AVweb Rewind: Why Aircraft Engines Quit


Aircraft engines, for obvious reasons, are supposed to be reliable, but having one tank is a recurring nightmare for many pilots. How often does it happen? Often enough, but as AVweb’s Paul Bertorelli reveals in this video, the risk is not really as high as many of us imagine and more than half of engine failures are caused by pilot or mechanic mistakes. In this AVweb rewind, we take a look at a video examining the topic published last year.

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  1. I once had a fuel injected 172 quit on take off. Well, it didn’t entirely quit. The engine started to stumble and not make power. This was on a hot humid day. I existed halfway down the runway, pulled over, and did another run up. Everything was fine. Got back in line, tried again to take off, and it did the exact same thing. This time I called it a day and had maintenance look at it.

  2. My record is four engine failures in cars, two involving batteries coming adrift, one involving a worn out distributor, and one involving stripped plastic teeth on a timing gear. Zero engine failures in airplanes, a couple of rough running engines with one leading to a ground abort.

    • But that being said, a group I often fly with have over a 100 yrs of flying experience and over 75000 hrs collectively and not one has ever had an inflight engine failure.

  3. After 3 mechanical failures and one carb ice issue each in a different aircraft make & model model I’d guess pilots who’ve flown a gazillion hours with scarcely a burp also had a lotta luck on their side. That pre-takeoff brief of what I’ll do based on AGL, winds, obstacles, and survivable landing sites is a really important part of every flight for me.

    • For me too. I even talk through how to blow bubbles get out if we hit water and flip upside down and you don’t know which way is up.

  4. AV Web is the best on line aviation publication, and Paul Bertorelli is the best commentator. Thanks to both for your many contributions, including this video. BTW, no mystery why Rotax has the worst failure record. Its engines are not as reliable as the proven Lycomings and Continentals.

  5. I am not surprised that engines quit.I am surprised that most pilots don’t know what to do when it happens, especially trying the 180 degree turn from 7 hundred feet while pulling back on the wheel.

  6. It goes without saying that all pilots should practice Stalls on a regular basis…power on, power off, approach turn, and accelerated; AND Engine Failures, especially those that may occur during Takeoff. During total Engine Failure Practice (performed at a safe altitude obviously) NOTE YOUR ALTITUDE LOSS with power at idle, flying at Vg (best glide speed) in a 270 degree turn followed by at least a 45 degree turn, but also a 90 degree (especially if obstructions are present adjacent to the runway you are practicing for) in the opposite direction of the initial 270 degree turn (that’s what it takes to get back to the runway you just took off on, NOT just a 180 degree turn!). Then remember that number every time you take off!!!