Section 9, Lesson 1
In Progress

Emergency Descent

Emergency Descent

The emergency descent is a procedure to get down in the event of a fire or smoke event.

Lesson Notes

To initiate an emergency descent, pilots should reduce power to idle, increase airspeed to the maximum for the airplane configuration/atmospheric conditions (e.g. smooth air, just under Vne, bumpy air, just under Vno). The more airflow, the greater the chance that it will put the fire out. Usually, emergency descents include turning to (1) take pilots off of an airway (if flying IFR) to avoid traffic, and (2) to increase the rate of descent.

If the fire is from an identifiable point, pilots should adjust their flight path to push smoke away from the cockpit. For example, if the right wing is on fire, slip away from the right wing so that smoke is blown away.

  • Engine fire: Maintain a turn so that smoke is blown towards the outside of the turn.
  • Wing fire: Use a combination of turning/slipping to push the smoke away from the cockpit (rudder towards the fire).

In training and the real world, an emergency approach and landing often follows an emergency descent. It is rarely a good idea to restart an engine that has caught on fire.

Additional Resources

Flashcard Questions

What is the purpose of an emergency descent?

Why do emergency descents normally include a turn?

Why does an emergency approach and landing usually follow many emergency descents?

If you had a fire on your left (port) wing, which direction would you push the rudder to move the smoke away from the cockpit?