What would you do?

PhotoPilot

New Member
You're in a light twin engine trainer at 2000 feet, solid IMC from 1300 to 3300, and you've just gone missed on a practice approach at a local uncontrolled airport that's about 5 minutes flight time from your controlled home field. As you enter the published hold, your electric turn coordinator stops working. Vaccum gyros (AI and DG) are fine as far as you know. What do you do?
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Fly the plane. Get clearance to climb into VMC in the published hold. Double check the electrical switches/CBs/electrical indicators/other electrical instruments in a cursory flow.

Still fly the plane. Fly an approach, land.

All general info based on the general scenario.
 

PhotoPilot

New Member
Maybe I should be more specific:

- You've already done a flow check and failed-equipment trouble shooting, both of which confirmed that the TC is the problem. It is working very sporadically and is far from reliable.

- Your first priority is to fly the plane.

- What do you tell ATC - nothing, inform them, or declare an emergency?

- Where do you go: Home field (10 minutes) or missed approach field (5 minutes)?

- ATC won't give you lower until you're established on an approach. Do you climb above knowing that you will then have to come back down through it to land or do you go to the nearest approach and decend below the ceilings as published on that approach?
 

mtsu_av8er

Well-Known Member
Given that additional information, I'd hold in VMC and do a thorough approach briefing, and determine that the weather is suitable for an approach to landing. I'd declare an emergency and advise ATC as to the nature of said emergency, requesting vectors onto the final approach course. I'd head home. If everything else is working properly, and I've got 1300 ft below the clouds, I' d very carefully execute an approach into my home base.

One other question - what type of approaches are available at each airport? Radar service? If there's an ILS or VOR to the home field, that makes my decision even that much more concrete.
 

PhotoPilot

New Member
VOR DME and NDB approaches into the closer, uncontrolled airport (just under class C airspace). You just came off of the VOR DME and all radios and radials are ready to go right back into it.

VOR DME, ILS, and LOC approaches available into the home airport that is slightly farther away and a controlled class C.

You're very familiar with both airports and their approaches.
 

Josh

Well-Known Member
Well, since you're out there, I'll assume for you, home is FAT. I'd do what I could to get back there.

As others have said, fly the plane first.
Then, second, fly the plane.
Third, fly the plane.
Then, pull out the sticky note you have handy, cover the failed instrument, so you don't read false readings on accident. You do keep sticky notes with your, right?
Out in the valley there, I'm assuming tule fog, so not all that cold, so no worries about icing.
When you are ready to talk, and have the plane in control, inform ATC of the situation, and the request to climb into VMC to verify vac inst are good since you seem to feel the need. Also, have them verify the reading they show for your altitude.
Personally, at that height, I'd do "turn coordinator inop, request lower if possible." You know it is all valley out there, they give a heading, and alt to go to, and you are back VFR below the stuff, since you are only a few seconds from it. Non-mountainous areas are only 1000' of clearance, and you should have that by the time you get down into VFR. If they won't give that, then go for the "request higher to confirm systems in VFR conditions" mentioned above. That's just me, because I know there is nothin' out in the valley there. Situational awareness though. If you don't know where you are, get VFR if you can, and find where you are on VFR and IFR charts. Review the approach you want, and go from there. The guys in the FAT tower are great to work with. Second only to maybe the SJC tower folks in my experience.

So was this a real situation, or just a, 'what if'. If real, let us all know what you did. If not, let us know what you would have done had it been real for you.

Josh
 

PhotoPilot

New Member
Thanks for all the answers! It's very interesting to see what everyone would or wouldn't do in that situation.

Josh is right on - FAT is my home field and FCH is the smaller field that is close by. This scenario happened a few days ago while my instructor and I were shooting practice approaches. As soon as it happened, I kept flying the plane (MOST important thing!) and running through flow checks and trouble shooting proceedures. While I was doing that, my instructor called ATC, declared an emergency, requested lower and was denied, and then requested vectors back to the approach that we'd gone missed on at FCH. We landed there about 5 minutes after the TC went out. We then did a very thourough instrument check on the ground and asked ATC to let us come back to FAT below the IMC at 1300. They agreed, vectoring us out and around the downtown area.

Had I been in the plane alone, I think I would have informed ATC of the situation and asked to come back to FAT. My instructor felt that it was better to declare the emergency before we lost vaccum gyros and to get on the ground where it was safer to trouble shoot asap since we had a very nearby option.

I don't think either one of us was wrong in our assessment, but I'm wondering if I should have been more cautious. He definitely played his cards in the safest way. Either way, it was a great learning experience!
 

chperplt

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
My instructor felt that it was better to declare the emergency before we lost vaccum gyros and to get on the ground

[/ QUOTE ]

If you lost an electric instrument, what made you think you would be losing your vaccum instrument next?? One system has nothing to do with the other.

Also, is the loss of a turn coordinator such a big deal? You still had an AI, Alt, VSI, and HI. Hop into a Beech 1900 D and try and find the turn coordinator... There isn't one there. We still went out and flew instruments just fine.
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
I think his point was if he had lost the vacuum, they'd have been in even bigger trouble. I agree that loss of a turn coordinator isn't a huge deal, but if it happened in IMC, I too would probably play it safe, delcare an emergency and get on the ground.

A Beech 1900 has a little more systems redundency than your average light twin. You're comparing apples to oranges.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
Back in my day, boy, we did partial panel with nothing but manifold pressure and a hobbs meter....
[sarcasm]

There's any number of ways to handle this situation. The method the CFI used worked, so it's obviously one of the good ways. Going back to the home field, IMO, would've been fine too.

I'd caution on this though, you mention running through flows over and over.....watch out when single-pilot that you don't overwork/overanalyze a problem that might not be serious, to the detriment of flying the plane if you happen to concentrate on some part of the analysis. Example, if I lose my left generator while airborne, I can cycle the rocker switch up to three times as well as reset the CB in the cockpit. Right generator, I can do the same, but the CB is located in the nose, so once I run the checklist (all of one step) for that item, my analysis is done, nothing more to do if it doesn't come on line.

Remaining below the WX is an option and could be a good option, but you've got to consider what the viz is below the ceiling. If it's 1 mile and FG, you're probably better off climbing into VMC, since below the ceiling, it's IMC for your practical purposes on working an EP, especially if partial panel. Better to climb and get you eggs in one basket, than tool around down low in marginal and end up spatial-D close to the ground. If it's a ceiling with 10+ on the viz, of course staying under could be a great option, terrain depending.

There's many ways to accomplish this scenario depending on the variables involved. More info next time boy!
 

PhotoPilot

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
I think his point was if he had lost the vacuum, they'd have been in even bigger trouble. I agree that loss of a turn coordinator isn't a huge deal, but if it happened in IMC, I too would probably play it safe, delcare an emergency and get on the ground.


[/ QUOTE ]

Thank you, ESF. That was exactly my point. We had no reason to suspect that we would lose our vacuum gyros, but if we had, a significant part of our instrumentation redundancy would have been lacking. I recognize that the TC isn't a normally critical instrument, but for partial panel in IMC in a PA-44, it can be worth its weight in gold.

And, in terms of time frame, MikeD, I noted that the turn coordinator seemed to be malfunctioning, cross referenced the other instruments to confirm, did one standard flow check, and checked the CBs, master, alternators, and alternator switches (making sure to fly the plane during all of this). It was probably 20 seconds of checking, tops. In that time, my instructor had done the same, and already keyed the mike to call ATC. If I came across as doing the same check over and over, I miscommunicated.

But, as I have said before, this is what makes JC so great! Thanks to all for your thoughts.
I love this place!
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
[And, in terms of time frame, MikeD, I noted that the turn coordinator seemed to be malfunctioning, cross referenced the other instruments to confirm, did one standard flow check, and checked the CBs, master, alternators, and alternator switches (making sure to fly the plane during all of this). It was probably 20 seconds of checking, tops. In that time, my instructor had done the same, and already keyed the mike to call ATC. If I came across as doing the same check over and over, I miscommunicated.

But, as I have said before, this is what makes JC so great! Thanks to all for your thoughts.
I love this place!

[/ QUOTE ]

Doing the same check over and over was what it seemed you were saying, but that wasn't all that bad from how you wrote it. I was just throwing out a general "watch out" caution for things that I myself have done in my career, but have lived to learn from. Might help in someone else's bag of tricks someday.

Mike
 

jonnyb

Well-Known Member
I can understand why your instructor did what he did. The only thing that wasn't necessary was declaring an emergency. This was not, by any means, an emergency situation. To minimize workload (this is, of course, just my opinion based on experience), I would have informed ATC of my failed equipment and requested vectors to the ILS at FAT. Personally, unless it's absolutely necessary, I disagree with climbing up to VFR cond. It's an unnecessary step which makes a rather simple solution more complicated.

All this said, you guys took care of the situation and everything turned out fine, and that's great. Great experience huh?!
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
IPersonally, unless it's absolutely necessary, I disagree with climbing up to VFR cond. It's an unnecessary step which makes a rather simple solution more complicated.



[/ QUOTE ]

Depends on the situation. Finding/maintaing VFR will help keep the workload down while working a contingency, or checklist, etc. I wouldn't go 40 miles out of my way to do that, mind you, but if it's a few thousand feet of climb, or a few miles away, I have no problem with it. Having no right seat/back seat baggage to read off checklists for me, I'm all for keeping the workload as low as possible. I have no desire to be close to terrra-firma during an abnormal event if I don't have to, and a simple climb to clear isn't that complicated of a maneuver.
 

jonnyb

Well-Known Member
Good point Mike. However, like you said, it depends on the problem and aircraft type/crew situation etc. For the issue being discussed, I don't think it's necessary. Just my opinion. Take care of yourself over there Mike and thanks.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
Good point Mike. However, like you said, it depends on the problem and aircraft type/crew situation etc. For the issue being discussed, I don't think it's necessary. Just my opinion.

[/ QUOTE ]

Your opinion is perfectly valid, and I agree it's situation dependant. The method in which they handled the situation, remaining under the WX as you suggested, validated itself in that he's here to relate it to us. Tons of ways to skin the cat.

Appreciate the good words. Can't wait to get back home to some semblance of normalcy.
 

jonnyb

Well-Known Member
Thanks Mike. Hang in there man. We wouldn't be here today, living the way we do, without the sacrifice and bravery of you and your brothers and sisters.
 

stalled

New Member
1 tell atc your of failure, no emergency

2 TC is out whoopti doo....10% of airspeed plus 5 will give you a standard rate turn

3 land at whichever airport you want
 
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