You’ve lost your engine. Now what?

You’ve lost your Engine

First, AVIATE. Establish your best glide speed.


Try to let ATC know you’re having an emergency. First, squawk 7700. If you’re in radar contact, that will light up ATC’s radar scopes. At that point, they’ll start tracking you and getting emergency response ready.

Also, you want to talk to ATC if you can. So what frequency should you use?

There are a couple you can start with. If you don’t know what Center or Flight service frequencies are available where you are, start with a radio call on the universal emergency guard frequency of 121.5. 121.5 is meant for aircraft in distress, and most ATC facilities monitor the frequency.

If you’re within range of ATC, they’ll hopefully hear you. Many airline and corporate jets monitor guard frequency as well, so if you can’t reach ATC, there’s a good chance you can reach a jet flying above you, and they can relay information back and forth to ATC.

And if none of that works, you can always try the universal Flight Service frequency of 122.2.

 Selecting A Landing Site: Airport

Once you have established your best glide indicated airspeed, you need to find a place to land.

You really have two choices, and the first choice of the two is to land at an airport if you can. The last choice of the two is to land somewhere else.

If have GPS on board, whether it’s panel mounted or an EFB like ForeFlight, the “Nearest Airport” function gives you a quick list of nearby airports.

Once you pick an airport and go “direct to” it, you’ll know your distance to the runway. The next question is: can you get there? That’s where some quick mental math comes in.

Mooneys have a great wing and typically glide about 2 nautical miles per thousand feet. So, if you’re 4,000 feet above the ground, you’ll be able to glide 8 nautical miles before touching the ground.

You should always look at your POH maximum glide chart to make sure of your glide ratio

If you have ForeFlight’s new “Glide Advisor” feature, that can tell you even faster what you’re within gliding distance of.

When you set up “Glide Advisor in ForeFlight, bear in mind that Mooneys are typically 11 to 1.


Get one, please.

Approaching The Airport

As you get close to the airport, you need to plan your landing, and that’s going to start by choosing a runway. There are a few ways you can do it. If you know the ASOS frequency, you can dial it in and pick up the winds. And if you’re in a position where you’re circling over the airport at altitude, you can look at the wind sock.

If you’re talking with ATC, they can be a great help.

Getting Ready For a Runway Touchdown

As you approach the airport, if you have enough altitude, you want to circle down over top of the airport. That keeps you close to the runway, and lets you set up for a normal landing.

At about 1,000′ AGL, you want to enter downwind for the runway, and you want to keep your pattern tight, because you only have one shot to make the runway.

You also need to pick an aiming point for touchdown, so you know when to turn your base leg.

 A good way to pick an aiming point is to visually split the runway into thirds, and aim for the point where the first and second thirds meet. That will help you make sure you don’t end up short of the runway, but that you still have plenty of room to stop.

As you’re abeam your aiming point, you’ll turn base. At this point, you also want to start flying you normal pattern speeds. As long as the runway is assured, you’ll add partial flaps as well.

As you turn final, you want to figure out how you’re looking for a glide path to the runway. Keep in mind that you’ll be higher than a normal 3-degree glide path, but you’re also descending much faster because you don’t have power.

At this point, you want to aim for your touchdown point, one-third down the runway.

If the point is moving down in the windshield, it means you’re high, and it’s probably time to add more flaps or slip to lose altitude. But you want to keep in mind that you need to be absolutely sure you’ll make the runway before you add flaps.

And if your aim point is moving up in the windshield, it means you’re getting low on glide path, and you shouldn’t add any more flaps until you’re sure you’ll make the runway.

As you cross the threshold, you need to focus your attention on a safe touchdown. You’re still aiming for the touchdown point, but if you’re high and fast, it’s better to land a few hundred feet beyond the touchdown point, than it is to force the airplane on the landing spot.

 Selecting A Landing Site: Off Airport

If you can’t glide to an airport, you need to pick the next best thing. And most of the time, you have quite a few options.

When you’re preparing for a power-off landing, there are two things you need to consider to make your landing survivable.

First, you need to keep the cockpit and cabin as intact as possible by using dispensable parts of the plane, like the wings, landing gear and bottom of the fuselage to slow you down during landing.

And second, you need to prevent your body from hitting the inside of the cockpit during touchdown, by making sure your seat belt is tight.

Most GA airplanes are designed to protect you at up to 9 Gs of forward acceleration.

Look at these examples: if you’re flying at 50 MPH, the required stopping distance at a 9 G deceleration is about 9.4 feet.

And if you’re flying at 100 MPH, the required stopping distance at a 9 G deceleration is about 37.6 feet.

Think about that for a minute: 37 feet isn’t a lot of required stopping distance in a survivable crash. In fact, it’s just a little bit longer than the fuselage length of your plane.



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