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3 Answers

Training Autorotations and Emergency Engine Out Procedures

Asked by: 1390 views Helicopter

Hi folks. So to give a little background on myself... I received the majority of my helicopter flight training through the Army in a Bell 206 Jet Ranger. Everyday my instructor would surprise me at least once with a engine failure and roll the throttle off and Id go through the routine, set up, auto, yada yada and recover around 500'... This was a daily occurrence in my training. Now, here I am getting ready to begin instructing in an R44 Robinson and a gentleman I met who is a fellow instructor said he never "surprises" his students with engine out failures, and never practices autorotations outside a traffic pattern with a runway. So I was hoping to get some various input from some other folks and see whats commonly practiced on the civilian side of helicopter flight training. Is this the common practice and the more reasonable choice considering that many accidents happen while training this emergency procedure? Any and all input and discussion is welcomed and I appreciate the help.

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3 Answers



  1. Kris Kortokrax on Jan 14, 2016

    In the early stages, I don’t do unannounced simulated engine failures. The correct responses need to be learned first. Once the student is reacting correctly and consistently, then a simulated engine failure is fair game at any time. In the interest of self preservation, I make sure that I have a good place to go in case the engine really quits (I had this happen once in a Schweizer 300). I have done a lot of training in the Robinson R-22 (low inertia rotor) and simulated engine failures in this ship are different than in a 206 where I can leisurely reach down, grasp the collective and lower it to enter an autorotation.

    I have flown with instructors who initiate a simulated engine failure by loudly stating “Engine failure” to the student. This does nothing to condition the student to react to the change in engine sound and yaw that happens during a real engine failure.

    My belief is that if an instructor is so frightened of performing simulated engine failures that he won’t roll off the throttle unannounced on a student, he should find a different line of work.

    I have attended the Bell factory school in the past and they routinely conduct unannounced simulated engine failures.

    As far as practice autos go, I generally prefer to conduct them at a place where I will have a hard surface available in case of a real engine failure (i.e. a runway). When selecting a target for the auto, I use the fixed distance marker. That way, if the student comes up short on the auto, we have a hard surface under us and not the approach lights.

    Hovering autos are another issue. I always practice these over a hard surface. There are those who believe that doing hover autos on the grass saves wear and tear on the skids. My theory is that skid shoes are cheaper than helicopters.

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  2. Abner on Mar 19, 2017

    Without a good repor with a student I wouldn\’t make an unannounced throttle chop. This whole thing can of course be discussed and briefed before the flight, and talk about expectations. Once I see a pilot can make the proper general motions, then I tell them they are fair game for n unannounced failure. As far as never doing this unannounced or never doing them outside the pattern, I\’d say you need a more experienced CFI. This isn\’t to say I would recommend forced landings over areas without a suitable place to land…. but as long as there is a place to go, this SHOULD and MUST be done outside the pattern. I was given power failures all the time outside the pattern around crappy terrain, but as an instructor you must have a suitable place to go when the student doesn\’t make the right decision. It forces you to evaluate terrain, find a place to go and make the spot. Nothing unsafe about it as long as the CFI has his/her back up plan.

    Now a note on the R22. In my younger days I probably did some unannounced failures, but it only takes a couple times to realize how stupid this is, in this helicopter. The R22 is too unforgiving of a non reaction or BAD reaction by the student. The 300CB, or a 206 etc. is another story. Much more intertia and stability. The R22 was NOT I say again… NOT designed as a trainer.

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  3. Abner on Mar 19, 2017

    I’m going to add this as well for some thought.. I’ve had more friends whose only accidents in their entire career was during training as a CFI. The training you’re doing and how far you push your limits as a CFI should never outweigh the risk of that failure ever happening at all. This is a difficult line to draw, but you usually know when it’s crossed. This is how you gain experience and knowledge unfortunately. My point is, some CFI’s get so creative trying to duplicate EP training to meet a real event and end up having the only accident of their career in the process. The opposite end of that is the CFI you’re flying with… who will only do announced autos in the pattern…… Find the middle ground. That CFI and student are less likely to have an accident training, but much less likely to survive and actual engine failure when it comes…………

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