Friday, January 26, 2007


In a bizarre twist the NTSB, never at a loss for confusing the causes of accidents with how much it can do for aircraft manufacturers, has suggested that pilot training needs improvement to handle double engine failures at altitude.

First, double engine failures on multi-engine airplanes are illegal if a common cause can result in failure of more than one engine. In short, the airplane should never have been certified as airworthy if this could happen.

It turns out that some jet engines at high altitude, high power settings and cold temperatures can lock up and refuse to restart. This is not only a violation of the certification regulations for the engines, but also of the airplane if both of them in a two engine airplane can do the same thing at the same time.

Instead of coming down like it should have on the manufacturers of the engines and airplanes, the NTSB has instead recommended that a multi-disciplinary panel of experts be convened to discuss improving pilot training. That training already exists! It's called glider training because when two engines quit in a two engine airplane, the pilots are flying a glider!

What airplanes and engines are the NTSB referring to? The regional jets that increasingly carry more passengers to their destinations than the "real airplanes" that we used to fly in.

This NTSB recommendation, which ignores the seriousness of this life threatening problem and does not address its cause, is irresponsible.

My recommendation is that when both engines quit and you can't restart, the crew should thank the NTSB and the FAA for failing to exercise their legal obligations to protect those who fly in aircraft.