Page 36 - Jan 20 TNT
P. 36

  From the Flight Deck
by Kevin R. Dingman
Statistically Speaking
Will you have an engine failure this year?
The good news for many T&T readers is the FAA says turbine engines have a failure rate of one per 375,000 flight hours compared to one every 3,200 flight hours for piston engines. This means jet engines are 117 times less likely to quit than reciprocating ones. According to the NTSB, there are somewhere between 150 and 200 accidents per year that are caused by power loss. For piston twins and experimental aircraft, the accident rate is higher.
There were over 4,000 accidents attributable to engine failure during a recent five-year period; that’s about two per day. But the actual engine failure number is likely double or triple that rate when you consider the number of engine failures that resulted in a successful landing with no damage i.e., not an “accident” – like mine and my buddies mentioned below. It’s a new year; will this be
the year that you have your first engine failure? If you have more than 5,000 hours and have not yet had one, statistically speaking, the odds say yes.
Nobody who gets too damned relaxed builds up much flying time.
– Ernest K. Gann
Fate is the Hunter
Fate is a fixed course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual. The word fate traces back to the Latin word fatum, and something that’s your fate is a done deal, not open to modification. The quintessential fate endorsing works of Ernie Gann notwithstanding, the words random and statistical probability or odds are less philosophical when describing the likelihood of an engine failure than is fate. The word “random” generally means “with a uniform distribution.” In statistics, the “odds” of an event reflect the likelihood that the event will take place. And “eventu- ally” is defined as occurring at an undetermined time in the future. If we exclude higher risk flying such as crop dusting, aerobatics, air racing, combat, other edge-of-the- envelope maneuvering and chronically poor maintenance, one would think that “eventually” the “odds” of having an engine failure would occur “randomly” across all pilots and that over time, we should all experience at least one. If only that were so.
My friend Bob Hoffman with his first off-airport landing in 20 engine failures.
       34 • TWIN & TURBINE / January 2020

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