Did you say one engine failure, IMC over the Alps?

The more I think about it, the more my consideration for this pilots gets higher.

Facts first: today an Hungary-registered Piper PA-34 Seneca twin engine airplane, flying from Slovenia to France, had a right-engine failure while at about FL150 (flight level 150 or 15.000 feet above the standard pressure isobar of 1013,25 hPa or 29.92 inHg) over the Alps, roughly 30 Nautical Miles north of Milan Malpensa airport (LIMC or MXP if you want to look up the ICAO or IATA code).

Weather in Malpensa has been awful the whole morning, with ceiling and/or cloud base ranging from 400 scattered to 200 feet broken (or right at the minima for an approach in that kind of airplane).
Moderate rain has fallen for the whole morning, and clouds top were pretty high with the occasional ice formation that accompanies this clouds at medium altitude.

This pilot carried a textbook descent and approach to an ILS arrival for runway 35L to an uneventful landing.

Even just overcoming the initial shock and fear takes some real strength, even more if you are in such challenging weather conditions.

Flying a crippled airplane in IMC all the way down from 15000 feet to 4000 to join the ILS, all while avoiding losing control of it and trying to stay above the mountains take real balls and good training.

I don’t care whatever reason put him in this situation, the way he came out of it unscathed, safe and with an airplane that is flyable again with just an engine repair, is a great job worth praising.

In my 10 year ATC experience I have seen a few emergencies, ranging between a bizjet landing with just the nose gear extended, to an MD-82 declaring an engine fire immediately after takeoff (this was the scariest and most adrenaline pumping of them), but those were all confronted with an experienced (or at least thoroughly trained) professional crew, that carries out simulations of those conditions every few months.

This one instead had to be managed and taken to a safe and happy conclusion by a single pilot, probably also the owner of the airplane, a person that probably doesn’t fly more than 200 hours annually, and this is what makes it even more noteworthy in a world where general aviation is usually put in a bad light by the too many accident that happens so frequently.

So again, kudos to this great pilot, you did a great service not just to yourself, but to the whole world of general aviation.


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