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Home > Airways > Should two-engine planes fly over the seas?
Should two-engine planes fly over the seas?
Flying - Airways
Thursday, 06 December 2007 19:11

Hello Capt Lim!

Thank you for your web site. It is very informative.

My question is, should two-engine planes fly over the seas (versus four-engine planes) ? I have looked at many sites, including yours, and they all indicate that two engine planes are just as safe as four engines. They have also indicated that if a two-engine plane experiences problems with one of its engines, it can still fly for about up to three hours. I don't feel comfortable with this statement if flying over the seas.

Why do some airlines, such as Alitalia, fly two engine planes to Italy? What happens if they lose one of the engines over the ocean? I would think that would take more than three hours to get to land depending on where they are. Am I correct in my assumption?

Thanks!

Toni

Hi Toni,

Please read my topics on ETOPS (extended twin engine operations) and you would begin to understand the philosophy of the modern twin engine jet planes. I am sure you have also read my answers to FAQ on Boeing 777 versus Airbus 340. Airplane jet engines are very reliable today and statistics have shown that, any emergency diversions that were undertaken, were usually due to weather or medical reasons rather than because, one of the engines had failed. In fact, FAA is now studying the possibility of having 3 or 4-engines airplanes adopt some of the current ETOPS regulations.

Alitalia flies the Boeing 777 to New York from Rome. For your information, this airplane is certified to fly for about 3 hours on one engine and if one engine fails, it is often never more than one and a half hours away from any suitable airports on this particular route! I have answered a question from a reader who wants to know where the emergency airports within the Atlantic are. 

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