Most folks fly multi engine aircraft for two main reasons.
1. Better performance in the form of greater load carrying capabilities, climb rate, range and speed.
2. Greater Safety - not only in the form of a backup engine, but also in terms of redundant systems.
When flown by a pilot who is proficient, well trained and not breaking the rules - the twin is a safer airplane.
BEECH DUCHESS 76
Rule # 1
RESPECT THE AIRCRAFT'S LIMITATION
As a new multi engine pilot the first time you go tearing down the runway, it can be a real rush. The airplane leaps off the ground and you feel like you could do almost anything. Of course, we know that's not literally true, but the mindset does have a way of bleeding over into real life thinking.
There are two things to keep in mind here.
It’s a critical point that’s too often overlooked. Depending on conditions there is no guarantee that you'll be able to climb or even maintain altitude with a failed engine in a typical piston twin. And that’s assuming you do everything right - Not only feathering a propeller and using the correct controlling but raising gear and flaps and keeping them up until landing is assured.
Having that extra engine will result in one of two things. 1 - It gives you extra time to find to find a place to land or 2 - It gets you to your crash site faster.
There is also an issue of initial training which in many cases is not a good indicator of what to expect in real life. Most times they give you one flight instructor and a half tank of fuel in the spring or fall. That aircraft is going to react totally differently in the summer if you're at a high-density altitude airport and/or if you've got a full load of people on board.
Rule # 2
PLAN LIKE A PRO
It may not sound fair, but even though you shouldn't treat your miniature piston twin like a miniature airliner you should aspire to flight plan like a professional pilot. This is simply because the range of possibility is greater and in many cases the margin for error is slimmer.
Before takeoff you know all I am going to be able to do is find a field and land. This isn’t going to climb and even necessarily bring me back to the airport. That also means giving special considerations airports with nearby terrain. In recent years, the use flight risk assessment tools and safety management systems have become much more common in corporate and charter flying.
The goal is to have a better backdrop for decisions that used to be entirely on the pilot’s shoulders and there's no reason you can't use the same thing.
Rule # 3
CUT YOURSELF SOME SLAC
We have all heard it before, the performance numbers in your POH/AFM were achieved by professional test pilots flying brand new airplanes. It is important to think of those numbers as best case scenarios rather than expected outcomes. Do you really want to find out if you can simulate that to the edge? It’s always good common knowledge to give yourself a bit extra (leeway).
So how do you go about giving yourself that extra margin? There are no set margins. It’s all about personal minimums. Maybe you can add 50% to the accelerate stop distance or rather going with half tanks instead of topping them off. Either way flying with personal minimums is an excellent practice.
Many accidents in twins are caused by a loss of directional control. The so called VMC ROLL which happens when you drop below the speed at which control inputs can compensate for differential thrust and other forces with one engine failed and full throttle on the other. Typically, multi engine aircraft have anywhere from rotation to about 400 feet is the critical point.
A400M Test Pilot enters his Craft
Rule # 4
PROFICIENCY IS KEY
Last and perhaps most important is the thing that makes the rest of this possible. Staying proficient in the airplane. That not only means emergency operations, but staying proficient in the airplane as well. Complacency has always been an issue because when you’re out all by yourself, you’re not going to think of pulling the engine out on takeoff roll. This is especially important for larger or less common twins.
For many owners, the cost of proficiency has always been an issue. The good news is that you don’t always have to spend a ton of money to stay proficient. A lot of proficiency is just being mentally engaged in the subject and newer simulators are great for practicing procedures in different scenarios at a much cheaper rate.
Another thing to remember is that abnormal and emergency situations aren’t limited to the things that we commonly practice in training. We rarely talk about partial power loss, but in reality, it’s much more common than an outright engine failure.
Finally, proficiency will help you to both speed up and slow-down in the cockpit. That may sound strange but by speed up - We mean it helps you anticipate in abnormal situations. By slow down - we mean that you’ll be calmer and less likely to rush a make common mistakes.
Of course, there is a lot more to flying twins than what’s covered here, but by following these 4 guidelines you’ll be in a much better position to really take advantage of the greater safety offered by that extra engine.
Chief holds both FAA, EASA & NCAA