Flight training in a multiengine airplane can be safely accomplished if both the instructor and the learner consider the following factors.

  • The participants should conduct a preflight briefing of the objectives, maneuvers, expected learner actions, and completion standards before the flight begins.
  • A clear understanding exists as to how simulated emergencies will be introduced, and what action the learner is expected to take.

The introduction, practice, and testing of emergency procedures has always been a sensitive subject. Surprising a multiengine learner with an emergency without a thorough briefing beforehand creates a hazardous condition. Simulated engine failures, for example, can very quickly become actual emergencies or lead to loss of the airplane when approached carelessly. Stall-spin accidents in training for emergencies rival the number of stall-spin accidents from actual emergencies. The training risk normally gets mitigated by a briefing. Pulling circuit breakers is not recommended for training purposes and can lead to a subsequent gear up landing.

Many normal, abnormal, and emergency procedures can be introduced and practiced in the airplane as it sits on the ground without the engines running. In this respect, the airplane is used as a procedures trainer. The value of this training may be substantial. The engines do not have to be operating for real learning to occur. Upon completion of a training session, care should be taken to restore items to their proper positions.

Pilots who do not use a checklist effectively will be at a significant disadvantage in multiengine airplanes. Use of the checklist is essential to safe operation of airplanes, and it is risky to conduct a flight without one. The manufacturer’s checklist or an aftermarket checklist that conforms to the manufacturer’s procedures for the specific make, model, and model year may be used. If there is a procedural discrepancy between the checklist and the AFM/POH, then the AFM/POH always takes precedence.Certain immediate action items (such as a response to an engine failure in a critical phase of flight) are best committed to memory. After they are accomplished, and as work load permits, the pilot can compare the action taken with a checklist.Simulated engine failures during the takeoff ground roll may be accomplished with the mixture control. The simulated failure should be introduced at a speed no greater than 50 percent of VMC. If a learner does not react promptly by retarding both throttles, the instructor can always pull the other mixture.

The FAA recommends that all in-flight simulated engine failures below 3,000 feet AGL, be introduced with a smooth reduction of the throttle. Thus, the engine is kept running and is available for instant use, if necessary. Smooth throttle reduction avoids abusing the engine and possibly causing damage. Simulation of inflight engine failures below VSSE introduces a very high and unnecessary training risk.

If the engines are equipped with dynamic crankshaft counterweights, it is essential to make throttle reductions for simulated failures smoothly. Other areas leading to dynamic counterweight damage include high rpm and low manifold pressure combinations, over-boosting, and propeller feathering. Severe damage or repetitive abuse to counterweights will eventually lead to engine failure. Dynamic counterweights are found on larger, more complex engines—instructors may check with maintenance personnel or the engine manufacturer to determine if their airplane engines are so equipped.

When an instructor simulates an engine failure, the learner should respond with the appropriate memory items and retard the appropriate propeller control toward the FEATHER position. Assuming zero thrust will be set, the instructor promptly moves the propeller control forward and sets the appropriate manifold pressure and rpm. It is vital that the learner be kept informed of the instructor’s intentions. At this point the instructor may say words to the effect, “I have the right engine; you have the left. I have set zero thrust and the right engine is simulated feathered.” Any ambiguity as to who is operating what systems or controls increases the likelihood of an unintended outcome.

Following a simulated engine failure, the instructor cares for the “failed” engine just as the learner cares for the operative engine. If zero thrust is set to simulate a feathered propeller, the cowl flap is normally closed and the mixture leaned. An occasional clearing of the engine is also desirable. If possible, avoid high power applications immediately following a prolonged cool-down at a zero-thrust power setting. A competent flight instructor teaches the multiengine learner about the critical importance of feathering the propeller in a timely manner should an actual engine failure situation ever be encountered. A windmilling propeller, in many cases, has given the improperly trained multiengine pilot the mistaken perception that the engine is still developing useful thrust, resulting in a psychological reluctance to feather, as feathering results in cessation of propeller rotation. The flight instructor should spend ample time demonstrating the difference in the performance capabilities of the airplane with a simulated feathered propeller (zero thrust) as opposed to a windmilling propeller.Actual and safe propeller feathering for training is performed at altitudes and positions where safe landings on established airports may be readily accomplished if the propeller will not unfeather. Plan unfeathering and restart to be completed no lower than 3,000 feet AGL. At certain elevations and with many popular multiengine training airplanes, this may be above the single-engine service ceiling, and level flight will not be possible.Repeated feathering and unfeathering is hard on the engine and airframe, and is done as necessary to ensure adequate training. The FAA’s Airman Certification Standards for a multiengine class rating contains a task for feathering and unfeathering of one propeller during flight in airplanes in which it is safe to do so.

While much of the Transition to Multiengine Airplanes section has been devoted to the unique flight characteristics of a multiengine airplane with one engine inoperative, the modern well-maintained reciprocating engine is remarkably reliable. When training in an airplane, initiation of a simulated engine inoperative emergency at low altitude normally occurs at a minimum of 400 feet AGL to mitigate the risk involved and only after the learner has successfully mastered engine inoperative procedures at higher altitudes. Initiating a simulated low altitude engine inoperative emergency in the airplane at extremely low altitude, immediately after liftoff, or below VSSE creates a situation where there are non-existent safety margins.

For training in maneuvers that would be hazardous in flight, or for initial and recurrent qualification in an advanced multiengine airplane, consider a simulator training center or manufacturer’s training course. Comprehensive training manuals and classroom instruction are available along with system training aids, audio/visuals, and flight training devices and simulators. Training under a wide variety of environmental and aircraft conditions is available through simulation. Emergency procedures that would be either dangerous or impossible to accomplish in an airplane can be done safely and effectively in a flight training device or simulator. The flight training device or simulator need not necessarily duplicate the specific make and model of airplane to be useful. Highly effective instruction can be obtained in training devices for other makes and models as well as generic training devices.

The majority of multiengine training is conducted in four-to-six place airplanes at weights significantly less than maximum. Single-engine performance, particularly, at low density altitudes, may be deceptively good. To experience the performance expected at higher weights, altitudes and temperatures, the instructor may occasionally artificially limit the amount of manifold pressure available on the operative engine. Airport operations above the single-engine ceiling can also be simulated in this matter. Avoid loading the airplane with passengers to practice emergencies at maximum takeoff weight since this practice creates an unnecessary training hazard.The use of the touch-and-go landing and takeoff in multiengine flight training has always been somewhat controversial. The value of the learning experience may be offset by the hazards of reconfiguring the airplane for takeoff in extremely limited time as well as the loss of the follow-through ordinarily experienced in a full stop landing. Touch-and-goes are not recommended during initial aircraft familiarization in multiengine airplanes.If touch-and-goes are to be performed at all, the learner and instructor responsibilities should be carefully briefed prior to each flight. Following touchdown, the learner will ordinarily maintain directional control while keeping the left hand on the yoke and the right hand on the throttles. The instructor resets the flaps and trim and announces when the airplane has been reconfigured. The multiengine airplane uses considerably more runway to perform a touch-and-go than a single-engine airplane. A full stop-taxi back landing is preferable during initial familiarization. Solo touch-and-goes in twins are strongly discouraged.