If you hesitate to answer, then you’re a normal human being. If this happens to you, you will be startled. Next, you’ll try to dismiss what you see - you’ll be in denial. Then, only then, will you decide you need to act.
- “Fly the airplane” through the entire event.
- Stop or limit the fire, by eliminating or isolating those things most likely to burn.
- Prevent/minimize smoke in the cockpit, to preserve visibility and avoid pilot incapacitation.
- Get the airplane on the ground as soon as possible.
- Mixture – IDLE CUT-OFF (This stops fuel from getting beyond the carburettor in the engine compartment, to limit what will burn)
- Fuel Selector Valve – OFF (This stops fuel from getting forward of the firewall, further inhibiting the fire)
- Master Switch – OFF (Some fires may be sparked by electricity, or an electrical fire might be mistaken to be an engine fire. This helps limit these possibilities)
- Cabin Heat and Air – OFF (except overhead vents). It may not seem obvious, but this is to close off airflow and therefore smoke from the engine area into the cabin, for example via the heating system. Overheat vents remain open to provide fresh air into the cabin that should be above and out of the smoke stream.
- Airspeed – 100 KIAS (if fire is not extinguished, increase glide speed to find an airspeed which will provide an incombustible mixture. In the old vernacular, this “blows out the fire”)
- Forced Landing – EXECUTE (as described in Emergency Landing Without
If the fire does not go out, you need to get on the ground right now. An engine fire that will not go out is probably the primary reason you may have to execute an emergency descent from any altitude, in a single-engine aircraft or a twin.
- On the ground, sit in your aircraft, strap in with your equipment in place (handhelds clipped in, kneeboard clipped on, iPad on your laps, etc.) so mimic the mobility and range of motion issues you face in normal flight, then complete the member steps of the Engine Fire in Flight checklist for the aircraft type.
- Without starting the engine(s) or touching a retractable landing gear switch, go through the physical process of actually moving controls and switches to develop muscle memory and experiment with any contortions necessary to accomplish checklist steps while buckled in with all the flight gear you’d normally have in the way.
- After your practice is complete, use the Shutdown checklist to ensure everything is reset and ready for the next flight.
- In routine cruise flight, occasionally quiz yourself on the Engine Fire in Flight procedure…without actually shutting anything off, of course!
- stops or limits the fire
- prevents or minimises smoke contamination in the cockpit
- prompts you to
transition to Emergency Descent, Best Glide or Single-Engine Operation, as
required to get your passengers and you on the ground.
An engine fire in flight is a rare occurrence. It is one of the scariest, most distracting, and potentially lethal things that can happen in an aircraft. This is one procedure, unlikely though it may be, that you need to know and have practiced enough so that, once you detect the need to act, you know exactly what to do without having to think about it”.