Practical Flying Advice From a Pro – Steve Taylor

Editors Note: I hope to get more from this author. This is an unusual interview from a pilot. I had to laugh at his answer to the gross weight question- that would be my reply too.

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You find your co-pilot drinking before a flight, how will you handle this? He must be replaced. There is no compromise here.

You smell smoke in the cockpit, what initial action should you take? I guess that what some might be looking for here is, don the oxygen mask, however, this is not an immediate necessity with just the smell of smoke.

If you are on the ground, return to the gate unless the smoke becomes severe. Then, of course you would consider evacuating. If in flight and the smoke has an electrical oder and the smoke is not visible, then you scan everything in the cockpit to see if you can identify anything unusual, paying particular attention to the area of the electrical compartment and circuit breaker panels. The key here is to trip all circuit breakers that are of suspicion and not necessary for flight.

There is also the possibility of the smell coming from the air condition duct. If that is the case, this can also be isolated. It would also be instructive to see if any of the flight attendants had smelled smoke.

Then what do you do? If the smoke becomes visible and no solution is evident then oxygen masks should be used and an emergency declared, landing at the nearest suitable airport.

Your co-pilot tells you the smoke is normal and it will clear itself, 15 minutes later the condition is growing worse. Your co-pilot gives you the same response. Now, what would you do? This kinda gets into the area of, if smoke is normal then no smoke must be abnormal. I think it’s a good idea to always listen to the explanation from either the copilot or the engineer but ultimately the decision is yours.

The aircraft is loaded way beyond gross weight. Your co-pilot tells you that he does this all the time, and the aircraft will fly. What do you do? Of course, this is a ridiculous question. Any responsible Capt. does not fly an over grossed airplane. I have a story in my book about this very situation.

You have been cleared for take-off, upon getting airborne with the gear in the wells, what kind of conversation are you going to have with your co-pilot? Most copilots learn best from observing good captain decisions. Usually it is not necessary or desirable to give too much instruction. Professional flying is a function of practice and experience. You should not deny your copilot the opportunity to learn in this time honored way. However, he might be told that you appreciate any information, but he should temper his advice.

What is V1? V1 is a calculated speed based temperature, runway condition and the aircraft weight, at which a take off can be continued to an altitude of 35 feet with an engine loss in the same length of runway that is necessary to stop the airplane in case the decision is made to abort. In short this is the go no go point for an engine loss.

I see you flying various twins, do they all have a critical engine? In a twin-engine Jet, for all practical purposes there is no critical engine. The last airplane I flew that had this situation was C-119 box car. It had reciprocating engines and actually there was a point at Max gross weight where it would not fly with an engine failure. I had 3000 hours in C-130. This airplane was a turboprop with constant speed propellers. One might think that some P factor could cause a critical engine situation, however it was a four engine airplane and this was not a noticeable thing compared to the loss of an outboard engine. This critical engine thing is mostly theory and of little practical value. If an engine fails the pilot generally puts in the necessary aileron and rudder to keep the airplane flying and doesn’t really notice that much difference in which engine it is.

Which one’s do not, and why? If you have an aircraft with counterrotating props then there is no critical engine and as I have already mentioned, jet engines.

Can you define Balanced Field Length? The length of runway necessary to reach V1, lose an engine and stop at Max gross weight.

You’re the PIC on one a Lear, you’re taking off on a 13,000′ runway with clear skies and unlimited visibility, upon getting airborne you have an emergency and the co-pilot calls out that there’s a problem. With 11,000 feet of runway still in front of you, and the gear still down, what would you do? This is a judgment call. In theory, after V1 is achieved, the airplane is supposed to take off, however, as illustrated by the following story, the captain’s best judgment always prevails: I had a friend flying captain on a DC-9. Right at lift off and after achieving V1 and VR, he had a double engine compressor stall. He glanced at his engine instruments and saw the RPM unwinding. Thinking he had a double engine flameout, he put the airplane back on the runway and ran into the dirt at the overrun. The FAA tried to take his license, but at the hearing it was determined that the captain’s best judgment trumps the V1 rule.

“Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age” is available now from Amazon

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