Pilot's tip of the week

Dangerous Practice?


Subscriber question:

“I read a report where a CFI and student were both killed when their aircraft struck a power line while the CFI was demonstrating a forced landing. My CFI has me take simulated forced landings uncomfortably low as well. Is this really necessary?”
– Andrew S.


Dangerous practice“I’m a big believer in realistic training, but clearly the risk versus reward in this case just doesn’t add up. If you want to effectively demonstrate a forced landing, do it to a runway.

I’ve heard of way too many accidents resulting from a Certified Flight Instructor taking a student too low on a forced landing demonstration. There’s just no downside to practicing to a runway and completing the landing. Use a grass strip if you want to really add some realism.

This also brings up another important item to me. Many folks think roads are good forced landing sites. I strongly discourage roads, first of all, because they can certainly endanger folks in cars, but also because most roads offer power lines as an additional hazard.

Consider the distractions facing the CFI as he demonstrates this maneuver. There is a lot going on during a forced landing, and maybe the CFI gave up a little bit of scanning outside in the interest of the lesson. Focus is very important, but never lose sight of the big picture. Where am I? And what outside the airplane just might hurt me?

Clearly this is an avoidable mishap. From my perspective, planning is the key to eliminating this type of accident. Choosing your (practice) forced landing site wisely will help you to maximize the benefit derived, while minimizing unnecessary risks.”

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