Thursday, October 11, 2012

Double Generator Failure

I found this in my drafts folder, I guess I was saving it for a busy day. I've been punting it a month into the future every month. Obviously I'm busy today, because it published.

I had a double generator failure once. I'll spoil any suspense now by saying it was not a big deal. The designers of this airplane knew that electricity was fickle, newfangled stuff and not to be trusted, so no essential system for VFR flight was electrical. We were VFR and it was a beautiful clear day after the invention of cellphones. The master was on, no visible circuit breakers were popped, and there was no smoke or fire smell. The reset for the generators was under the dashboard. With multiple people on board we could have reset them it in flight, but not knowing why they had popped, we elected to leave them off.
Our destination was a reasonable-sized controlled airport, not at an especially busy time, so we just pulled out a cellphone and called them to tell them we were coming. They cleared us to land, I can't remember whether it was by a steady green light on final or they just gave the clearance over the telephone. Possibly both. They seemed far more stressed about the event than I was. I never consider a communications failure to be a showstopper, especially when I manage to make contact another way. And why on earth had they dispatched firetrucks to follow us down the runway?

It was kind of fun mind you, and the firefighters were friendly. I think they like driving their trucks around, especially when thy don't have to pull anyone's charred remains out of a burning airplane, so they were happy when we thanked them and assured them that there was no problem.

At the time, it was the only twin I knew the systems on, so I didn't realize that some aircraft have electrically activated landing gear. ATC was worried that I might not be able to lower the wheels. The only electrical component of this one is the indication system, and extension can be verified by the thumps from the mains plus visual identification of the nose gear in the mirror on the nacelle. The air traffic controllers knew that in general a systems failure on an airplane could be a bad thing, and must have thought I was being cool and not admitting I could have a gear problem. Communication by cellphone in an operating aircraft is not simple. ATC they have this great button up there in the tower for letting the firetrucks out, so why not? So long as we didn't make the local news.

I can't even remember the reason for the failure. We had it checked out at a local shop and were certified good to go for the next leg of our adventure. I think I was reprimanded by the aircraft owner for saying "electrical failure" instead of just "comm failure." He was a need-to-know kind of guy and I'm more of an anything-that-might-be-relevant gal.


Tim G in MN said...

"extension can be verified by the thumps from the mains..." Non-extension can be verified by a scraping sound upon landing. :-)

Cedarglen said...

An OK post, but I've read better in your space.
The 'boss,' the Need-to-know fellow is a jack-ass, for sure.
Nice work from ATC and fire/rescue; even if not needed, it is their job to Be There.
On the really bright side, you are working - FLYING, a lot. That's far better than your posts a bit more than a year ago. Happy Landings and update us when you can. -C.

Anders said...

I found this blog searching around for good aviation sites, and after reading a few posts, I have to say I'll most likely keep coming back. Good writing, good stories. One question about this post, what airplane were you flying?

- Anders

majroj said...

Some reprimands reflect more poorly upon the reprimandeur than the reprimandee. Press on, ma'am.

Anonymous said...

Please come back, we miss you!

Procky said...

I have just recently started following your blog. I have read all of 2008 and most of 09. Please continue with your excellent writing.

Anonymous said...

What he said !

john said...

Ouch! I always come to this site through Flightlevel390 (Captain Dave). Like a nice desert after a great meal, you and Captain Dave.

And now that A320 flying restaurant has closed, not even a sign outside. What happened?

Procky said...

Anyone know what happened to Captain Dave?!!! Have the muses gone, Dave? Aviatrix, wherefore art thou? To whom will the baton be passed? Oh, the horror!

majroj said...

I hate when an aviator's blog goes quiet.

john said...

This is getting serious. I need my fix of vicarious air time, and I'm not getting it.

Captian Dave - just gone, disappeared.

Sulako - has life-changing events taking all his time now.

Our Aviatrix - who knows? Did she find that Canadian Mountie who swept her off her left-hand seat and the two of them are now singing duets on horseback somewhere in the Rockies?

Where does one go now?

Cedarglen said...

Are you gone for good this time? You are missed. If other demands require you to give up this long-running blog, at least say goodbye.
Happy Holidays. -C.