In a detailed two part series, Max Trescott covers what every pilot needs to be aware of: What to do when an engine fails after take-off. In part one (Turn Back to the Runway or Land Straight Ahead?), Max points out that a pilot’s first instincts (return and attempt an airport runway landing) is completely wrong:
One problem with relying on instincts in this situation is that the decision making process required is the exact opposite of the learning conditioned into a pilot by hundreds or thousands of hours of flying experience. During most flights, 100% of our efforts are dedicated to returning the airplane to the airport without a scratch. Why? Because scratches are expensive and nobody wants to spend money they don’t have to. Also, if the airplane returns without a scratch, then we’ll surely arrive without one too.
However, Max points out that making a so-called “impossible turn” back to the runway may prove to be fatal and the pilot’s best and SAFEST option (to save himself but not necessarily the airplane from damage) is to find a place straight ahead and attempt to make a landing.
In part II entitled What to Do & How to Train, Max shares an email exchange he had with a flying club and a plane’s owner after he had observed a CFI teach the “impossible turn” to a low time student. This exchange had triggered a discussion among CFI’s at Max’s home airport about the merits of and rules for teaching such a maneuver.
Both posts seem to have struck a nerve with readers (who agreed with his advice) and many of whom have already posted a a number of well thought out comments that are also well worth reading.