The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is seeking to clarify with operators of the twin-engine Cessna 441 aircraft the recommended procedures for conducting simulated engine failure exercises with a view of removing any doubt as to how the aircraft’s manufacturer, Textron, believes these types of exercises should be safely and effectively conducted.
The intent of the clarification is to further reduce the risk of a repeat occurrence of the fatal loss of control and collision with terrain accident near Renmark Airport, South Australia on 30 May 2017 involving a Cessna 441. The subsequent ATSB investigation of this accident (AO-2017-057) found that control was lost during a simulated engine failure after take-off exercise that was conducted at a significantly lower height above the ground than the 5,000 ft recommended in the Cessna 441 pilot’s operating handbook. This meant that there was insufficient available height to recover control before the aircraft collided with terrain.
Following discussion with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority regarding its interpretation of the manufacturer’s recommended procedures for conducting simulated engine failure exercises, the ATSB contacted Textron for clarification and were advised by the manufacturer that all single-engine training and checking procedures should be conducted at a minimum of 5,000 ft above ground level.
“The Cessna 441 pilot’s operating handbook (POH) recommends that all single engine training procedures should be practiced to enable pilots to master the response to an engine failure/single-engine operation condition and to learn the aircraft’s handling qualities under such circumstances,” ATSB Director, Transport Safety Stuart Macleod said.
“Training and checking in these manoeuvres are valid, but to ensure an adequate safety margin, those demonstrations are to be conducted at a safe altitude – a minimum of 5,000 ft above ground level – rather than during or shortly after take-off.”
Textron advised the ATSB that Crew Training One Engine Inoperative Procedures specifically allow the pilot to develop their skills and understanding of the aircraft's handling qualities at a minimum speed of VSSE (with a margin above VMCA). The VMCA demonstration is a maximum skill-level manoeuvre which is intended to be explored only after mastery of the other procedures. The manufacture also said with respect to all procedures and expanded discussions that are specific to training/practice, that pilots should precisely follow steps identified in the POH. The procedures referenced on pages 3-4 and 3-25 are specific to the occurrence of an actual emergency, and not a training scenario.
Mr Macleod said it is expected that pilots of twin-engine aircraft receive proper training from a qualified instructor with respect to the potential for loss of control and how it is mitigated following an engine failure or when operating single-engine for any reason.
"This instruction should include the development of thorough familiarity with the appropriate procedures, proper responses to the commanded steps within a procedure, and training to mastery,” Mr Macleod said.
While the focus of this messaging is aimed towards Cessna 441 operators, the ATSB also encourages operators of other twin-engine aircraft types to take this opportunity to review their own simulated engine failure training procedures.