Simulated engine failures in a Piper Warrior II (PA-28-161)

Practiced simulated engine failures with a friend today in a Piper Warrior II (PA-28-161). We decided to practice simulated engine failures with a 360 degree spiral down (starting at the edge of the runway), and 180 degree turn backs to the runway after takeoff. We tried different starting conditions and found the following results:

1) In this airplane, it is reasonable to start a 360 degree engine out spiral down to the runway when you are ~1100-1200 FT above the start of the runway (called the “high key” position), when at a starting speed of ~80 Knots or greater, while holding a bank around ~30 degrees, and holding a best glide speed of 73 Knots through the turn. You’ll hit the “low key” position around 700 FT above the ground when you are 180 degrees into the turn and can begin putting flaps in to steepen your decent and then perform a short field landing.

2) In this airplane, it is reasonable to start a 180 degree turn back to the runway in the event of an engine failure after takeoff starting at a best climb speed (Vy=79 knots), then turning at 30 degrees of bank, while holding best glide of 73 knots if you are at least ~900-1000 FT AGL when you lose your engine. If you are higher, you may need to perform a side slip to quickly lose some altitude.

This was a useful exercise for me, and I recommend my flying colleagues try this in their own airplane at an unpopulated airport so that you can be prepared for an engine out emergency and know your airplane’s minimum altitude and speed numbers to begin a turn in the event of this emergency.

(Warning: results may vary for your airplane based on its performance, weight and balance, atmospheric conditions, and winds. This post is not meant to be a recommendation of specific numbers but rather an encouragement to practice engine out emergencies yourself.)

Safe flying!