Exercise 17 – Forced Landings Without Power

Exercise 17 – Forced Landings Without Power



  • On departure


  • On climb-out: in relation to surface wind

3. FULL practice forced landing PATTERN

  • Engine failure – No fire
  • Immediate actions – Best glide
  • Field selection + 1000 ft point
  • Failure checks, RT
  • Turning points (+ ideal heights)
  • Go-around


  • Agree field + 1000 ft Point with student
  • Set up at 1000 ft – Student flies
  • Losing excess height: S-turns, use of flap, forward slip


  • Student selects field + 1000 ft Point
  • Flies pattern from 1000 ft to go around


  • Student selects field + 1000 ft Point Flies pattern from start of downwind to go-around


  • From various heights/positions:
  • No warning – intercept “ideal” pattern
  • Introduce checks progressively


  • Fire Drills
  • Emergency descent until fire goes out
  • Transition to normal glide and PFL when fire out or below 1000 ft


  • Treat as engine failure after take-off



  • When briefing your students initially, stress the following:
    1. Engine failures leading to forced landings are very rare and that proper engine-handling, coupled with adherence to checklists, including regular cruise checks, reduces the risks even more.
    2. The aim of a real forced landing is to “walk away from it”, not to minimize damage to the aeroplane.
    3. The aim of practice forced landings is to learn a systematic approach to handling an engine failure; to learn to fly a standard pattern and develop the judgement to modify the pattern as necessary in order to maximize the chance of making a successful landing. handling an engine failure; to learn to fly a standard pattern and develop the judgement to modify the pattern as necessary in order to maximize the chance of making a successful landing.


  • Discuss Committal Height: it is the height (1000 ft agl), at which the pilot commits himself to complete a forced landing (in the event of a real emergency) and when he must make a final decision whether or not to switch off the fuel and ignition. This is governed largely by the following two considerations:
  1. If the failure is mechanical and the engine has definitely broken down, it should be switched off immediately.
  2. f the failure is partial, resulting in reduced power or intermittent running, the engine may be used at the pilot’s discretion but stress that the windmilling engine may pick up temporarily or fail again at a critical stage and so spoil the approach. In such a case it may be best to assume a total failure and not rely on the faulty engine. For practices, this is the point at which the Crash Checks should be completed.


  • Preparatory Instruction
    a. Forced landing procedure
    b. Factors governing choice of landing area
    c. Actions after landing


  • Stress that knowing HEIGHT, rather than ALTITUDE is the key to success and that your student needs to be continually aware of the elevation of the terrain below and subtract to that from his altitude to determine height. Make sure you and your student comply with the relevant rules ( National regulations and Flying Academy specified limits) on minimum heights/separation distances for practice
    forced landings.
  • Lookout is particularly important: the extra hazards at low level include low flying military aeroplanes, helicopters, others practising forced landings areas, birds and obstacles – wires etc. Teach your student not to over-concentrate on the landing area – a natural tendency.
  • To avoid turning a practice into a real forced landing, teach:
    Using carb heat and warming the engine every 1000 ft
    Carrying out touch drills only


  • This is a complex and demanding exercise that will take several flights before your student becomes proficient, so you must make sure you teach systematically. After an initial demonstration from cruising altitude (at approximately 4000 ft agl), teach the pattern from the bottom upwards; this is both time- efficient and is the best learning order for your student as it allows you to build on the skills and experience your student has gained from glide circuits.
  • It is better for your student if you teach left-hand patterns initially (lookout and keeping the chosen field in view is easier) but as he gains experience make sure he flies both left and right-hand patterns (it would not be sensible for him to pick a poor field on the left rather than a good one on the right just because he’s only learned left-handed practice forced landings)


The field must be within gliding range – inside an imaginary circle drawn through the nose and about 2/3 span once established in the gliding attitude. Remind your student that range gliding down-wind is better than into wind.

Teach your student to select a field based on the “6 S”:

Surface wind – headwind ( to ident smoke, threes, gamet (veering/backing), waves on water, etc)
Size – The bigger the better
Shape – Ideally a large ‘squarish’ field but if long and thin, the long dimension should be into wind
Surrounds – No major obstructions in the undershoot or overshoot
Surface – Smooth, flat and hard (runways, short dry grass are ideal; beware boggy areas or tall standing crops – risk of overturning)
Slope – If faced with a steeply sloping field, try to land up-hill in light winds. If the surface wind is over 10 kts, it’s better to ignore the slope and land into wind.

Point out fields and discuss these factors during the climb-out for the first practice forced landing lesson. Because details of the surrounds, surface and slope are difficult to distinguish from altitude, if several fields are available it is better to glide towards a suitable area initially,
leaving the final choice until details of the fields are clearer.

Stress that, together with selecting a field, your student must select an appropriate “1000 ft Point” to go with it:

On base leg, 45° back from the Initial Aiming Point in the field, about 1⁄2 mile out.

Equivalent to the point at which throttle is closed on a glide circuit.


  • If possible, have your student fly a glide circuit before you depart for the first lesson to remind him of the appearance of the landing area as the throttle is closed – equivalent to the “1000 ft Point”
  • Demonstrate a full practice forced landing from cruising altitude, assuming complete engine failure but no fire. It is vital that this demonstration works out, so don’t rush into it – know which field you plan to use and the “1000 ft Point” before you close the throttle, and try to make a left-hand pattern.

Stress sticking to the usual priorities:

Golden rule

Aviate – Select attitude for best glide IAS and trim.

Navigate – Select a field and 1000 ft Point and plan the practice forced landing pattern, based on landing into wind. Discuss use of smoke, effect of wind on surface features (waves on water, waving crops) to determine wind direction, or base it on wind at take-off. (Pick an initial Aim Point (IAP) 1⁄3 of the way into the field).

Communicate/Checks – These are very much the lowest priority but checking for cause of failure (an empty fuel tank?) may well avoid a forced landing at all and radio range can decrease markedly at lower levels.

Show correct points to turn crosswind, downwind and base, with ideal heights to be at each (3000 ft, 2000 ft and 1500 ft respectively). Stress that from the 1000 ft Point, the practice forced landing is just like a glide circuit, with S-turns and flap selection being used to increase ROD to bring touchdown towards the field boundary from the IAP. If a little low, cut the base-to-final corner; if in doubt about reaching the field – pick a closer one!

  • On the go-around, discuss how the approach from the 1000 ft Point went (whether it needs moving in or out from the field to optimise the approach) and set your student up in the glide at the 1000 ft Point (modified if necessary) and let him practise the last part of the approach (using flap A/R to bring the touchdown back towards the start of the field), to go around.
  • Climb to ± 1500 ft agl, get your student to nominate a different field and its 1000 ft Point, put him in a glide approaching the 1000 ft Point and have him fly the approach to go around again.
  • Discuss whether the 1000 ft Point needs modifying, set the student up at 2000 ft downwind for the same field and let him fly the pattern to go around. Brief him to adjust his pattern, if necessary, (S-turn or cut the corner) to make the 1000 ft Point at the right height. Up to this point – do not bother your student with checks: concentrate on flying and judgement.
  • On subsequent lessons, increase the difficulty by closing the throttle without warning so that your student has the added pressure of time to select his field and plan the pattern. Stress that he must not waste time and precious height looking for “the ideal field” – adequate is fine! Gradually feed in the requirement to complete checks. The MAYDAY call should be simulated over the intercom,
    rather than merely mentioned in the course of the drill. In actual conditions the call should be initiated on the frequency in use, and if no reply is received, the distress frequency should be selected where time permits.


  • If your student takes too long to select a field or landing area, remind him that it is better to select an adequate one without delay rather that dither until lack of height leaves him with no options! You can also help with appropriate field selection following a failure at cruising altitude by getting him to orientate the aeroplane in relation to the wind. By turning onto an appropriate heading relative to the wind:

At 4000 ft turn into wind.

Between 3000 ft and 2000 ft turn crosswind

Between 2000 ft and 1500 ft turn downwind

Between 1500 ft and 800 ft turn onto a on base leg

(all figures agl and approximate). In each case, an appropriate landing area would be at 10 o’clock (left-hand pattern) or 2 o’clock (right-hand pattern).

  • Many students concentrate on the checks at the expense of judgement. Insist on your student sticking to the Aviate, Navigate, Communicate priorities.
  • Some students pay insufficient attention to maintaining best glide speed while flying the PFL pattern. Stress the importance of trimming correctly and that flying the correct IAS is essential for three reasons:
    1. It gives the best gliding range – often essential.
    2. It gives a safe margin above the stall – treat it as the MINIMUM acceptable airspeed.
    3. Without a steady (gliding) attitude, it is impossible to judge the descent path accurately.
  • Some students have difficulty in estimating 500 ft agl accurately or get so fixated on the approach that they forget to initiate the go-around. You must ensure that you student initiates go-arounds (not below 500 ft agl) consistently on his own initiative before you authorise him to practise practice forced landings solo.