When departing or arriving at an airport the pilot must check the local weather to verify if it is not below any minimums, VFR or IFR. These minimums must also take the capabilities of the airplane and the crew into account. If one of these are not met, the departure or approach must be aborted. At this point the flight must be delayed or divert to the alternate destination or even return.
Make sure to check the weather at your alternate before diverting there. Also keep an eye on the amount of fuel onboard, which is easily overlooking during any distraction. The checklists presented here can help you with these important items.
Should a diversion, due to changes in the enroute or destination weather become necessary, changes in your flight plan should be made. The same must be done for your fuel log requirements with respect to flight time, legal reserve and contingency fuel regarding the new destination.
When the fuel situation is getting low, do decide early enough to divert to the nearest suitable alternate (that might not always be the alternate on your flight plan) before the fuel state gets critical. Do not delay this decision. Verify the POH for the correct power and RPM for maximum range to minimize fuel consumption and to extend range with current fuel onboard.
If the fuel situation gets critical and it is doubtful that there is not enough fuel to get to the diversion aerodrome, then a precautionary landing with a running engine is the best option compared to trying to land with the engine stopped. Make sure that you know the emergency checklists! Get on the radio to do a PAN-PAN call stating position, intentions and fuel state. Do not hesitate to declare an emergency (you will get priority) when the nearest aerodrome turns out to be controlled.
When the engine fails this is important. Control the aircraft before planning the approach to a landing area and starting the engine checks, do know the best glide speed! If you have the time (i.e. enough altitude) run the engine emergency checklist for your type of engine and aircraft. If this does not work, communicate your position, intentions and concentrate on the approach and landing ahead. Brief your passengers so that they do not panic. Tip: let them help you find a good landing spot and keep them informed.
Again, make sure that you are completely familiar with the emergency procedures and systems of the airplane you are flying.
This checklist below helps visualizing the weather, any NOTAMs obtained via radio can also be written down for later reference:
|ATIS Code||Date/Time (UTC)|
|Temperature||Dew point||Wind direction||Speed|
|Altimeter||Runway in use|
|NOTAMs/ Notes/ Clearances|
In case a diversion to your alternate becomes necessary due to weather at the destination or any valid reason, you can use the checklist below for reference, after you determined a suitable alternate:
|Measure Heading||Reset DI|
|Fuel Burn||Fuel Remaining|
|Update Flightplan and Inform FSS|
Use all available navigation methods to your disposal: pilotage, radio NAV, GPS, and dead reckoning to find your way to the alternate airport. But remember: these checklist are only to assist the pilot. In case of a real emergency the pilot has the right to do anything to assure a safe outcome.