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(Pneumatic System Malfunction)
AVIATION SAFETY PROGRAM
Foreword The purpose of this series of publications is to provide the flying public with safety information that is handy and easy to review. Many of the publications in this series summarize material contained in F viation Safety program audio!visual presentations. "omments regarding these publications should be directed to the #epartment of Transportation$ Federal viation dministration$ viation Safety Program %ranch$ FS! &'($ &'' )ndependence venue$ S.*. *ashington$ #.". +',-..
The Silent Emergency (Pneumatic System Malfunction)
/ou fly in actual instrument weather conditions and ma0e enough approaches to 0eep 1current1$ ta0e your biennial flight review from a good instructor$ 0now the 12ormal1 and 13mergency1 procedure sections of your Pilot4s 5perating 6andboo0$ and feel you are 7ualified to cope with any emergency. re you8 Maybe not. Rare, But Sometimes Fatal Accidents The 2TS% has reported pneumatic system failures as a factor in an average of two fatal accidents per year over the past ten years. significant number of the reported cases involved other overriding factors such as loss of control with a bac0!up electrical gyro available$ non!instrument rated pilots flying in instrument weather conditions$ and departing with pneumatic systems 0nown to be inoperative. ll too often a pneumatic system failure leads to a situation where a pilot is forced into 1partial panel1 instrument flying that he or she may not be fully prepared to handle. number of these accidents occurred to instrument rated pilots who recognized the pneumatic system failure$ flew on partial panel in )nstrument Meteorological "onditions ()M") for some period of time$ and then lost control during high tas0!loads$ such as during an instrument approach. Many of the aircraft involved were high performance$ single engine aircraft.
The second lesson is that any airplane flown regularly under )F: should be e7uipped with either a bac0!up pneumatic source$ such as dual pneumatic systems$ or stand!by electrically powered gyroscopic instruments. The first is that loss of a pneumatic system in actual )M"$ without a bac0!up system$ is an emergency that may become life!threatening unless the airplane can be flown by partial panel into 9isual Meteorological "onditions (9M"). The gage on the instrument panel may be mar0ed as either a 1suction gage$1 a 1vacuum gage1 or a 1pressure gage1 and indicates in inches of mercury. These gyroscopic instruments may be powered by pneumatic (vacuum or pressure) or by electrical systems. in. The most common arrangement for single engine airplanes without bac0!up instrumentation$ or systems$ is a single pneumatic system which powers the directional and attitude gyroscopic instruments... *hich power source is used for which instruments may vary in the same ma0e and model of airplane$ depending on use intended at time of manufacture or modifications made after manufacture. The correct operating range (around >. This may not be possible either due to weather conditions or lac0 of pilot practice with partial panel flying. An airplane with a single pneumatic (vacuum or pressure) system. and no back-up system or electric stand-by instruments. should not be flown under IFR )F: flight 1on top1 of cloud layers with good ceilings underneath should create minimal problems with a pneumatic system failure$ but flying in hard )M" with low ceilings and visibilities underneath sets the stage for serious difficulties. .posure rate to accidents due to pneumatic system failure while in actual instrument weather is relatively low$ prudence suggests that a back-up pneumatic source or stand-by instruments are good insurance against being forced to fly partial panel in adverse weather (I!") without sufficient practice !yrosco"ic #nstrument Power 2ormal instrument flight relies in part on three gyroscopic instruments< an attitude indicator (artificial horizon)$ a heading indicator (directional gyro$ or 1#. lthough it is legal to fly single engine aircraft without dual power sources for gyroscopic instruments and even though the e.. The other gyro instrument$ the 1turn and ban01 or 1turn coordinator1 is usually electrically driven. to .essons earned The lessons are clear.1) and a turn and slip indicator (1needle and ball$1 or 1turn and ban0$1 or 1turn coordinator1). Some airplanes also have warning lights when the vacuum or pressure is out of tolerance. 6g) is given in the handboo0 for each airplane.=.
5nce the all!important first step of recognition of the need for partial panel scan is accepted$ it is also helpful to remove the malfunctioning instrument from the scan$ usually by covering it with a dis0 or piece of paper. The goal of these inspections should be to ensure that the system is operating in complete accordance with the specifications outlined by the airframe manufacturer. complete pneumatic system loss is noticeable immediately on the gage or within minutes by incorrect gyro readings. ny indication out of the normal range re7uires immediate attention by a 7ualified technician. $now %our Air"lane 3very pilot should 0now the instrument power sources (pneumatic or electrical) for each airplane flown. zero reading could indicate an air pump failure$ collapsed line or malfunctioning gage. schedule of periodic pneumatic system inspections is also recommended in order to chec0 the overall health of the system$ and at a minimum should address the items mentioned above. The possibility of pneumatic system or gyroscopic instrument failure is the reason every instrument instructor drills students on partial panel flying without reference to gyroscopic heading and attitude instruments. decrease in gage indication may be the result of a dirty filter$ dirty screen$ stic0ing regulator$ worn out air pump or a lea0 in the system. )t is important for pilots to scan all instruments whenever conflicting information develops and not attempt to ma0e control inputs on the basis of the attitude indicator alone. n additional factor involves an initial lac0 of recognition of the cause of the conflicting instrument indication which develops when one instrument$ usually the attitude indicator$ malfunctions. lthough possibly proficient in flying 1partial panel$1 many pilots are not trained or s0illed in recognizing when to revert to a 1partial panel1 scan. #uring training an instructor or safety pilot forces a partial panel scan by covering the attitude indicator. The problem is that many never practice the s0ill and only a few have ever practiced in turbulence as it seems an unli0ely need in routine operations. )n addition$ maintenance instructions provided by manufacturers of components within pneumatic systems should also be strictly followed while performing these inspections. . 3very instrument rated pilot demonstrated the ability to do so prior to receiving the rating. The pilot must understand the conse7uences of the loss of any power source or instrument and be prepared to act accordingly.Pneumatic systems$ li0e other mechanical systems$ malfunction suddenly or slowly. slow deterioration may lead to sluggish or incorrect readings which may trap a pilot who is not constantly cross!chec0ing all instruments ! including the vacuum or pressure gage. $now %ourself irplanes can be flown safely with loss of one or more gyroscopic instruments. These failures can set the stage for a fatal accident if the pilot is not proficient in partial panel flying and the failure occurs during )M".
The whole system ! radar$ weather reports$ communications$ and personnel ! is instantly available to assist you.&' degree turn is usually the best course of action. These procedures may be tailored to each airplane type and model and should be demonstrated by and practiced with an instructor. #o not try to be a hero and continue on bravely as if loss of pneumatic power was no big deal. Most general aviation pilots remain 1current1 by flying in the system and may rarely face or practice emergency situations. utopilots using these instruments as sensors must be turned off immediately. )f your pneumatic driven gyro instruments fail$ it is still possible to ma0e a . ?i0ewise a descent through clouds to 9M" can be made using the turn indicating instrument. BA'$()P* The Better +ay )F /5@: ):P? 23 #53S 25T 6 93 % "A!@P$ 5: ST 2#%/ P23@M T)" S/ST3M$ 2# )F /5@ @S3 /5@: ):P? 23 F5: )F: F?)=6T$ /5@ S65@?# )2ST ?? 3)T63: % "A!@P P23@M T)" P5*3: S5@:"3 5: 3?3"T:)" ??/ P5*3:3# ST 2#!%/ =/:5S"5P)" )2ST:@M32TS. )t is a serious emergency unless you have maintained a high degree of proficiency in partial panel flying. Most partial panel practice is done with covered instruments$ but in real cases the artificial horizon will be sagging and giving erroneous information that your instincts want to accept as correct. Finally$ if your airplane has no bac0!up capability be cautious in the type of weather you fly. )t may be too late to learn them when faced with actual need.&' degree turn by using the turn and ban0 (or turn coordinator)$ magnetic compass and cloc0. For many pilots$ continued flight in )M" conditions with failed gyro heading and attitude instruments is a high wor0 load situation that could lead to a fatality. T" personnel 0now where to find better weather and are able to give 1no gyro1 heading directions.Professional pilots who are re7uired to ta0e semi!annual simulator training practice a lifetime of emergencies each training session although they rarely encounter emergencies in daily operations. #f %ou Are &ot #nstrument Rated )f you are not instrument rated and inadvertently encounter )M"$ the . Solid )M" from ta0e!off to touchdown can be very difficult on partial panel. Several manufacturers offer a variety of alternate electric gyroscopic instruments or pneumatic systems that will supply vacuum or pressure if the engine driven pump fails. lso$ cover the dead or unreliable instruments. void conditions that ris0 encountering )M". #f %ou Are #nstrument Rated )f you are instrument rated and gyro instruments fail or mislead$ do not be afraid to as0 for help. Since pneumatic system ! or .
enue S0+0 +ashington./) -// #nde"endence A. AVIATION SAFETY PROGRAM Federal A.iation Administration A.pneumatic driven instrument ! failure in actual )M" can and does occur$ the cost of a stand!by system is far less than the too often fatal results of not having a bac0!up./234 'ontact your local FAA Flight Standards 1istrict 5ffice6s Safety Program Manager for more safety information0 .iation Safety Program (AFS(-. 10'0 .
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