some medical crisis. If the autopsy found any supporting evidence, the NTSB didn’t report it. It’s conceivable with all that time in jets the CFI momentarily forgot the much sharper limitations of a piston twin. But even though certiﬁcation standards require airliners to demonstrate the ability to climb out on one engine, it’s usually practiced in the simulator rather than the airplane, and it’s hard to imagine not responding with full power once the aircraft began going out of control. The inadvisability of practicing engine failures at low altitude doesn’t need much reinforcement. This accident offers a broader lesson, though. In his NTSB report, the owner speciﬁcally noted that the disparity in experience allowed a dominant instructor to overwhelm the misgivings of a passive student. That’s a dynamic that threatens student and instructor alike. David Jack Kenny is manager of aviation safety analysis for the Air Safety Institute, an instrument-rated commercial pilot, and owner of a Piper Arrow.
6 | www.airsafetyinstitute.org
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 1
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 1
ASI seminar: Wanted Alive! Reining in the Fatal Accident Rate
CFI tools: The runway alignment reflex
Checklist: Glass glitch
Safety spotlight: Whatever you say, sir
CFI's corner: Are you listening?
CFI-to-CFI Newsletter - Volume 3, Issue 1