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Engine Instruments

It is important to remember other instruments available in the cockpit, especially the engine instruments. Including engine instruments in the scan helps to identify potential problems before they become full emergencies.

I was well trained as an instrument pilot, not by my lone efforts, but by paying attention to the Delta Airline pilot who taught me. I was taught to look at the engine instruments in my scan every few minutes. Sometimes, especially during and after takeoff, the engine instruments should be scanned more frequently.

While flying for the airline, I once noticed strange readings coming on the power reading for one of the jet engines on the aircraft I flew. I also began to feel yawing tendencies in the aircraft. Quickly, the other pilot and I made the decision to pull power back and return to the departure airport for landing. The problem continued to worsen, and I am glad we noticed the problem before the engine completely failed.

Most engine and other problems can be detected long before they become ‘an emergency.’ In IMC conditions, where options are often limited in emergency situations, it’s good to know if a system is starting to fail. You may detect a loss in oil pressure, excessive cylinder head temperatures, or a loss of sensory data.

The tachometer, engine oil pressure and temperature, cylinder head temperature, and fuel gauges should be included in the scan for piston engine aircraft. There may be additional instruments in your aircraft that should also be included in your checks.