Top Letters And Comments, October 22, 2021


EAA Launches Turn-Back Study

Many variables. Only way to tell it to go up and practice it yourself in your plane and see what happens in different situations.

Lower weight, stronger takeoff headwind, DA and many other things matter.

My Maule can make it back under some circumstances but only if conditions are right and I’m Johnny on the spot. I suspect in an actual takeoff engine out after liftoff I’d never be able to react fast enough below 500-750′ AGL to make it back.

Landing (or crashing, I suppose we always ‘land’) straight ahead is good general advise, but in some cases may not be the only option.


Too much emphasis on returning to the departure runway. Just making it back to the airport perimeter, infield, or diagonally across the departure runway would be preferable to crashing straight ahead in a subdivision, interstate, shopping district, busy boulevard, or trees, which are your choices at our county airport. On the airport you’re most likely to have people who can offer assistance if things go bad. But, as above, the VARIABLES! Huge difference between a 172 and a Cirrus.

Dennis C.

Some input here from a glider pilot: a 20-degree offset after liftoff greatly increases your return chances just in case, especially if you offset with the crosswind. Of course, that is a nearly impossible departure at most airports where you are expected to maintain runway heading, you would be the oddball.

Joe Jetstar

Practicing is fine, we did it in our Skyhawk, but that’s not the real issue. The real issue is recognizing [and accepting] that you haven’t any power and deciding on what to do. That could easily take fifteen or twenty seconds, perhaps more. You could then decide to turn when it is now too late.

My only engine stoppage occurred 1/2 of the way down a long runway, so I didn’t have to think about it.

Richard Phillips

The Buzzkill Argument

I think the problem is too many people accept risk by omission instead of by design.

I worked for 17 years flying fixed wing aerial fire suppression for a Canadian company. Most people thought it was a risky, even a crazy way to make a living, but I can honestly say I was never scared. There were many times where we had to proactively decide on mitigation actions during a bombing run but the operation had good SOPs to manage the risks and nobody ever got criticized if they decided a run was unacceptably dangerous and went home.

What I see in many of the buzz kill arguments is not pilots choosing to accept a risk during a flight, but rather refusing to accept the fact that they can and must manage the risk in an organized way.

David Gagliardi

Defining “safety culture” is not difficult; implementing one in a relatively unregulated environment is. Professional flying organizations achieve their impressive safety records almost exclusively with regulation. Regulation strictly mandates pro-pilot health, experience, training, operation, etc., etc., etc. Most of the important go/no-go decisions GA pilots make every time they fly are already made for professional pilots by dint of the regulatory environment they operate within. Professional pilots are told what to do, how to do it, and then are monitored to ensure they actually do what they’re told. And crucially, unlike general aviation, “fun” is not a factor in decision-making for commercial aviation.

That kind of control over GA pilots comes from only one place: the individual pilot. The best way I’ve found to emulate the pros is by defining and strictly adhering to personal minimums. But as Paul pointed out, the kind of activities GA pilots engage in are so diverse it’s nearly impossible for an individual to develop a risk mitigation scheme that covers them all.

I use a personal stop gap for decision-making on those operations that don’t fall within already established personal guidelines. After looking at the big picture (the aircraft, weather, and me) I ask myself two questions:

  1. How will this decision be viewed by accident investigators if I crash?
  2. Would I take my grandchildren on this flight?

I’m not saying the answers to these questions should determine a go/no-go decision. I’m saying they should serve to help clarify and define your risk mitigation efforts. Risk is inherent in every decision, but understanding and mitigating them to the maximum extent possible ensures that “fun” never ranks higher on your decision matrix than “safety.”

Mark Sletten

Poll: What Do You Think of Diamond’s Electric eDA40?

  • Battery technology still hasn’t progressed to the point that we’re not making big time compromises to go electric. Many people will due to techno love, but in order to approach the current utility standard there’s still a lot of work to be done. Being aviation, I hesitate to endorse anything that’s not ready yet – even if it’s not entirely impossible.
  • Diamond has the resources to feel out the market so why not try it? But I have to think an owner engaged in “proving the concept” will be inclined to offload it before the developmental quirks are anywhere near resolved.
  • Electric-powered aircraft are like the Wright flyer! Could be ground breaking, but we will have to wait and see! Also, it will be a hard sell to find buyers for this type of powerplant.
  • Just another small step on a very long journey. Most of these steps will not be remembered individually, even if electrification does eventually become the norm.
  • Call me when the range is a solid 4 hours with max payload and 45 min reserve without depleting battery life.
  • Getting there but not quite yet.
  • Electric has its place. Not this. Needs a clean sheet design.
  • They’re more likely to do it right than others. Still, it’s a work very much in progress.
  • Just like electric cars, this gives the appearance of solving one perceived problem by creating a much bigger and potentially worse problem. Developing electric airplanes supports the flawed thesis that electric energy will overall be cleaner.
  • We know nothing about it. What is the power of the motor? Performance? Payload capacity? Anyone could make a single-engine trainer all electric with 90 minutes of endurance; just trade off power, performance, and payload for batteries. When will AVweb stop falling for this all-electric folly and question these pie-in-the-sky press releases? This is further proof that journalism is dead.
  • It’s a big step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go.
  • To equal conventional power it would require additional ‘refueling aircraft’ to provide a recharge.
  • Practical only with quick change battery pack, and for special applications, like local area flight training.
  • These electric airplanes are toys, and eye candy for investors’ money only ….. physics are not on their side.
  • Nice to see a “big” named player in aviation take-on such a breakthrough in transportation. Lots of R&D power is needed to get this right.
  • I checked their time aloft estimates and they are exaggerated, as are most airplane stats. They will be successful as better batteries evolve.
  • Trainer? Sure! More than that? Doubtful.
  • Fix the 100LL fuel issue first.
  • Terrible for GA. It propagates the concept that airplanes should ALL be electric. It gives the authoritarians who want GA gone a chance to remove the ICE and ultimately kill all but commercial flight? Think that sounds crazy? Better look around and see all the things we never thought could/would/should happen that are happening right now.
  • The infrastructure is going to be the problem.
  • I can see it working as a trainer if you can give 1 to 1.5 hours endurance. Not gonna cut it for real operations till we see far better battery technology.
  • Primitive, but likely to eventually (after quick charge, large capacity storage, and weight are solved) will doom hydrocarbon powered aircraft to museums and junk yards.
  • No one is paying attention to the environmental damage created by the manufacture and disposal of lithium polymer batteries and where is the concern about a lithium battery fire? As far as I know, we do not have fire extinguishers capable of putting out a lithium polymer battery fire…
  • The death of GA. Training planes will carry you 90 mins. Cross-country will stop being feasible, ceding that purely to the carriers.
  • Other than the ‘Gee Whizz’ factor, could someone explain exactly what is the point of converting fossil fuel to electricity then using that electricity somewhat inefficiently to fly an aircraft where additional weight is an unwanted design feature. The fossil fuel used to produce electricity still has to be converted to horse power one way or another. Wind turbines are certainly not the answer, neither are solar cells. Until environmentalists understand that at this time the only viable method of reducing fossil fuel usage is nuclear energy, this rush to convert to electrically powered vehicles of any sort is self-defeating.
  • It will be like using and electric drill, functional but no romance. Sport flying is a touchy-feely-smelly-tasty-looky event. Why else would you leave home to pay that much for a hamburger?
  • Until they get the failure to recover from spins under control I would not have anything to do with it as a basic trainer.
  • Having flown the DA-40, I can’t think of anything about electric that would be worthwhile.
  • Only what the market thinks will count.
  • Who cares? I won’t be buying one.
  • Gets them pandering points.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. Turn Back: yes you can … in some aircraft. Your C172 probably can. Your Cherokee will make it back to the airport but don’t plan on getting aligned with the runway. Flying a Cirrunanza? Fuhgiddaboudit! Mooney? Only if you yank that prop control to low RPM right away.

    And none of this is at all useful unless you have practiced ahead of time.

  2. Getting my glider add-on, the pre-takeoff checklist included the Emergency section which was geared toward rope break and it went “Early release – land straight ahead, 200 foot – 180 degrees to best runway, 400 foot – modified pattern to best runway.”

    The keys is to know the aircraft and have a plan as part of the takeoff brief. Example: I know in my plane I need 800 foot before I attempt the impossible turn. For runway 28, after takeoff, I plan on landing straight ahead, at about 300 feet I can make a rarely used cross road. When established on cross-wind I can make another. At 500 I can teardrop back to an downwind landing. At mid-field I can make an upwind landing. Taking off runway 10 is towards town so the options are some less than ideal fields that will probably result in aircraft damage. I’m thinking, straight ahead, now field to the right, now left turnout and field to the left, now teardrop, now northbound to freeway, …

    Depends on wind, aircraft, local area, skills… have a plan so you’re not trying to figure it out the moment it happens. I also experiment with sawtooth climb and descent testing and altitude loss vs airspeed and bank.

  3. Once you believe you can turn back to the airport, I suggest taking the surface closest to your side – grass, taxiway, ….

    I remember Captain Al Haines’ droll remark when the tower cleared crippled UA 232 to land on a specific runway.
    “Oh, you want us to land on a runway?”

    • Technically the tower probably cleared them to land on _any_ runway.

      Adjacent cornfields would have been fine I suppose.