Passing

The follow up check ride to my failed multi-engine flight was uneventful. I had gone down on Wednesday, October 23rd and had yet another lesson with my instructor. We did three landings on a single engine, just flying the pattern around 25L at Long Beach. I did well on each of them, even the last one, where Zach messed with the power lever, pulling power from the failed engine, simulating a feathered propeller becoming unfeathered.

The following week, on Tuesday, October 29, I flew down in the morning and the Designated Private Examiner went over what had happened on the preview check ride. I just kept nodding and saying, “Sure, sure…” because it was not worth arguing about. I needed to just go out, do one good landing with him and then I was done.

He said it would be easier for me if we did one normal landing first. That seems like it just gave me more time in the plane to make a mistake, but I wasn’t going to disagree with anything at that point. After the normal landing we took off again and he failed the left engine. And even though I identified the engine, showed how I would secure it, he never moved the power lever up from the idle position. That was wrong, but I wasn’t going to argue with anything. I had already demonstrated the previous week that I was capable of flying around the pattern and landing with one of the engines pulled to idle.

We had an extended downwind because there was a JetBlue flight arriving. Long Beach is a busy airport with scheduled airlines, the maintenance facility for Gulfstream, military maintenance facilities, and a bunch of helicopter training. Since the examiner had not returned the proper 10% of thrust to the left engine, we stayed at pattern altitude limping along at 95kts. We were eventually allowed to turn and I used less than fifteen degrees of bank, as required for single engine operation. It was a little tricky to get the descent rate correct, and I might have delayed a little too long on deploying the last bit of flaps, but I put it down just past the numbers. As I brought the operating engine to idle there was a moment of yaw which I corrected with the rudder.

We came off the runway and I brought us to a stop. I had reached for the checklist as we were exiting the runway. Once I had done the few post-landing items he reached over to shake my hand (always awkward in a small plane cockpit, it’s tight in there). He said, “Congratulations, you are a multi-engine pilot.” He paused and then said, “It would be better to wait until you came to a stop before reaching for the check list, any distraction on the runway can cause you to make a mistake.”

Now I need to take a few flights in the Twinstar that are just for fun, so I can see what it is like to fly the plane in normal conditions, without having an engine shutdown.

About Colin Summers

I am an architect, programmer, private pilot, husband and father. A couple of those I am good at.
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3 Responses to Passing

  1. John says:

    Colin,

    I was surprised by your description of the examiner’s instructions for a simulated single-engine landing on your first flight test. To me, it seems the examiner gave you confusing instructions at a high workload moment.

    In my experience, the DA42 NG can become a real handful during landing with one prop windmilling, especially if the airspeed gets too slow and/or if LDG flaps are configured. Furthermore, a failed engine with a windmilling prop that cannot be feathered seems an unlikely occurance in the DA42.

    In the DA42 NG I teach no more than APP flaps with one engine failed and flaps UP if there is any doubt about sufficient performance. Not briefing you in advance of how he expected a single-engine landing to be handled seems a serious oversight on the DPE’s part. If your instructor uses this examiner regularly, it seems he could have better prepared you for what to expect. You were wise to not push the point with the DPE, I think, but still …

    Nevertheless, that’s all behind your now and congratulations are in order! The DA42 is a great airplane and I hope you enjoy your adventures flying it.

    John

  2. Ron Rapp says:

    I agree with John. It might help on future checkrides if you immediately speak up if anything is unclear or confusing to you. The examiner wants to you pass just as much as you do, and believe it or not you can really help them in achieving that goal! Knowing what I know now, if I’d been in the airplane I would have asked the examiner, “Do you want to set idle thrust on the ‘dead’ engine?”. He probably just forgot.

    Even in the King Air, which has far better performance than the DA42, we always limited our flaps to the approach setting with a dead engine until landing was very well assured, and even then it was optional. My philosophy was “why mess with it?” and I left the flaps at APP.

    Anyway, congrats on your new rating!

    • Colin says:

      He definitely didn’t forget. On the debrief he said that for him, throttle closed meant the engine was secured. We went around on it a little bit but in the end it wasn’t worth my time to correct him. I wish the flight school would step in and correct him in a definitive fashion, but I don’t think it is worth it for them, either. They should adjust their instruction accordingly, though.

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