Circuits and EFATOs

In which I do some more unassisted landings, learn how to deal with an Engine Failure After Take Off and swear at my Instructor.


Today’s mission was yet more circuits and also introducing Engine Failure After Take Off (EFATO).

I arrived, met GraemeK (Hi there!) and was sent to preflight 4929. The stall warning horn wasn’t whistling like it was supposed to (to test it you suck on it to see if it whistles) so I mentioned that to J when he came out and after him having a try, we figured we could survive without it for today. There was also only one cushion in the plane but luckily 5231 arrived as I was preflighting so I was able to pinch one of theirs 🙂

The first few circuits for today were flapless landings. A few times on approach I felt like we were sinking far too low and had to keep adding power. It didn’t help that there was a headwind today which slowed down our approach. My landings were either totally assissted or only slightly unassisted, which is a definite improvement!

On the 4th circuit, J took over to demonstrate a way to adapt the approach to the headwind conditions. The headwind slowed down the approach which meant that we were undershooting the runway. One way to deal with this is a sideslip, which is where the controls are crossed to steepen the descent – we haven’t gone over this yet, but I can’t wait, because the few demos I’ve had of it have been awesome fun! Another way to deal with this is that the airspeed should be increased to 80kts instead of the usual 70kts. This extra power helps the plane to punch through the headwind and not undershoot the runway. Since the plane will be coming in faster when doing this, power should be cut earlier than normal (at the threshold of the runway) which allows the extra speed to bleed off during the holding off part of the landing.

He also demonstrated an Engine Failure After Take Off (EFATO). This is where (obviously) the engine fails sometime after take off and there is a loss of thrust. To deal with this, it is ESSENTIAL to immediately lower the nose to the glide attitude (which in a Jab is the same as the normal straight & level attitude) and pick a landing spot. The speed to aim for here is 65kts. It is generally suggested to try and find a place to land visible in the front windscreen. Apparantly some instructors suggest searching for a place within 30 degrees of the nose but this idea has two issues (1) How do you tell what 30 degrees is?! and (2) Even if you did know what 30 degrees would be, what if there’s somewhere at 31 degrees, do you just disregard it?. The main thing to remember with EFATOs is to NEVER EVER attempt to turn back to the runway, this is a HUGE no no. People have tried this and lost so much altitude and remaining thrust during the turn that they have lost control and crashed. NEVER EVER turn back after an EFATO, no matter how tempting it might be!

Swamp cartoons were used with permission. See more at

In training, EFATOs are only simulated (phew!). The engine isn’t stopped at all, instead the power is pulled back to idle.

The next few circuits were flapped landings. Most of my landings were either totally unassisted or partially assisted, I’m definitely improving! I also managed to deal with the issue I was having on base with not descending enough before turning onto to final.

During the second of these circuits, J pulled the power for an EFATO. I had a feeling that he might, but I was still surprised and I was like “You utter sod!” (he didn’t seem to mind, he laughed, but I still apologised later, I felt bad!). I lowered the nose pretty quickly and picked a field just to the left of the nose. This was the same place he had demonstrated the EFATO so I just picked the same field as he had during the demo. The field just in front of the plane had haybales in it, so it wasn’t really a suitable choice for a landing. I think the instructors take some sort of perverse pleasure out of surprising the students with EFATOs somehow, J seemed to be having far too much fun doing it to me! 😛

We did a few more flapped landings and one more EFATO, this time in a different place (I think we had climbed a bit further than the first time). This time the field just in front had a stream/river/water curving through it, which made it unsuitable so I picked the field just to the right of the nose. This one probably wasn’t completely ideal either, we were probably too high to reach it properly and there was a road at the far end which could have caused problems. I asked J and he said that he probably would’ve picked that field too, so it seems I made the right choice.

The next landing was the final one, a full stop on 36R.

Overall, I’m definitely improving. As I’ve said above, most of my landings today were either unassisted (yay!) or partially assisted (either J helping with control inputs or just talking me through what I needed to do). He said that in the last 2-3 hours I’ve made enormous improvement, so I’m really happy 🙂 I do wonder where I’d be now if I’d had more time to fly during the uni semester, but oh well, I’m progressing. I’m hoping to go solo before the end of the year (19th Dec). That’s another 9 lessons, so I’m hoping I can do it.

I also found out that there are apparantly plans for have a picture of the Jabs flying in formation for this year’s Christmas Card. I suggested that the pilots should do it in costume (which one of the other instructors was rather enthusastic about), which led to discussion of how J would look in a Santa suit… Since there are three Jabs, I reckon that it should be one Santa with two elves…perhaps with J dressed as a (really tall) elf? 😛 I didn’t suggest it though, I have a feeling J could get his revenge next lesson by doing lots of EFATOs! But perhaps someone else at YLIL could suggest it to the powers that be (hint!) and nobody would know it came from me! 😀

Next lesson is apparantly going to be further consolidation of what we went over today. I was told to read up on glide approaches but we probably won’t get onto them next lesson. Maybe I’ll do all the landings completely unassisted! (well, I can hope anyway!)


2 Responses to Circuits and EFATOs

  1. Zurtri says:

    You will be solo in no time groover!

    My instructor took that same perverse pleasure when pulling off the power for a glide approach.

    I swear I could hear him giggling.

  2. Darky says:

    I think they get bored with the endless circuits so once you get to the point where they can give you EFATOs/glide approaches they’re sitting there going ‘oooh time to have some fun!’ 🙂

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