The ATSB is urging pilots of single-engine aircraft to plan for partial power loss, following the release of a new educational video.

Between 2000 and 2010, there were nine fatal accidents resulting in 20 people losing their lives as a result of a response to a partial power loss soon after takeoff. Importantly, there were no fatal accidents where the engine initially completely failed.

ATSB research manager Dr Stuart Godley says the high number of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from partial power loss should be of concern to pilots and flight instructors.

“Historically, the simulated total loss of power and subsequent practice forced landing has been the core of a pilot’s emergency training,” Dr Godley says. “However, our accident data shows that for single engine aircraft, a partial power loss during and after takeoff is three times more likely to occur than a complete engine failure.”

While partial power loss can be more challenging to manage—due to the number of choices and decisions confronting the pilot—Dr Godley says that the lack of training, coupled with the lack of pilot preparation and planning, may also help explain the higher number of fatalities.

“Total engine failure after takeoff is part of the Day VFR syllabus and is taught and practiced throughout a pilot’s initial training. However, partial power loss after takeoff is not a practiced syllabus item and probably does not receive the same emphasis during training.

“A pre-flight briefing for both a complete engine failure and partial power loss is the key to a pilot maintaining control of their aircraft.” says Dr Godley.

The new short video, available on the ATSB’s YouTube channel (ATSBinfo) provides pilots and flight instructors advice on how to manage the dangers surrounding partial power loss in single engine aircraft.

More information about managing partial power loss in single-engine aircraft is also available in the ATSB’s avoidable accident booklet, Managing partial power loss after takeoff in single-engine aircraft.

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