CFI Topics

Is There a Better Way?

Lesson 2

The question we as flight instructors should ask ourselves is “Is this really the proper method of teaching engine-out simulations, or is there a better way?”

Fortunately, understanding basic aerodynamics tells us that there is a better way to teach this subject. Here, what I mean by “basic aerodynamics” is the knowledge that is provided in the FAA Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25), chapters 3, 4, and 10.

When discussing gliding flight, I usually poll the audience with the following scenario: Two identical aircraft incur an engine failure at 9000 AGL. The first weighs 2400 lbs and the second weighs 2000 lbs. The question I ask is “Which aircraft can glide the farthest before it runs out of altitude? The majority of the answers come back with “the lighter one being able to glide the farthest”. The next popular answer is “the heavier one” and the remaining answers are either “both are able to glide the same distance” or “I am not sure”.

The fact that the correct answer is “they both can glide the same distance”, indicates to me that the subject of basic aerodynamics is not properly taught by flight instructors. In fact, in many cases, the flight instructor’s answer will also be “the lighter one”. In order to shed some light for a different approach to teaching engine-out gliding, in the next lesson we will review the basic aerodynamics of a wings level glide, which will allow the reader to understand why the correct answer is “they both glide the same distance”.

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