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View Full Version : Flame out, unable to start, where will you put it down???


Panama Jack
23rd May 2008, 22:37
Here is the scenario. You are flying a large passenger-carrying multi-engine jet transport aircraft. You've suffered complete powerplant failure and you are unable to restart.

There are two types of areas where you can put it down.

a) A body of water (ocean, lake, river).
b) A relatively flat area of land that is covered in small trees (lets say up to 4 meters high)

I was having a similar discussion with a considerably more experienced airline pilot and it seems he would prefer to put it down in the water, which surprised me and is the opposite of my thinking. The ditching of the Ethiopian 767 didn't look very pretty.

ix_touring
23rd May 2008, 22:53
Think about freeway/motorway junctions in the US. Why do they use yellow barrels filled with water and not tree trunks as crash barriers?

Think about the video of the 707 (?) used to demonstrate the non flammable new fuel... the test landing strip was littered with tree like steaks in order to rip the aircraft to pieces in order to release the fuel...

i.e. water better, trees and stumps bad!

How many survived the Ethiopian ditch Vs how many survived the Air France A300 crash into trees at the air show... (lots vs 0)

In one of the monthly mags this month (in the UK) there is an article about small aircraft ditching. One contributor didn't get his feet wet and put his luggage into the raft too!

Assuming you have control then go for the land but if its covered in 4m trees.. no! There's a lot of wood in a 4m tree....

iX

Pace
23rd May 2008, 22:57
I think it would very much depend on how smooth the water is. Flying above water at altitude can be very comforting. Its only when you get close and see the size of the waves and the brick wall effect of hitting them that you would realise the magnitude of the task of putting down on water.

The same goes with 4 metre high trees. They could do a lot of damage. Again could you find a clear path through them?

A fairly straight river would be a good option, so would some roads.

With either you would need to avoid hitting anything hard ,water or trees and with water you would not want to survive the landing only for everyone to drown or be eaten by crocks :-)

Every situation requires a different choice water or trees is too vague on their own,

Pace

lomapaseo
23rd May 2008, 23:31
There are two types of areas where you can put it down.

a) A body of water (ocean, lake, river).
b) A relatively flat area of land that is covered in small trees (lets say up to 4 meters high)


#1 keep the wings level, and avoid robust vertical objects taller than your wings.

flyr767
23rd May 2008, 23:44
I'd rather land on a highway or attempt in a field someplace than try for water. While it stands to reason you have a pretty good chance when landing in water, fact is once you start to touch the water at such a high speed you're going to start to break up. Once the engines and wings begin to "dig" into the water and break apart, well there goes the neighborhood.

parabellum
23rd May 2008, 23:54
"How many survived the Ethiopian ditch Vs how many survived the Air France A300 crash into trees at the air show... (lots vs 0)"

ix_touring Think you will find it was an A320 at the French air show and a lot, yes a lot of the pax did survive. That said the Ethiopian ditching might have been more successful if the Captain didn't have to wrestle over the controls with a nutter hijacker who wanted to crash the aircraft.

fdcg27
24th May 2008, 00:53
I would think that the choice is not one anybody would likely be confronted with. Nonethless, let me throw my (steeply depreciated) two cents in.
I would go for the trees. Unless you centerpunch a large tree with the aircraft, everybody is likely to get away alive. The small trees wil absorb energy in the process of being mown down, and the airplane structure will aborb energy in the process of having pieces of its wings and empenage ripped off.
In water, there is the danger of digging in, and ending up inverted. Also, the aircraft might sink very rapidly, leaving many on board to drown. On average, I think that a land arrival would be more survivable. The airplane won't sink or cartwheel, and you won't need to worry about drowning.

Angels 60
24th May 2008, 01:24
757? Ran out of fuel in Canada, dead sticked to an old drag strip? Did a fine job I thought.

Hard to find an experienced 'crash pilot' but I tend to remember the statistic that most people die from smoke inhalation, then the fire, then the impact. I could park a plane just about anywhere, but I'm worried about a fire...

Best case, dead stick to that big runway, right below...One Canandian pilot joked that no US pilot should have to do an off airport landing given all the airports we have...

My last and only real dead stick, I was fortunate to have a GPS with the emergency function, give's closest airports, and thier info at the push of one button.

Once I started flying larger planes, surprised to find my FMS's didn't have runway length info, like a simple GPS, just a three letter identifier going by on the MFD..really would rather not get a dead stick and have to pull out my AP/FD thumbing through the pages just to see if THAT airport was long enough..oops...no ok, turn to that other three letter identifier, a little farther away...look it up...oops...nope. Ofcourse ATC might help here...'give me a place to land!' Bad deal if your IMC and can't see the airport untill you break out at 3000 ft....dead stick to the ILS...something I might try in the sim one of these days....

reverserunlocked
24th May 2008, 01:37
133 out of 136 pax survived the Habsheim A320 crash - 50 out of 175 survived the 767 ditching in the Cormoros islands.

It's hard to do a like-for-like comparison anyway as the two crashes were different; as pointed out the 767's skipper was being attacked by a hijacker with the crash axe on the way down but salvation arrived for many who might not have survived in the form of a doctor's conference taking place in the hotel next to the beach where they put down. Also the A320 went into the tree line in a slow, nose high position with flaps and gear set meaning the energy of the crash wasn't as high as it might have been.

SNS3Guppy
24th May 2008, 01:49
Hard to find an experienced 'crash pilot' but I tend to remember the statistic that most people die from smoke inhalation, then the fire, then the impact. I could park a plane just about anywhere, but I'm worried about a fire...


One can't die of smoke, then fire, then impact in that order. Only if you survive the impact do you have a chance of dying of the smoke or fire...assuming it's not an inflight fire, of course.

If one is to die in an aircraft mishap, the cause doesn't change the death; if one dies of impact or burns to death of asphixiates, then one is still just as dead; the mechanism of injury is largely superfluous.

If we are discussing a forced landing (which I've done), getting down and getting stopped is the first priority. Preventing a fire is by design of the aircraft, something not largely under control of the flight crew. The larger the aircraft, the lower the chances of the aircraft resisting deformation or breaking up, and the the greater the chances of a post impact fire.

Yes, smoke often gets people long before they actually burn, but again, that's immaterial, and aircraft don't provide smoke hoods for passengers, nor ancillary breathing devices.

I've been in very hot fires, both live emergencies, and training fires, including flashovers which at their peak exceed two thousand degrees (not where I was but in the upper reaches of the conflagration). I've been in fires that melted glass, and burned off the nomex, melted the rubber, and crazed the masks in our self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). Without the proper gear, none of those situations were survivable, and with the proper gear, they weren't always survivable. I've bee on and in fires in which people died. As recently as two years ago, in fact. Even with all the proper gear and being in the right place at the right time, many of those situations are only survivable for a short period of time.

Point is, that in a serious crash, especially one involving fire, assuming that one does survive the initial impact, the incident itself doesn't afford a great deal of time before it becomes unsurvivable as conditions continue to deteriorate.

The Gimli glider had two things going for it; no fuel (a positive thing in a forced landing), and luck.

The chief concern isn't where to put a large airplane down, but doing everything possible to prevent that from becoming necessary in the first place.

In smaller aircraft, which are generally imminently more survivable, reducing vertical speeds to a minimum, reducing impact speeds to a minimum, using the wings to absorb impact (in the case of setting the airplane down in trees, etc), attempting to end the flight in a location that affords good recuer access, and many other factors work toward survivability. Remember, at this stage you're in a state of emergency; things are already bad. Don't hope for a miracle, but do everything in your power to seek some level of improvement, or at a bare minimum, to prevent it from deteriorating any further.

Angels 60
24th May 2008, 03:16
What I meant to say Guppy, is the majority of airplane crash victims, had burns in thier lungs...postulating that most people die of smoke inhalation of plastics ect...before they ever were burned...Impact injuries were statisticaly the the last cause of death.

No doubt preventing this from happening is the initial goal, but 'things happen'...4 engine outs in my career so far...none of which were planned, nor could I have prevented.

If one through decent judgement of landing sites and ability, eliminate the impact risk, then logicaly the fire risk is next...

Water landings start looking better and better...having been a competative swimmer in h.s. I might take my chances of putting it into a placid Canadian lake before I would the miles of mountains and forests that surround it...just try to get it as close to shore as possible, so I don't freeze to death..since I can't build a fire to save my life at home, I would probably just go numb on the shore...

And I said a placid lake...not 'Lake Placid' :)

PK-KAR
24th May 2008, 06:56
Hard to find an experienced 'crash pilot'
Want to be introduced to a nutter who's crashed 3 twotters and lived? *no thanks*
Or a line pilot who ditched twice in his career with no or few fatalities and lived to tell the tale? (I've yet to confirm the record)

It's hard to do a like-for-like comparison anyway as the two crashes were different; as pointed out the 767's skipper was being attacked by a hijacker with the crash axe on the way down but salvation arrived for many who might not have survived in the form of a doctor's conference taking place in the hotel next to the beach where they put down.
And most of the fatalities were due to inflating the lifevests inside the cabin right? Drowned as they get pushed against the ceiling...

Talking about flameout, unable to start, with fuel on board, happened to a Garuda 733 a few years back due to excessive water ingestion in the descent, chose a river instead of football field, 1 fatality (F/A) due to being knocked out while evacuating. Just with the standby instruments... not too bad of an outcome... had he chosen the football field, we'd see a higher death toll (ground casualties), he didn't see the dyke on each end of the footy field until he clamored up the river bank after evacuating...

PK-KAR

bflyer
24th May 2008, 07:47
Hi everybody

Personally...i'd rather have a relatively flat area of land over a large body of water...can't seem to get that B767 image off my mind

lomapaseo
24th May 2008, 11:50
Personally...i'd rather have a relatively flat area of land over a large body of water...can't seem to get that B767 image off my mind

Bad things are bound to happen when you land on anything with a left wing 25 deg down

parabellum
24th May 2008, 12:05
"Once I started flying larger planes, surprised to find my FMS's didn't have runway length info, like a simple GPS, just a three letter identifier going by on the MFD.."

On the 'glass' Boeings that I have flown the FMC will only show airfields that have a runway long enough to take that type of aircraft.

con-pilot
24th May 2008, 17:17
Talking about flame-out, unable to start, with fuel on board, happened to a Garuda 733 a few years back due to excessive water ingestion in the descent, chose a river instead of football field,

An El Salvador flagged 737 had a double flame out for the same reason a few years back in New Orleans. The pilot landed on a dike, gear down and everybody walked away. In fact the aircraft was flown out a few days later, I think it was anyway.

I'll try and find the accident report.

Okay, here it is, not an Mexican aircraft, but El Salvador TACA Airlines.

http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19880524-0&lang=nl

Picture of same.

http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c246/con-pilot/1.jpg

OutOfRunWay
25th May 2008, 16:39
Wasnt there an accident with Reeve Aleutean Airlines, where they had a dual engine failure on approach and the guy did some quick thinking and landed on the frozen river? Luckily the ice held, and after they dragged the plane ashore, they had her flying again after a week or so?

That must be the ideal surface, flat, slippery and so hard, you wont dig in..

regards,
OORW

White Knight
28th May 2008, 06:45
I guess it rather depends where you are really - we do a lot of VERY long over water sectors - ie 1000NM plus away from land...
I'd rather put it down on solid ground though..

punkalouver
12th Jun 2008, 03:04
Before you put it down in water, you might want to think about what the water temp is at this time of year in many places is still very cold.....hypothermia.

chornedsnorkack
12th Jun 2008, 18:16
Wasn´t there a Brazilian 737 which got lost, ran out of fuel and had a forced deadstick landing in treetops - at night! With multiple survivors.