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Home > Flying the Plane > Can a Boeing 747 glide when it loses all engines in a tropical country?
Can a Boeing 747 glide when it loses all engines in a tropical country?
Flying - Flying the Plane
Friday, 29 June 2012 15:43

Mayday - Falling From the Sky (British Airways Flight 9)
 
Hello Capt Lim,

I am 14 years old and someone told me that in the tropical country, when a Boeing 747 loses all engine power, the plane cannot glide because the air there is more moist and thicker whereas the air in the US or Canada is dry.

So my question is, can you really glide a Boeing 747 in the tropical country without engine power? Also, how long will it glide and is it difficult to control an aircraft without any engines?

Manuel

Hi Manuel,

For a plane to glide there must be air regardless of whether the air is moist or dry. So it is not true that in the Tropics, a plane, whether it is a Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, will not glide in case of all engines failure.

On 24 June 1982, a British Airways Boeing 747 lost all 4 engines whilst flying over Indonesia because it flew into a cloud of volcanic ash. The aircraft was able to glide far enough to exit the ash cloud and all engines were restarted but one failed again soon after. (See video above.)

A Boeing 747 will glide around 100 nautical miles from 40,000 feet depending on the winds, long enough for it to get the engines restarted as in the case of British Airways Flight 9 above.

A plane on a glide is controllable just like a plane on a descent except that it would be on emergency electrical and hydraulic power – more sluggish but manageable (see Gimli Glider videos below) as all pilots are taught to glide the plane as part of their training.

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RE: Can a Boeing 747 glide when it loses all engines in a tropical country?
Dear Capt Lim,

I m a fan of you, every time I fly with Airasia, the first thing I do onboard inside the aircraft is to flip through the magazine and look for your article. It is so informative and exciting.

Anyway, after reading your explanation about the incident above, I have a further question in regards to your answer.

I just watched a program last week on National Geographic about the incident of West Carribean airline 708, the aircraft has fallen immediately after it lost both engine power, without gliding.

I hope Capt Lim can further explain this why the Boeing 747 can be able to guide while the West Caribbean Airline aircraft cannot.

Many thanks.
Your Fans.
Lim S Moon

Lim , 16 Oct, 2012
The Plane That Flew Too High


Please see the answer here http://www.askcaptainlim.com/-...-high.html
Captain Lim , 19 Oct, 2012

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