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Home > Flying on the Boeing 777 > What happens during an engine failure or decompression on the Boeing 777?
What happens during an engine failure or decompression on the Boeing 777?
Flying - Flying on the Boeing 777
Monday, 01 September 2008 07:22
Hi Capt Lim,

How are you Sir? I am a cabin crew with Malaysia Airlines and have just got my CPL/IR.

What happens when you are cruising at about FL250 and you have one engine failure, say on a Boeing 777-200? I guess you would commence a drift down on one engine, but how about the terrain clearance?  

What about decompression? You have to dive down to 10,000 feet but how would you know that you are not going to hit a mountain top? The situation is critical as you dive down but at the same time, you might have obstacles which you might not be sure of its height. 

Thank you very much. May God bless you and your family.


Hi Harry,

All pilots on the Boeing 777 are regularly trained to handle an engine failure or a decompression during a cruise. So, if one ever happens, the drills will be carried out as a matter of course rather than one of panic. All flights across high terrain - especially the route to Europe over the mountainous region of Afghanistan are preplanned for all such exigencies. Pilots are mindful as to the direction of turn in relation to the airways they are flying on if there is a need for them to avoid crashing into high terrain.

When one engine fails, depending on the weight of the plane, the Boeing 777 will drift down to its single-engine ceiling. For instance, if the plane was cruising at 35,000 feet at 250 tons, it would drift down to 21,000 feet should an engine fail during the cruise. Obviously, the pilot knows which direction to turn to if a 22,000 ft mountain was nearby. (The plane has a terrain warning should it wander too close to high ground!)

Should a decompression arise, there is a drill for all pilots that they must descend immediately and "level off at the lowest safe altitude or 10,000 feet, whichever is higher"

Pilots are aware of the terrain and its "lowest safe altitude" at all times. In fact, they brief each other prior to flying over such high grounds. So there is no question of not knowing where the high terrains are or hitting the mountain top!


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Hi there,

Regarding decompression, as you said the pilots discuss the high terrains in advance. But is the 777 itself better equipped to handle or even avoid a decompression from taking place? After all, one only has 20 seconds to retain consciousness and put on the oxygen masks.

Also, I may be traveling on a 737 in the near future, which I am a tad wary of, seeing how many accidents have taken place so far. Have there been improvements made to the airline?

Cheers for any help!
Della , 18 Feb, 2009

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