I Do Declare – Plane & Pilot Magazine | Aviation

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The silence was deafening.

On April 26, 2022, at approximately 11:12 a.m. ET, while in level VFR flight at 2,000 agl and cruising over the nondescript Ohio landscape, 2,000-hour-plus pilot Marc Epner experienced the unthinkable in his Cirrus SR22, N973SD—a total engine failure.

Cue the sweaty palms.

What makes this event unique is the fact that the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System, affectionately referred to as CAPS, was intentionally, albeit not consciously, not activated as Epner recalls. “The brain told me what to do,” he says. “I knew exactly what to do and reacted accordingly.” This included establishing the best glide speed, picking out a suitable landing area, a restart attempt, sending out a Mayday call on Guard—121.5—and successfully landing the airplane. Elapsed time from engine failure to safe landing: 1 minute, 36 seconds.

While the timing of the event had a positive outcome—10 minutes later and the failure would have occurred over a populated Cleveland, which would likely have necessitated the need to activate the CAPS with unknown results—Epner never doubted the need to declare an emergency to ATC. In fact, it can be said that if you are questioning whether you must declare an emergency, in all likelihood, you should. Once the “startle effect” at the outset of the engine failure subsided, previous scenario training kicked in with laser focus, allowing for Epner’s successful landing. (For more information on the startle effect, see the article “Scrubbing the Flight” in the September 2023 issue of Plane & Pilot)

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The same cannot be said of an accident that might have been prevented if an emergency had been declared on September 15, 2017. The noninstrument-rated pilot, his wife, and two children took off from Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport (KFNL), now known as Northern Colorado Regional Airport, en route to Canyonlands Regional Airport (KCNY) in Moab, Utah. They found themselves in…

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