There are, of course, a few counterexamples, dramatic events that do require prompt corrective action: engine failures at low altitude, microburst encounters or rejected takeoffs, for example. Because these “no-time threats” (in the parlance of my airline’s CRM program) happen so rarely in modern airliners but require an immediate rote response, we regularly train for them in full-motion flight simulators. Even go-arounds, which aren’t emergencies but are certainly seldom-seen maneuvers that are fairly easy to goof up, have become emphasis items during training, and our crew briefings now include a refresher on go-around procedures.
I’ve experienced a small handful of “no-time” emergencies in 27 years and 14,000 hours of flying: a momentary engine failure in my Piper Pacer because of contaminated fuel, a partial loss of power in a Cherokee at low altitude, an electrical fire in a flight school light twin, smoke in the cockpit of a Horizon Air Q400, and perhaps five or six rejected takeoffs. All but one of those aborts took place while I was in the right seat, basically along for the ride on one of the few maneuvers that remain the captain’s exclusive domain. My sole high-speed abort was thanks to a captain who overreacted to a momentary door light, a big no-no. I didn’t have a single rejected takeoff during six years in the left seat at my last airline, so I was a bit surprised to find myself performing my first RTO as a new Boeing 737 captain this past August, with just over 100 hours in the airplane.
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