Saturday 18 May 2013 17:48 UTC
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Last week I was doing circuits with a student in the RHS. Halfway through the detail I suggested my student change tanks as part of the pre landing checks. 10 seconds later the engine coughed and lost power. In addition to the usual restart tests I always urge my students to go back to the thing they did just before the failure and, if necessary, undo it so I looked down at the fuel cock (PA28) and sure enough it had been "overswitched" past the left tank and halfway to off. Stude turned it back, power came back on and that was the end of the drama.
Lessons learned, perhaps dont change tanks in the circuit, visually check if changing from Right to left in a PA28 and as I said earlier, possibly undo what you just did.
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Why was the student in the RHS?
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Does that PA28 not have the metal tag/lug to prevent exactly that happening?
I would suggest lots MORE practice at changing tanks to ensure stude can do it correctly every time and not inadvertently select OFF.
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There is potentially one change of tanks you always do that could be more disastrous than any other change of tanks. If you mistakenly switching off the fuel just before power checks you might have enough fuel in a PA28 for a shortish power check and immediate take off and you could see your Lycoming delivering full power up to 200ft or so...
I have flown in ropey old club PA28s that may have once had some form of lug or detent, but no longer, and one had to be careful to avoid doing precisely this. It came as a massive shock when I first flew one in the USA to discover that one actually had to get past a detent to turn the fuel off.
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See the Barton accident thread for an example of precisely this:
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The same thing happened to me during my night training in San Diego many moons ago.
Clapped out, old PA28 with worn out fuel selector so it spun all the way around to off.
Luckily I relaised it didn't feel right, so managed to get the torch on the switch before the engine died.
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