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3 Answers

Simulated engine failure – power idle vs. engine shutdown

Asked by: 2589 views Aircraft Systems, General Aviation, Student Pilot

During my flight training I practice in-flight engine failure by setting power to idle. Are there any significant differences between that and shutting down the engine completely? Am I going to be surprised by something when a real failure happens to me?

3 Answers

  1. Kris Kortokrax on Oct 15, 2014

    If you are training in a single engine airplane, you should not shut down the engine. You would be creating an emergency situation and a potential accident. Yes, it would be a surprise to you if a real failure happens. That is why it is better to let your instructor initiate a failure when you are not expecting it.

    If you are training in a multi-engine airplane, the method of simulating an engine failure depends upon altitude. At some point in the training, you will need to demonstrate that you can completely shut down an engine, maneuver the plane with the engine shut down and then restart the failed engine.

    While you can certainly pull the power to idle and practice spiraling down over a potential landing site or gliding to a potential landing site from altitude, a more realistic simulation would have your flight instructor simulating the engine failure and observing your reaction to the failure. If you plan to practice simulated engine failures, you should make your instructor aware of your intentions and get his concurrence before practicing by yourself.

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  2. Gary on Oct 18, 2014

    Hi, David. In a real engine stoppage, of course the prop will stop. The glide angle will be steeper because the stopped prop will produce more drag than a windmilling prop. Look at your poh and I think it will indicate the glide data was flight tested with a windmilling prop.

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  3. Kris Kortokrax on Oct 18, 2014


    You are wrong on both counts.

    1. The prop will not stop if the engine quits, unless the engine seizes. It will continue to windmill unless the pilot slows the airplane to a point where the prop will stop turning.

    2. There is less drag with a stopped prop, not more. It takes energy to keep the prop windmilling against the compression of the engine. This causes substantial drag.

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