In this blog series, we have covered engine starts, taxi checks, run-up checks and more. Now it’s time to run through the final flight procedures for our perfect flight departure process and take to the skies!
Use this acronym
The proper acronym that applies whenever holding short is TMPFISCH, and it is what I usually use for my operations here in Hong Kong. It goes like this:
- T – Trims set to the appropriate take-off position
- M – Mixture rich, master on and magnetos on both
- P – Primer in and locked (or fuel pump off)
- F – Fuel is sufficient for the coming flight and flaps are set
- I – Instruments’ Ts and Ps are in the green range
- S – Switches (landing and strobe lights on)
- C – Controls full and free
- H – Hatches secure and harnesses secure
When you do your controls part of this departure check, make sure your box the controls. That means to move the controls in a movement of a box and ensure you have still got adequate freedom of movement. You might have a mile-long taxi, and something might have jammed the controls. Never skip this check as part of your flight departure process and procedures.
Deliver your safety brief
You can do the EFATO brief (Engine Failure After Take-Off brief) at any stage before the take-off, but I typically do it after run-ups. A typical brief should describe the actions that need to happen in the event of an engine failure at particular stages of the flight, such as:
- during take-off
- after rotation
- below 200 feet and with runway remaining
- above 200 feet with no runway remaining
- above 700 feet.
The brief goes something like this:
“If we have an engine failure on the ground, we stay on the ground. If we have an engine failure below 200 feet, we land on the remaining runway. If we have an engine failure above 200 feet, we land straight ahead or 30 degrees to the side. If we have an engine failure above 700 feet, we will turn back to find runway X.”
On a standard Cessna or Sling, 700 feet is plenty for a runway turn-back manoeuvre. However, during the turn back you MUST lower the nose to maintain airspeed and limit the angle of bank to 45 degrees. Never attempt a runway turn-back if an engine failure occurs below 700 feet!
Let’s rock and roll
Oh yes! You are lined up on the runway. You are oh so excited! This rush of sensations is typical for any pilot—it is precisely why we love flying. However, discipline must be maintained during our flight departure process.
Ensure you are on the correct runway by looking at your directional gyro, which will indicate the proper runway heading. It’s also a good practice to cross-check this reading with the magnetic compass as well. After that, you should triple-check with making sure that the runway numbers are indeed the intended runway. Everything checks out? Good.
Now the take-off roll can begin. Ensure that your heels are on the floor and that you are controlling rudders only with the balls of your feet; this will ensure that you do not inadvertently apply the brakes! After you complete this, you should use full power—smoothly but with purpose—and count three, one-thousands before going all the way with to full strength.
After full power is applied, check on the RPM. They should be reading at or above the stated minimum static full-throttle RPM. At this stage, you should also check the oil temperatures and pressures and ensure that these are still sitting within the green range. Finally, you should check to ensure that the airspeed indicator is ‘alive’, meaning that it is indicating an acceleration.
At rotation speed, gradually apply back pressure and lift the nose wheel off the ground, allow the aircraft to fly off the runway and then adopt a Vy (best rate of climb) attitude to ensure maximum climb performance. Look outside! Once you are above 300 feet AGL and obstacles are cleared, move the flaps to up and auxiliary fuel pump (if applicable) to off. You should once again check the oil temperatures and pressures.
The result of following this? Another safe and beautiful flight.
Keep it up
I hope this blog series has sparked a conversation and encouraged you to pay closer attention to flight departure process and the nuances and intricacies of this crucial stage of flight. As pilots, we tend to always talk about the perfect landing. How about discussing the ideal departure?
That’s it for now. As always, have fun and fly safe! Don’t forget to book in your next round of flight training with Learn to Fly Melbourne so you put my tips to good use.
Contributed by Learn to Fly student, Howard Lau.