I am flying a single engine aircraft and after liftoff in air at low height, I lost the engine but I till have some runway length ahead, what should I do? Land straight ahead? How could I tell if I still have enough runway length to do the land maneuver and full stop on the runway? How should I perform the landing maneuver, quickly idle thrust and pitch down to stop the climb rate and then do a pitch up flare?


2 Answers 2


At low altitude engine loss you have no choice but to land straight ahead. Anything but the slightest heading adjustments will most probably end catastrofically. Your memory items are (at least, depends on complexity of aircraft):

  1. Gently but decisevily lower the nose
  2. Close throttle
  3. Mixture cutoff
  4. Close fuel valve
  5. Adjust airspeed for landing
  6. Flare and land
  7. Now is the time to worry whether or not you have room to stop. Brake in a controlled manner and avoid objects if possible.

Should you have the time and composure at any moment during the predicament, radio "mayday mayday mayday [your callsign] engine out"

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 8. Try to crack your door open before hitting anything. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jul 24, 2021 at 17:56

How do you determine if you have enough runway ahead? That's a tricky one, and in this situation you quite possibly have milliseconds to make that determination. It's going to be an estimate at best because you certainly wont have time to do any calculations. As a general rule I'd say if you have around half the runway length left you're probably good.

In this situation you should definately make a straight ahead landing, even if you dont have enough runway left.

Cut the throttle (if you have any left, in say a partial failure/rough running), pitch down to landing attitude, and execute a normal glide approach landing.

  • $\begingroup$ "As a general rule I'd say if you have around half the runway length left you're probably good." That depends entirely on the overall length of the runway! $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2021 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ If you've lost power, you really don't have a choice. Your best bet (probably your only bet) is to use whatever runway you have to slow as much as possible before crashing into whatever's at the end. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 23, 2021 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ The only time I can think where you might consider not landing straight ahead is when you are taking off from a short runway and your power fails as you are over a longer cross runway. Making a turn to land on the longer runway might be advisable, but even then you risk stalling in the turn and converting a perfectly safe landing into a crash. $\endgroup$ Jul 23, 2021 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth: Or perhaps a parallel runway, if there's no traffic using it. E.g. my often home airport used to have an (approximately) 5000 ft GA runway paralleling the 10,000 ft commercial one, so there was a couple of thousand feet of the long runway extending beyond each end of the shorter one. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 24, 2021 at 4:14

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