Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Here's a copy of the ride report for the recurrent ride I did on Saturday. Click on it to make it bigger.

According to the Transport Canada scale, a "4" on an item is perfection. A "3" is normal proficiency, maybe a few slight errors that don't affect safety of flight. A "2" means something happened that might eventually affect safety, and that you'll get your ass chewed by the inspector. A "1" means a serious error that jeopardized the safety of flight, and if it had happened in the real airplane there's a good chance you would have wound up in a field somewhere.

If you get a "1" on any item, you fail the entire checkride.

As you can see, I got a fair whack of "4"s and "3"s, but I also got a "2" on an emergency, which was Engine Fire. I'll be focusing on that part of my ride in this post.

Continued from 2 days ago:

My First Officer said "Engine Failure" in a calm and collected tone of voice.

I rotated the nose of the airplane to around 8 degrees nose-up and we started to climb out on one engine. I stomped on the right rudder to keep the nose of the airplane straight, and we started to climb.

"Positive Rate" was his call, indicating that we were in fact climbing.
"Gear Up" I replied, and he moved the landing gear lever upward, which tucks our wheels into the airplane, reducing drag. When we are operating single-engine, reducing drag is a priority as less drag means a better climb rate, and a better climb rate means less chance of hitting a nearby hill or building.

A big red light in front of us lit up.

"Oh, and the engine is also on fire." Said the First Officer.

"Set Max Thrust, flaps to approach" was my next call.

It's a redundant call in this case, as our flaps are already set to the approach setting, and during takeoff we already set the power to max thrust, but it's a call that we make for any engine failure when we are close to the ground.

My First Officer confirmed that the flaps were set correctly, and that the remaining engine was spitting out every pound of thrust it could muster.

"Make the calls to ATC please"

My First Officer made a simulated mayday radio call to Air Traffic Control, then did a simulated briefing on our simulated passengers, something along the lines of "Ladies and gentlemen, we had an engine indication on takeoff so we are going to return to the airport and get it checked out. Please keep your seatbelts on and remove any sharp objects from around your person. Once we land, we have asked for firetrucks to follow us down the runway, so don't be alarmed if you see them. It's a totally normal procedure" -- our aim is to keep the pax informed, but also to keep them from panicking. We do enough panicking up front during times like this :)

Then we climbed in silence for a couple of minutes, up to 1,500' above ground. Once there, I stopped climbing the airplane and had the First Officer run the "engine fire on takeoff" checklist.

Well, actually that's what I had said I was going to do in the event of an engine failure/fire. In reality, I climbed to 2,000' above the ground before calling for the checklist. It was a brain-fart - 2,000' was the altitude that the control tower had assigned us before we took off, and my brain accepted that altitude as the one I was supposed to shoot for before levelling off and running the checklist.

Not a huge deal in this airplane, but it could have been worse in another plane, and I got spanked for it, earning my "2" on my ride report.

You see, in this plane, an engine fire is kind of a big deal, but it's also kind of not a big deal. In our 550's, the engines are attached to the rear fuselage of the airplane. If the engine burns for long enough, all that's going to happen is that it will melt off the engine mounts and fall off the plane - the rest of the plane will still be perfectly flyable.

In the MU-2's I flew, the engines are buried within the actual wing of the airplane, so if an engine kept burning, it could easily cause the wing to burn off, which would end the flight in a dramatic and messy manner, so putting out the fire was a much more pressing concern.

Anyhoo, there we were at 2,000' with the engine burning. Again, not a real big deal. I pushed back a plastic cover that protected a big red button, and pushed the button. The button does 5 different things, but the jist of it is that it closes the fuel valve to that engine, and arms the fire extinguishers.

We have 2 engine fire extinguishers on our 550, and either or both of them can be directed into either or both engines.

I pushed a small white button which dumped the pressurized nitrogen gas from the bottle into the burning engine. The First Officer started a timer, and we waited for 30 seconds to see if the fire went out. After 30 seconds, the engine fire light was still on, so I dumped the second fire bottle into the burning engine, and the red light that indicates and engine fire finally went out.

The First Officer ran through the rest of the checklist and secured the engine while I turned the plane around toward the airport. We set up for an ILS landing to minimums, and I briefed the First Officer on the ILS approach, and on what we'd do if the weather was such that we wouldn't be able to land, and would have to go around and try again.

The simulator operator had set the weather to the absolute lowest limits that we are allowed to operate in, and a few seconds before we would have had to overshoot, we saw the runway and landed.

I stopped on the runway and asked the simulated air traffic control if he could talk to the simulated fire trucks and confirm that our simulated fire was out. He said it was, and that was that.

"Okay boys, that exercise is over. We have a few things to talk about, but overall it was well done. Now the sim operator is going to reset the sim and we will move on to the next phase of the checkride."

The Transport Canada Inspector sat back in his seat, and we set up for the next exercise.

The rest of the checkrides went fine, although I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the 3 1/2th one.

The TC guy spanked me for climbing 500' higher than I said I would before starting the engine fire checklist, then he signed off my license for another year. After 7 1/2 hours in the sim, I was re-certified to fly the plane.

//For what it's worth, in the entire Cessna 550 fleet of thousands of jets all over the world, there have been exactly ZERO engine fires in the air reported. Ever. But practicing these emergency scenarios will help us react appropriately should I ever draw the short straw and become the first Captain ever to have to deal with one. And that's a good thing for my passengers, and for me.//

1 comment:

Pedro said...

One 2 won't do you harm, as we only learn from our mistakes :) congrats!