Can a aircraft fly on only one engine? An aviation knowledgeable explains | CNN

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You’ll have seen the information Qantas flight 144 from Auckland landed safely in Sydney in January after the pilot was compelled to close down an engine and problem a mayday name whereas flying over the Pacific Ocean.

The aircraft was reportedly a 10-year-old, twin-jet Boeing 737 and was carrying 145 passengers, all of whom disembarked usually after touchdown.

These occasions do, sadly, occur sometimes in aviation – I personally have misplaced an engine whereas flying – however the excellent news is it’s extraordinarily uncommon. That makes aviation the most secure type of transport on the earth.

These are extremely educated pilots who spend loads of time in full-motion simulators going over occasions precisely like this.

While you’re down an engine and you’ve got lot of water below you, you have got a course of to observe.

It turns into rote; you don’t panic, you don’t go off the rails, you keep in mind your coaching, and that’s what occurred right here.

Completely. That’s what they’re designed to do.

By legislation, planes have to have the ability to fly from level A to level B, over water, on only one engine. The steerage set by security regulators in Australia mandates that any aircraft that takes off with the intention of attending to a sure vacation spot has to have the ability to get there on one engine – based mostly on the departure masses decided earlier than takeoff.

That rule ensures that even when one engine goes down – as seems to have occurred right here – the aircraft can nonetheless arrive safely. It may possibly fly till it runs out of gas. Mainly, these planes are constructed to fly as effectively on one engine as they will on two.

Having only one engine working means you received’t have the utmost thrust energy for take off, however you’d be capable to fly and land simply tremendous.

However whereas a aircraft can fly on one engine, it is rather uncommon for an engine to go down in the midst of a flight.

Airline upkeep procedures are meticulous and technicians are licensed on the similar degree and high quality as pilots. Usually you have got somebody do the upkeep on a aircraft on the bottom, however they’ve somebody come after them and examine it and check it to ensure it’s working at 100% efficiency.

There are floor checks and flight checks and certification processes that must be adopted earlier than a aircraft can take passengers. That’s why these occasions are so uncommon.

Passengers mentioned they heard a bang throughout the Qantas flight final month.

It’s actually potential for engine failure to make a sound. It is determined by the kind of failure. If it was a bit inside the engine breaking, that might make a noise loud sufficient for passengers to listen to it.

However usually if the pilot wanted to isolate the engine and will see strain fluctuation or engine temperature exceeding regular ranges, then the pilot might select to close it down even earlier than they heard a bang.

Preliminary stories that the aircraft’s air-con subsequently stopped working suggests to me the crew in all probability needed to flip off some programs to attain their purpose of touchdown efficiently again in Sydney.

When an occasion like this occurs, pilots have a course of for scanning their instrumentation to isolate and determine what’s occurring.

As soon as they do, we now have what’s generally known as a Fast Reference Handbook to seek the advice of. It lists all of the potential emergency conditions which may occur on a aircraft. The pilots then observe that handbook to research every step and every chance, which helps isolate and clear up the issue.

On this case, it seems the answer was to close that engine down.

For the sake of precaution, aviators announce a mayday name when we now have a state of affairs we predict means we’d like precedence assist. The mayday name clears out the airspace to allow this aircraft to be primary within the queue for precedence; all different plane should get out of the way in which.

The air visitors controllers put everybody else within the air in a holding sample or give them an enormous flip to maintain them out of the realm.

Nevertheless, someday after the pilot on QF144 issued a mayday name, it was downgraded to what’s generally known as a PAN – that stands for Doable Help Wanted.

A PAN is a much less excessive occasion; it nonetheless alerts it’s an emergency, and meant within the Qantas case there have been emergency autos on the runway and the aircraft retained its precedence standing within the queue. However it’s not fairly as critical as a mayday.

From right here, a really thorough evaluate will assist make clear what occurred. The pilots usually undergo drug and alcohol testing and there shall be a full investigation to make sure nothing was missed and assist Qantas return to regular operations.

I wasn’t there on the flight deck and may solely infer from what I’ve heard and browse that the pilots on this aircraft did precisely what they’re educated to do.

Airways spend some huge cash on coaching so pilots and crew can deal with occasions like this.

As we start the dialog towards single pilot planes and autonomous plane, it’s value asking how AI and autonomous programs would possibly reply to circumstances that aren’t regular occasions.

High picture: Qantas Flight QF144 berths at a gate at Sydney Airport on January 18, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Pictures)