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Airplane Flying Handbook
Emergency Procedures

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Airplane Flying Handbook


Table of Contents

Chapter 1,Introduction to Flight Training
Chapter 2,Ground Operations
Chapter 3,Basic Flight Maneuvers
Chapter 4, Slow Flight, Stalls, and Spins
Chapter 5, Takeoff and Departure Climbs
Chapter 6, Ground Reference Maneuvers
Chapter 7, Airport Traffic Patterns
Chapter 8, Approaches and Landings
Chapter 9, Performance Maneuvers
Chapter 10, Night Operations
Chapter 11,Transition to Complex Airplanes
Chapter 12, Transition to Multiengine Airplanes
Chapter 13,Transition to Tailwheel Airplanes
Chapter 14, Transition to Turbo-propeller Powered Airplanes
Chapter 15,Transition to Jet Powered Airplanes
Chapter 16,Emergency Procedures




It is beyond the scope of this handbook to incorporate
a course of training in basic attitude instrument
flying. This information is contained in FAA-H-
8083-15, Instrument Flying Handbook. Certain
pilot certificates and/or associated ratings require
training in instrument flying and a demonstration of
specific instrument flying tasks on the practical test.

Pilots and flight instructors should refer to FAA-H-
8083-15 for guidance in the performance of these
tasks, and to the appropriate practical test standards
for information on the standards to which these
required tasks must be performed for the particular
certificate level and/or rating. The pilot should
remember, however, that unless these tasks are practiced
on a continuing and regular basis, skill erosion
begins almost immediately. In a very short time, the
pilot's assumed level of confidence will be much
higher than the performance he or she will actually
be able to demonstrate should the need arise.

Accident statistics show that the pilot who has not
been trained in attitude instrument flying, or one
whose instrument skills have eroded, will lose control
of the airplane in about 10 minutes once forced
to rely solely on instrument reference. The purpose
of this section is to provide guidance on practical
emergency measures to maintain airplane control for
a limited period of time in the event a VFR pilot
encounters IMC conditions. The main goal is not
precision instrument flying; rather, it is to help the
VFR pilot keep the airplane under adequate control
until suitable visual references are regained.

The first steps necessary for surviving an encounter
with instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) by a
VFR pilot are:
• Recognition and acceptance of the seriousness of
the situation and the need for immediate remedial
• Maintaining control of the airplane.
• Obtaining the appropriate assistance in getting the
airplane safely on the ground.


A VFR pilot is in IMC conditions anytime he or she is
unable to maintain airplane attitude control by reference
to the natural horizon, regardless of the circumstances
or the prevailing weather conditions. Additionally, the
VFR pilot is, in effect, in IMC anytime he or she is inadvertently,
or intentionally for an indeterminate period of
time, unable to navigate or establish geographical
position by visual reference to landmarks on the
surface. These situations must be accepted by the pilot
involved as a genuine emergency, requiring appropriate

The pilot must understand that unless he or she is
trained, qualified, and current in the control of an airplane
solely by reference to flight instruments, he or she
will be unable to do so for any length of time. Many
hours of VFR flying using the attitude indicator as a
reference for airplane control may lull a pilot into a false
sense of security based on an overestimation of his or
her personal ability to control the airplane solely by
instrument reference. In VFR conditions, even though
the pilot thinks he or she is controlling the airplane by
instrument reference, the pilot also receives an overview
of the natural horizon and may subconsciously rely on it
more than the cockpit attitude indicator. If the natural
horizon were to suddenly disappear, the untrained
instrument pilot would be subject to vertigo, spatial
disorientation, and inevitable control loss.


Once the pilot recognizes and accepts the situation, he
or she must understand that the only way to control the
airplane safely is by using and trusting the flight instruments.
Attempts to control the airplane partially by
reference to flight instruments while searching outside
the cockpit for visual confirmation of the information
provided by those instruments will result in inadequate
airplane control. This may be followed by spatial
disorientation and complete control loss.

The most important point to be stressed is that the pilot
must not panic. The task at hand may seem overwhelming,
and the situation may be compounded by
extreme apprehension. The pilot therefore must make
a conscious effort to relax.

The pilot must understand the most important concern
—in fact the only concern at this point—is to keep
the wings level. An uncontrolled turn or bank usually
leads to difficulty in achieving the objectives of any
desired flight condition. The pilot will find that good
bank control has the effect of making pitch control
much easier.

The pilot should remember that a person cannot feel
control pressures with a tight grip on the controls.
Relaxing and learning to "control with the eyes and
the brain" instead of only the muscles, usually takes
considerable conscious effort.

The pilot must believe what the flight instruments
show about the airplane's attitude regardless of what
the natural senses tell. The vestibular sense (motion
sensing by the inner ear) can and will confuse the pilot.
Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear
cannot detect slight changes in airplane attitude, nor
can they accurately sense attitude changes which occur
at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other
hand, false sensations are often generated, leading the
pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed
when, in fact, it has not. These false sensations result
in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation.


An airplane is, by design, an inherently stable platform
and, except in turbulent air, will maintain approximately
straight-and-level flight if properly trimmed
and left alone. It is designed to maintain a state of
equilibrium in pitch, roll, and yaw. The pilot must be
aware, however, that a change about one axis will
affect the stability of the others. The typical light
airplane exhibits a good deal of stability in the yaw
axis, slightly less in the pitch axis, and even lesser still
in the roll axis. The key to emergency airplane attitude
control, therefore, is to:

• Trim the airplane with the elevator trim so that it
will maintain hands-off level flight at cruise airspeed.
• Resist the tendency to over control the airplane.
Fly the attitude indicator with fingertip control.
No attitude changes should be made unless the
flight instruments indicate a definite need for a
• Make all attitude changes smooth and small, yet
with positive pressure. Remember that a small
change as indicated on the horizon bar corresponds
to a proportionately much larger change
in actual airplane attitude.
• Make use of any available aid in attitude control
such as autopilot or wing leveler.