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declaring an emergency

mrflyguy

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I was just wondering from some more experienced pilots--what are some real-life situations where you would declare an emergency. Loss of engine when in a twin. How about vacuum system failure in IMC? Thanks for the imput.
 

BigFlyr

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Forgot the Miracle Whip!:D
 

falcondriver

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Had a rapid decompression at 330 in a old cargo Falcon 20...
That was no fun......
Falcondriver
We declared on the way down
 

Airbus300

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Let me guess. You accidently hit the "dump" switch while adjusting the presurization.
 

falcondriver

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I know somebody who did that...mine was a clogged line, atleast thats what maint told me.....
That particular plane wanted to kill me... It was a old fedex plane....
FD
 

dispatchguy

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Jumpseated into PHX about 8pm last nite in an A319 when a Piper Cheyenne declared an emergency due to smoke coming out of his overhead panel.

PHX ATC closed runway 26 and gave it to him, and the controller did one helluva job rerouting all of the arrivals to the 25s, while managing 25R departures.

By the time we landed, ATC was allowing arrivals onto 26 again, so I assumed that it all worked out ok.
 

bobbysamd

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Declaring an emergency

Loss of vacuum system in IMC is a no-brainer emergency declaration. I realize we practice partial-panel NDB approaches during training, but that is an extreme, non real-world situation. As a practical matter, you would declare and request clearance to the nearest airport that has VFR or an ILS.

Opinions differ on an engine-out emergency. Some airplanes maintain altitude just fine on one engine. Others do not. Just the same, my gut reaction is I would declare.

Sputtering engine in a single might be reason to declare, if you can't fix it by switching tanks, or carb heat or alternate air, or by running on one mag. Even then, I'd declare or at least confess if my single was running only on one mag.

A lot depends. It's easy for me to say what I'd do while I'm sitting here and typing. Actually mulling over my options while trying to fly the airplane may change things. Of course, the first thing you must always do is fly the airplane. The Eastern guys in the Florida swamp are proof positive of the consequences of not flying the airplane.
 

DarnNearaJet

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If the s hits the f and you plan on violating an FAR or exceeding a limitation, declare!

Always remember the Monday morning QB's who will second-guess your every decision.
 

Freight Dog

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Declare for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that may cause you to deviate from the FAR's.
 

JimNtexas

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About four years ago I was in an Archer at night between San Antonio and Austin, about 9,000. I remember one of the comets was up, and the sky was crystal clear. There were solid stratus clouds from 1000 agl to 7000 msl in the Austin area.

I was really enjoying the sky when I heard a little "pop", followed by the alternator light.

This Archer used to have air conditioning, which means there is a rubber band instead of a real alternator belt. The rubber band had broken.

I powered down everything except one radio. I declared an emergency and asked for a heading to intercept the Austin ILS. They gave me a heading and discretion to descend. Based on the distance, it was about 12 to 15 minutes away, so I told the controller I'd be back in 10 minutes, and turned the radio off.

I started a descent after five minutes or so, and came back up at the ten minute point (it was hard to wait). They gave me a corrected vector to intercept which worked out fine. I broke out at a thousand feet and canceled the emergency and landed.

I never heard a word about it from the Feds, and the next day I ordered a handheld GPS.

Jim
 

Typhoon1244

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I've never heard of someone being accused of being too conservative about declaring an emergency. Example: flaps jammed up. I declared. Sure, we practice no-flap landings in the sim and we had lots of runway (MCO)...but landing flaps up is still an abnormal situation in most Part 121 jets. If something went wrong, and I had said "nah, we don't need the equipment," etc, etc, guess who get's crucified in the investigation?
 

avbug

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I've had engine fires and muiltiple failures, irate passengers and medically challenged passengers, structural failures, and once had someone in the right seat experience a heart attack. However, I have never "declared" an emergency. I rolled the rescue trucks once, and that wasn't my decision (but I didn't fight it, either).

Most of the time the situations have been handleable without outside intervention. Situations which have warranted declaration in most cases precluded taking the time to make such a declaration...usually too busy for such formalities.

Bear in mind that declaration of an emergency isn't necessary to get priority handling, and also bear in mind that ATC can make the decision for you. Also bear in mind that declaration of an emergency isn't the E-ticket to freedom from violation; don't declare an emergency to save your self from a violation. The FAA isn't stupid, and attempting to cover up a problem by declaring an emergency doesn't bode well.

If you do have an emergency, notify somebody about it if it will help. There is no harm in it, and there can be some terrific advantages.

Don't automatically assume an instrument failure, or engine failure, or even a fire is an emergency. Look at the specific circumstances of the moment and weigh it against your options and needs. Don't hesitate to ask for help, but don't make a mountain out of molehill, either. I have yet to have experienced an engine failure in which making any such declaration would have made one iota of difference, but that's not to say it isn't possible. In the few cases when sweat was caused to form, talking on the radio was the farthest from my mind, and certainly my lowest priority.

Sometimes the declaration of an emergency is perceived to be a mystical act that changes the nature of everything, and that a formal declaration must be made. It's viewed as though ATC cannot help and assistance cannot be brought to play without this magic act. Not so. State your problem and your intentions, and treat it just like you would any other phase of flight. It needn't be formal, or melodramatic; tell ATC what you have got, and then fly it. Certainly don't minimize your statement (typified by the historical significance of "minimum fuel" vs. a true emergency, for example), but tell it like it is. State what you intend to do, and then do it.

One thing I have seen in declarations is the unwillingness to fully take charge of the moment. Rather than state that Flight 683 would like to return for landing, state that you have an engine fire and are proceeding direct for the numbers, request the trucks, etc. Tell ATC or whomever you're talking to exactly what you have, what you intend to do about it, and what help you need. Then have a ball.
 

Brother Francis

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A few thoughts

If you have an Emergency Checklist open, it is an emergency. Say so. Do what you need to do in the airplane, then, and only then should you speak. Drop the microphone and fly the airplane; don't drop the airplane and fly the microphone. Run the checklist(s) first. If there is still a problem after the last line, speak up. Then run the checklists that deal with the existing situation.

Freight Dog is absolutely right. Ref: Chapter 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91 paragraph 3, subparagraph a. As stated above, this is not a magic bullet that will protect you from the consequences of your own mistakes. Ref: subparagraph b.

Arguments with ATC over wx deviations. It's rare, but it happens. Declaring an emergency reduces IFR separation standards and gives everyone more room to work with. The threat should be sufficient. If not, declare. You are protected by 91.3(a). Example:

"If I can't get a 20 degree left turn in the next 3 miles I'm going to declare an emergency."

"Unable 20 left. Maintain present heading."

"XXX is declaring an emergency and is established on YYY heading."
 
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Typhoon1244

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Re: A few thoughts

Brother Francis said:
If you have an Emergency Checklist open, it is an emergency. Say so.
I'm with Brother Francis on this one...in fact on some aircraft, I'd extend it to include certain Abnormals.

Too often, "declaring an emergency" is seen as a sign of weakness on the part of the pilot, not macho. Other people shy away from declaring because of the paperwork or inconvenience involved. That's a load of crap...like guys who press on with a bad approach simply because they don't want to have to write up an Occurance Report (or whatever form your company uses).

If my little third-world turboprop has suddenly blown all of its hydraulic fluid overboard, guess what? I just became the most important airplane in Oklahoma City...in my mind, anyway. Does that mean the first thing I do is start talking on the radio? No. Think of the radio as a tool you use to clean up after a failure.

"Flight 221 is declaring an emergency, we've lost both hydraulic systems, which will mean a no-flap landing with minimal braking capability, we need to run a couple checklists and we'll be ready for an approach to five-left in about ten minutes. We'll keep you advised if we need anything else." Now you don't have to specify what kind of handling you need or when to roll the trucks.

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to declare and still remain P.I.C. No, it's not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it does give you some leeway you might not otherwise have. If you think you're in a situation which is a valid emergency, but declaring it one wouldn't affect the outcome significantly, why not declare? So you don't have to do some paperwork? C'mon! Hey, from a purely macho standpoint, I'd a lot rather declare before someone else has to do it for me!

(The above ranting and raving is a reflection of this poster's opinion and should not be regarded as flight instruction...)
 
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Focker

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keep it simple

FreightDog is right on. Spoken from experience I'm guessing. Me too. I would add anytime you might conceivably need to roll the crash trucks or rescue team in your direction to help your, or passengers, little pink bodies.
 

DarnNearaJet

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avbug said:
"[Don't automatically assume an instrument failure, or engine failure, or even a fire is an emergency."


I doubt you could find one Fed in the entire country who would agree with you. My Company's FOM specifically states and engine failure/fire is an emergency and necessitates landing at the nearest suitable field. To do otherwise is just asking for a violation and a trip to the unemployment line.
 

na265

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I've had two. The first was smoke in the CP. We lost the #1 inverter, fried the windshield heat controller and had lightes on everywhere. The second was a windshield failure at FL 350. Neither were any fun. We declared an emergency, and ATC handled us with excellent service and got us on the ground fast.
 

Saabslime

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Avbug, if you don't consider declaring an emergency necessary during an engine failure, fire, etc. I would consider you more of a cowboy than a professional aviator. I understand what you're saying but if you have a problem that warrents returning to the airport immediately, its an emergency period. Just say so.
 

Typhoon1244

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I've been thinking this over, and I've decided I was too diplomatic before.

If you've got two engines installed on your airplane, and one of them isn't working, and you're in flight...THAT'S AN EMERGENCY, and you need to declare it as such.

There are certain companies who strongly discourage--to the point of termination--declaring an emergency. AirTran is one of them. They discourage this because they're worried about the "bad press" an emergency could generate. I'm sorry that this attitude about emergencies is being perpetuated.

If things are not normal, and there's even a chance that someone in or around your aircraft could get hurt, darn it, declare!

Avbug, you scare me.
 

njcapt

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Typhoon1244 said:
Avbug, you scare me.
His advice scares me, too.

I can't imagine what kind of career experience he has that would cause him to have such a cavalier attitude towards potentially career affecting incidents. Maybe my time flying for 121 airlines has affected my feelings regarding declaring emergencies, but I believe that ANY time you have the possibility of bending the aircraft on landing or have some significant reduction in performance (engines, brakes, flaps - not just one redundant system that powers them) you declare. Jeez... at most airlines you just fill out an irregularity report and the Chief Pilot's office handles the feds.

What is the downside of declaring? Too macho to admit that you might need assistance? Afraid of drawing attention to yourself? You owe it to your passengers, the owner of the aircraft, the guy who lands behind you as you are trailing oil or parts, and the airport operators to make your situation known AND set the proper remedies in motion.
 
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