Part II — The Ground and Air Instruction Syllabus — Exercise 22 — Forced Landings


To teach the procedures to follow in the event of a power failure.


As required.

Essential Background Knowledge

(1)  Explain:

  1. Reasons why a forced landing may be necessary:
  1. fuel starvation — plugged fuel tank vents — fuel selector — primer unlocked;
  2. oil starvation;
  3. mechanical failure;
  4. carburettor icing;
  5. engine air intake blockage;
  6. other (impending power failure).

(2)  Outline actions to be followed in event of an engine failure:

  1. Control of aircraft — correct descending attitude — trim;
  2. Use of carburettor heat (simultaneous with (a));
  3. Selection of field — wind, altitude and surface conditions;
  4. Plan of approach — selection of key points;
  5. Power loss check — while heading to key point (fuel, fuel pumps, primer, carburettor heat, mixture, switches, etc.) — distress call — radio and/or transponder;
  6. Security check — passenger briefing (loose and hazardous objects, seat belts, exits, fuel, switches, personal objects, etc.);
  7. Final approach considerations;
  8. Touchdown planning;
  9. Use of brakes and other considerations during landing roll — controlled ground loop (if necessary).

(3)  Question student on main elements of the exercise and clarify as necessary.

Advice to Instructors

NOTE:  The key can be defined as some physical feature or features on the ground which are chosen to establish a near to normal base leg distance from a field that has been chosen for forced landing purposes. Base leg distance in this case must be well within the into-wind gliding range of the aircraft.

(1)  Key points are selected to assist the pilot to maintain a lateral distance from the landing area until sufficient altitude is lost and the proper approach angle achieved. This will prevent crowding of the field which may result in turns involving excessive angles of bank, and excessively high airspeeds over the boundary of the field.

(2)  The key points should be established on a line that is about the same distance from the landing area as the normal base leg for a glide approach, taking wind conditions into consideration.

(3)  Never allow a practice forced landing to become a real one through poor airmanship and improper engine handling. The student will be expected to demonstrate good airmanship by clearing the engine at appropriate intervals during the descent. The practice of leaving some power on and achieving a normal descent angle and airspeed by using flaps is acceptable.

(4)  Practice should be given at every opportunity — in the circuit, on overshoot, to and from the practice area, etc.

(5)  Normally, once approach flap has been extended, it is rarely necessary to descend below 500 feet on final. However, if a student is consistently under or overshooting, it may be necessary to continue the approach to a lower altitude when conditions permit, to prove that the approach was unsuccessful.

(6)  When traffic conditions permit at an aerodrome, give the student practice at an actual approach to a touchdown by closing the throttle at a suitable position in the circuit. Approach and landing judgement will improve considerably with this type of "for real" practice. The use of other authorized landing surfaces in a similar manner will add variety and interest to this exercise.

(7)  While losing height prior to commencing the final approach, all turns should normally be made in the direction of the field. Using the experience gained in the power-off descending exercises, teach the student to recognize the visual indications which confirm the point of touchdown.

(8)  This exercise is an excellent chance to apply the Learning Factors. Do not expect the student to perform all the various stages of a forced landing together at the start. Learning should be progressive as is pointed out in (1), (2) and (3) of the Air Instruction. Making the exercise too complicated precludes proper learning and progress. While the student is learning to fly an approach to a forced landing, the power loss and security checks can be carried out in their proper sequence by the instructor. The student can then progressively incorporate these checks as satisfactory approach proficiency is attained.

(9)  Make good use of the time spent while proceeding to and from flying practice areas to rehearse power loss checks and security checks. Suitable fields can be selected, and the key points located, thus giving better utilization of the time spent actually practising forced landings.

(10)  Simulated engine failures practised during take-off should be cleared with the Air Traffic Control unit in advance to avoid unnecessary concern.

(11)  During preparatory ground instruction draw a field on the chalkboard, give an altitude, and have the student draw and describe the path of flight to be followed in an actual exercise.

(12)  Approaches should be from different positions. The objective is to teach the student to arrive at the correct position, at the correct altitude, by the simplest method, and the method will depend on the circumstances.

(13)  Serious crowding of the field on base leg can be relieved by side-slipping away from the field; however, caution should be exercised if this is done as distance in relation to the field is rapidly increased and altitude is rapidly lost. If the slip is continued too long, an undershoot may result. When certain of getting into the field, use of flaps, side-slip, or slipping turn to lose surplus height and facilitate a touchdown in the first 1/3 of the selected landing surface, should be demonstrated.

(14)  Stress that this approach is not something new — it is a continuation of the descending exercises and of the use of judgement learned when flying the circuit, with respect to distance from the field and HOW FAR THE AIRCRAFT CAN GLIDE. Students training at airports where traffic density dictates continuous power assisted approaches will require more emphasis in this area. Therefore, any opportunity to practise a power-off approach to a landing should be utilized.


Some aircraft are fitted with combustion heaters which may constitute a fire hazard should the aircraft suffer structural failure on a landing. It is essential that such heater systems be switched off during the security checks.

Instruction and Student Practice

(1)  For the first demonstration approach (from 3,000 feet above ground level approximately) before the throttle is closed for the descent, demonstrate and have the student practise power loss checks, security checks, and radio procedure. When the student is reasonably proficient in these areas, then:

  1. Indicate wind direction;
  2. Point out field and key point to be used — explain reason for selection — wind direction and surface conditions;
  3. Simulate power failure;
  4. Simultaneously assume correct glide attitude, carburettor heat on and trim;
  5. Head for key point;
  6. Mention that power loss check, security check, and radio procedures would be conducted at this time;
  7. Briefly explain plan of approach and engine clearing/ warming procedures;
  8. Emphasize:
  1. constant angle of descent — correct airspeed/attitude;
  2. while losing height at the downwind end of the field, that the key point of the final base leg will be similar to the base leg at the home airport for a glide approach — drift or crab angle — correct distance from field boundary for existing wind velocity;
  3. recognition of visual indications of the point of touchdown while descending at a constant angle of descent;
  4. aiming point of touchdown — in first 1/3 of landing surface;
  5. final approach considerations — use of flaps, or side-slip, or slipping turns, to maximize use of the field available;
  6. demonstrate overshoot technique.

(2)  For student practice from approximately 3,000 feet above ground level for several approaches:

  1. Have student fly approaches, starting from easy situations, progressing to more complicated;
  2. Coach when necessary during each practice approach.

(3)  After several successful approaches by student under coaching:

  1. Simulate power failure without prior warning at various altitudes;
  2. Insist on proper selection of field and key point and appropriate checks as approach is being flown;
  3. Demand increasing accuracy.

(4)  Simulate power failure on overshoot, take-off, in the circuit, etc.

(5)  Never compromise safety.

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