EMERGENCY DESCENT

Emergency Descent Lesson by wifiCFI


Objective

To determine that the applicant exhibits satisfactory knowledge, risk management, and skills associated with an Emergency Descent.

Knowledge

The applicant demonstrates understanding of: 

Situations that require an emergency descent (e.g., depressurization, smoke, and/or engine fire). 

Immediate action items and emergency procedures. 

Airspeed, to include airspeed limitations.

Risk Management

The applicant demonstrates the ability to identify, assess and mitigate risks, encompassing: 

Failure to consider altitude, wind, terrain, obstructions, and available glide distance. 

Collision hazards, to include aircraft, terrain, obstacles, and wires. 

Improper aircraft configuration. 

Distractions, loss of situational awareness, and/or improper task management.

Emergency Descent (AFH C17)

An emergency descent is a maneuver for descending as rapidly as possible to a lower altitude or to the ground for an emergency landing.

The need for this maneuver may result from an uncontrollable fire, a sudden loss of cabin pressurization, or any other situation demanding an immediate and rapid descent. 

The objective is to descend the airplane as soon and as rapidly as possible within the structural limitations of the airplane. 

Simulated emergency descents should be made in a turn to check for other air traffic below and to look around for a possible emergency landing area. 

A radio call announcing descent intentions may be appropriate to alert other aircraft in the area. 

When initiating the descent, a bank of approximately 30 to 45° should be established to maintain positive load factors (G forces) on the airplane.

Performing the Maneuver

Except when prohibited by the manufacturer, the power should be reduced to idle, and the propeller control (if equipped) should be placed in the low pitch (or high revolutions per minute (rpm)) position. 

This allows the propeller to act as an aerodynamic brake to help prevent an excessive airspeed buildup during the descent. 

The landing gear and flaps should be extended as recommended by the manufacturer. 

This provides maximum drag so that the descent can be made as rapidly as possible, without excessive airspeed. 

The pilot should not allow the airplane’s airspeed to pass the never-exceed speed (VNE), the maximum landing gear extended speed (VLE), or the maximum flap extended speed (VFE), as applicable. 

In the case of an engine fire, a high airspeed descent could blow out the fire.

Private Pilot ACS Standards

Clear the area. 

Establish and maintain the appropriate airspeed and configuration appropriate to the scenario specified by the evaluator and as covered in POH/AFM for the emergency descent. 

Demonstrate orientation, division of attention and proper planning. 

Use bank angle between 30° and 45° to maintain positive load factors during the descent. 

Commercial Pilot ACS Standards

Clear the area. 

Establish and maintain the appropriate airspeed and configuration appropriate to the scenario specified by the evaluator and as covered in POH/AFM for the emergency descent. 

Demonstrate orientation, division of attention and proper planning. 

Use bank angle between 30° and 45° to maintain positive load factors during the descent. 

Maintain appropriate airspeed +0/-10 knots, and level off at specified altitude, +/- 100 feet

Complete the appropriate checklist. 

FAA Sources Used for This Lesson

Private Pilot Airmen Certification Standards

Commercial Pilot Airmen Certification Standards

Airplane Flying Handbook (AFH) Chapter 17

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