6.6.3 Emergency Procedures
Emergency Equipment and its Use 3
Fire extinguishers 4
First Aid Kit 6
Engine/Cabin Fires 9
Engine Fires 9
Cabin Fires 10
Flammable Goods/Pressurized Containers 12

Emergency Equipment and its Use

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Different aircraft will have different emergency equipment, based on the operation they are used in; is it a training organisation, Part 135 Charter, Part 121 Chart, non-commercial etc? For the Private Pilot, emergency equipment in the aircraft comprises of a first aid kit, and a fire extinguisher.

It’s a good idea to carry your own personal “emergency grab bag”, containing items such as a snack, water, signal strips, and electrolyte sachets. Some pilots also carry a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), a GPS (don’t forget spare batteries) and even a crash axe (though a pocketknife is a very versatile and far less cumbersome tool).

Regardless of the equipment you carry, always make sure that it is securely stowed, easily accessible, and that it hasn’t expired.
Fire extinguishers

There are 5* different classes of fires.
• Class A
o Combustible Materials
o Flammable solids i.e. everyday items – material, wood, cloth, rubber, paper etc
• Class B
o Flammable liquids
• Class C
o Electrical
• Class D
o Metals
• Class E*
o Live electrical apparatus (most publications don’t recognise a “E Class”)
• Class F
o Involving cooking oils
o “Kitchen fires”
Regardless of the type of fire, they require three things in order to burn: a heat source, fuel and air. Also known as the “Fire Triangle”. (Note: some publications refer to it as a “Fire Quadrilateral”, with the fourth component being the chemical reaction that allows the other three to combust.)

Depending on the class of fire, different methods can be used to eliminate one of the three “arms” of the fire triangle, thereby stopping the fire.

In aircraft, a variety of things can burn, from electrical wiring to the upholstery, to the fuselage to the fuel in the tanks, and the clothes you are wearing. Nylon fabrics can be particularly nasty as they could melt into your skin!

A nylon shirt set on fire to show how quickly the fabric melts and forms a molten plastic mess.

Now, it won’t do well to use water on an electrical fire. And we can’t carry one of each type of fire extinguisher in the aircraft.

So as a compromise Bromochlorodifluoromethane (BCF), or “halon” fire extinguishers are used on aircraft. They are able to extinguish most classes of fire. Whilst they have been banned in most industries due to their negative effect on the environment, they are still widely used in aviation.

Don’t ever fly with anything other than a halon fire extinguisher. How do you know if it’s halon? The bottle is normally marked with a green band (think of the green environment) and most brands will also state “Halon” or “BCF” on the bottle.

When it comes to making sure the fire extinguisher in the aircraft is serviceable, there are a few things to look for. Just ask your fire extinguisher “DO (you) PASS”?

D – O – P – A – S – S
• Date – expiry date, when last was it serviced?
• Operable – is the handle you depress to discharge the contents in good condition?
• PSI – in the green?
• Amount – pick it up and see if matches the weight on the bottle
• Sealed – pin secure?
• Secure – latched in properly?

Also remember to check that the bracket it fits in to is secure (they are normally attached to the aircraft itself), and the catch properly latched. A fire extinguisher can become a lethal projectile in the event of turbulence or a sudden stop. Also ensure that you can easily reach and release the fire extinguisher in the event of an emergency. Packing all of your flying kit and padkos on top of it isn’t going to benefit anyone!

There are four main types of fire extinguishers.
• Water
• Dry Powder
• Carbon Dioxide
• Foam
• Wet Chemical
We also find:
• Vapourising Liquids (BCF/Halon)
• Fire Blankets

Below is a table comparing the various types of fire extinguishers and what class of fire they are best suited to extinguish. Please note that depending on where a publication was issued, there might be slight differences on the types (and colour labels) of the various fire extinguishers. This is to be used as a general guideline.

Type of Fire Extinguisher Class A Class B Class C Class D Electrical Class F
Combustible Materials (paper, fabric etc) Flammable liquids (fuel, hydraulic fluid) Flammable gases Flammable metals Electrical Equipment Cooking oil
Dry Powder
Carbon Dioxide
Wet Chemical
Green means it is effective against the class of fire. Red means don’t use it on that class of fire!
Whilst the dry powder fire extinguishers are very versatile, they are not to be used in aircraft. This is due to the corrosive nature of the powder, especially to chemical equipment, and due to the fact that once discharged, the powder causes a blinding, choking cloud.
Below are some examples of the other types of fire extinguishers you might come across. Bla?
First Aid Kit

It is a South African Civil Aviation Authority legal requirement to fly with a first aid kit on board. It doesn’t have to be a big, fancy medical bag, but the SACAA does require that is suits certain requirements.

Under the Civil Aviation Regulations, Part 91.04.13:
“First aid and universal precaution kits
91.04.13 (1) No owner or operator of an aircraft used in general aviation operations shall operate the aircraft unless such aircraft is equipped with the first aid kit consisting of the medical supplies as prescribed in Document SA-CATS 91.
(2) The owner or operator shall carry out periodical inspections of the first aid kit to ensure that, as far as practicable, the contents thereof are in a condition necessary for their intended use.
(3) The contents of the first aid kit shall be replenished at regular intervals, in accordance with instructions contained on their labels, or as circumstances require.
(4) The first aid kit shall be readily accessible to the crew or passengers.”

The Civil Aviation Technical Standards, Part 91.04.13 state that:

Standard first aid kits

The following medical supplies shall, as a minimum, be included in the current first aid kit for aircraft –

(a) bandage (unspecified);

(b) burns dressings (unspecified);

(c) wound dressings, large and small;

(d) adhesive tape, safety pins and scissors;

(e) small adhesive dressings;

(f) antiseptic wound cleaner;

(g) adhesive wound closures;

(h) adhesive tape;

(i) disposable resuscitation aid;

(j) temperature reading device (non-mercury);

(k) simple analgesic e.g. paracetamol (see Note);

(l) nasal decongestant (see Note);

(m) gastrointestinal antacid (see Note);

(n) disposable glove;

(o) first aid handbook; and

(p) a list of contents.
Note – The owner or operator shall ensure that only Schedule 0 medication is included in the first aid kits. The Department of Health has issued exclusions to previously accepted Schedule 0 medications. Owners or operators must consult a qualified pharmacist if they intend to include Schedule 0 medications in their first aid kit.

(2) Unless the standard first aid kit is clearly visible, its location must be indicated by a placard or sign. Appropriate symbols may be used to supplement the placard or sign.

(3) An aircraft shall be equipped with the following number of standard first aid kits –

Number of passenger seats installed Number of standard first aid kits required
0 to 100
101 to 200
201 to 300
301 to 400
401 to 500
500 and more 1
2. Additional medical supplies

(1) An owner or operator of aeroplanes with a maximum certificated take-off mass exceeding 5 700kg or equipped with one or more turbojet engines and for which the aeroplane was certificated for greater than 9 passenger seats shall carry, in addition to the first aid kit specified in section 1(2) of this TS, at least the additional first aid kits in the following table –

Number of passenger seats installed Number of additional first aid kits required
10 to 100
101 to 200
201 to 300
301 to 400
401 to 500
500 and more 1

The contents of each first aid kit shall be as prescribed in section 1(1).
3. Location
An owner or operator shall ensure that the medical supplies specified in sections 1 and 2 are readily accessible for use and, when more than one of each type of kit is carried, they are distributed as evenly as practicable throughout the passenger cabin.

Like the fire extinguisher, store the first aid kit in a please that is easily accessible during your flight.

Example of a typical first aid kit
Engine/Cabin Fires

Fire pose a great risk to aircraft and their occupants. They could occur during any phase of flight, and even on the ground before you have even had a chance to start up.

Each aircraft will have its own specific procedure to follow in the event of a fire, depending on the type of fire and the phase of flight. You will find most light piston aircraft have the same general procedure. It is important to know the actions in the event of a fire so that you can react in as short a time as possible.

It is always a good idea to carry out the drills and actions every few flights to make sure that you are proficient. It is also interesting to practice getting out of the aircraft whilst it is stopped on the ground (engine not running) to see how long it takes you to undo your seat belt and open the door.

As we learnt in the fire extinguishers section, we have a fire triangle, where in order for a fire to burn, we need a heat source, ignition source, and fuel to burn. By eliminating one, a fire can be stopped in its tracks (in most cases).

Engine Fires

In the case of an engine fire, there are a few scenarios:
1. Engine fire during start – engine hasn’t started
2. Engine fire during start – engine has started
3. Engine fire in flight
4. Engine fire on the ground

Below is a summary of the typical actions required for a piston aircraft.
NOTE: This is a generic summary. Please refer to the Aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook for the full procedures for that specific aircraft. Always follow procedures as laid out in the Pilot Operating Handbook!
1. Engine fire during start – engine hasn’t started
a. Keep cranking – the idea is that the fire will be sucked into the cylinders of the engine.
b. Throttle – OPEN
c. Mixture – IDLE CUT-OFF
d. Fire extinguisher – OBTAIN
e. Engine – secure
i. Ignition –OFF
ii. Master – OFF
iii. Fuel – OFF

2. Engine fire during start – engine has started
a. Power – 1700rpm – again, the aim is to try draw the fire into the engine
b. Shutdown
c. Secure engine and evacuate as above

3. Engine fire in flight
a. Mixture – IDLE CUT-OFF
b. Fuel – OFF
c. Master – OFF
d. Cabin heat and air – CLOSED
e. Speed – 105 KIAS
f. Forced landing – EXECUTE

When it comes to in-flight fires, also consider your altitude. Are you able to descend at high indicated airspeed without exceeding Vne in order to blow the fire out? Or are you too low to put it in a dive? Is it turbulent and do you risk exceeding Va?

Cabin Fires

Cabin fires can range from electrical fires, to unruly passengers setting something on fire. The more likely is an electrical fire.
Below is a summary of the typical actions required for a piston aircraft.
NOTE: This is a generic summary. Please refer to the Aircraft Pilot Operating Handbook for the full procedures for that specific aircraft. Always follow procedures as laid out in the Pilot Operating Handbook!

1. Electrical fire in flight: Master – OFF
Avionics – OFF
Other switches (NOT ignition) – OFF
Vents – CLOSED (in order to provide less oxygen for the fire)
Fire extinguisher – ACTIVATE
If fire is extinguished,
Master – ON
Circuit breakers – CHECK
Radios – OFF
Avionics – ON
Radios – ON (one at a time)
Vents – OPEN (in order to ventilate the cabin and clear any smoke.)

A lot of people panic during this scenario in the training environment, and proceed to include shutting down the engine as one of the actions required. An electrical fire doesn’t mean the engine will stop, and having the engine running is unlikely to make the electrical fire any worse. The priority is to eliminate the fuel source- in this case simply switching off the Master and Avionics switches should do this. You might lose a system, such as electrical flaps, but you will still be able to fly the plane and land safely.

Some aircraft pilot operating handbooks state to reset circuit breakers and switch electrical systems back on one by one once the fire has been extinguished. Be cautious of this, as it could re-ignite the fire, and if you have already used your fire extinguisher, you will be very short on options!

2. Cabin fire: Master – OFF
Vents – CLOSED
Fire extinguisher – ACTIVATE

Again, this is a generic procedure. Your particular scenario migh be different and require a different set of actions. Always assess the situation as best you can, and then decide on the best course of action.

In emergency situations it is easy to panic and become overloaded, or even freeze completely. Always remember to fly the plane. Emergency drills should be practiced often so that you get more confident or your ability, and to ensure that you know the specific actions required for the specific aircraft you are flying.

Aviate – Navigate – Communicate

Flammable Goods/Pressurized Containers

Whilst not required for the Private Pilot, attending a Dangerous Goods course can be very beneficial. There you will learn about the various classes of Dangerous Codes, and the associated risks and hazards they pose to pilots, passengers, and aircraft.

Dangerous Goods can be obvious, such as weapons or explosives, while seemingly innocent items can pose a serious risk to the safety of the flight – these are called “Hidden Dangerous Goods”, and can be something as simple as a bottle of deodorant.

Warning label on a tin of deodorant

Certain items should never be stored together – did you know you can make a bomb out chlorine and milk? An otherwise safe good could become dangerous if it comes into contact with another substance.

There are also items which should never be carried on an aircraft, these are “Forbidden Dangerous Goods”, and include chlorine, thinners, turpentine, anti-freeze, and adhesives. In commercial aviation, provisions can be made for the carriage of dangerous goods, and all sorts of laws and regulations and safety standards must be met.
If you’re unsure of whether or not it’s safe to take something on a flight, look at the packaging. Does it have a flammable label? Does it have any warnings on the packaging?

Going away for the weekend? Pack your overnight bag securely in the aircraft where it won’t be in direct sunlight, and where nothing could fall on – or squash – it and puncture that can of deodorant or other container.

Also remember your fire extinguisher is a pressurized container, and should not be kept in direct sunlight. If there’s any sign of a weak point, or you are unsure of whether or not it is safe and/or operable, take it to be checked out before you commence your flight.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution and rather don’t fly with it.

International Airline Transport Association guidelines for dangerous goods, often found at airline check-in counters