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By Anon
Having had the engineer look at a rough running engine it fell to me to be the first person to fly the aircraft this afternoon after it had been signed off, spark plug replaced.

Decided on the full length of the r/w (very very long) and chose a departure from the downwind leg, both designed to give me options in the event, however all was well, checked T&Ps, all ok so I decided to climb over the high ground to the south, all well until 4000' and engine note changed so I lowered the nose with full throttle still applied and the engine died.

It was quite a peaceful experience, lowered the nose trim for best glide, carb heat hot, mixture rich, fuel pump on, started to make a plan. Engine came partially back to life, 1900 rpm full throttle. Advise ATC immediate return and was cleared to enter controlled airspace not above 2000', by then I was at 3500' and had no intention of giving any height away, so responded negative to the clearance and I would be coming in at my current altitude. The altitude restriction was removed which was nice :D

Coached the aircraft home full throttle varying between 1900 and 2000rpm. Landed without drama but with a blue light escort. Taxied to stand and shut down. Now I need to find out what the problem is.

So 500 hours, mostly in singles but some twin time and 1 engine failure, well partial anyway. I also hold an FI(A) so spend quite a lot of time doing practiced forced landings so current and competent which helped a great deal, it took the pressure off.
Last edited by Anon on Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Job well done!

Will be interesting to find out what the problem is.
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By Morten
Good stuff - good result.

Surprised that ATC initially gave any restrictions. At what stage did you call them - and did you call a PAN or a Mayday?

Well handled.

By Anon
I didn't declare either a Pan or Mayday. Somehow I felt that I had enough height to encourage the aircraft to a safe on airfield landing. Had the engine completely died then I was keeping a field in vision and would have then declared a Mayday and executed a forced landing without power, as it was it was a forced landing with some power. The wording I used with ATC was something along the lines of "G-XXXX I have a rough running engine and am returning immediate to the airfield" at the time of the call the engine had returned to some form of life so declaring an engine failure didn't seem correct although on reflection I probably understated my problem to ATC; surprisingly I was not overly concerned since I had height on my side. When I was given what is the standard join and I refused the altitude restriction the controller recognised that there was a potential for a complete and irrecoverable engine failure and reacted appropriately.

I know them well and rang them and he said that he realised as soon as I said in a rather non-standard way "Negative, I may need the height I have if the donkey dies completely".

Perhaps should have declared a PAN? What does the panel think?
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By NickC
I think I'd opt for a mayday. It's already stopped once, I don't want to chat to ATC about cleared levels, oil may dribble up the windscreen, I might misjudge the descent back to the airfield, I can't carry out a go-around etc.

But I have far fewer hours and I'm nowhere near as current as the OP.
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By PeteSpencer
Well done.

Good example of swift and correct decision making:

Your firmness with ATC made it quite plain that you had a serious problem and was acknowledged by them without demur, leaving you with more time to consider the options without wasting time arguing the toss with ATC about restrictions.

Glad you got down safely and please post when the problem is diagnosed.

By Anon
I spoke to the engineer today and investigation in progress. I'll report back in due course.

One thing I forgot to mention about Pans and Maydays is that an ex-student now PPL had departed the airfield just behind me for a short confidence building solo flight and he has had a fixation regarding his owned perceived inability to step up in the event of an emergency. I didn't want to cause him to be concerned about his flight (he was on frequency) as I was handling my own problem, so was trying to be 'casual' about it. On reflection that's rather illogical but strange how the mind works sometimes.
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By Morten
leiafee wrote:Communicate is last on the list!

Quite right. I was just wondering because I thought that, using the Pan or Mayday key words, ATC 'must' prioritise you and give you options to suit you and not others. Not sure where I got that from or whether it is true.

Regardless, in this case, passing a clear message and being firm in what you wanted, together with the application of good sense on their side was what was needed :thumleft:

By Anon
The engineer has told me that there are problems with two pistons :shock: one has a broken valve/guide and the other he thinks is the same but has yet taken it to pieces.
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By pplmeir
So engine falling apart qualifies as full on engine failure!

Well done.

Nightmares are made of that..

Would be nice to know why the issue wasnt picked up before it became that serious, if possible.
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By Paul_Sengupta
How would you? Sometimes oil filters are cut open to have a look for any metal being shed inside the engine and some people do oil analysis, but if things inside the engine are stressed to the point of breaking then you're unlikely to know anything about it without taking the thing apart and inspecting all the bits separately, perhaps NDTing them.