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Could An A380 Glide After Loss Of All Engine Power  
User currently offlineBcal From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2004, 3384 posts, RR: 15
Posted (10 years 4 hours ago) and read 22091 times:

Thinking about the BA 747 that temporarily lost all engine power after flying into volcanic ash near Jakarta, and the AirTransat A330-243 that ran out of fuel near the Azores, yet both landed safely (the BA 747 after engine power was restored), I have been wondering if (heaven forbid) the same situation was to happen to an A380. Does the A380 have any Ram Air Turbine and would this provide sufficient amount of hydraulic and electrical power? Could an A380 sustain a glided flight lasting over 10-15 minutes?

MOL on SRB's latest attack at BA: "It's like a little Chihuahua barking at a dying Labrador. Nobody cares."
96 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineBENNETT123 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 7909 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (10 years 4 hours ago) and read 21976 times:

There was also the Gimli B767, and that was 20 years ago.

It is hard to believe that the designers have not taken this into account.

User currently offlineAirxLiban From Lebanon, joined Oct 2003, 4518 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (10 years 4 hours ago) and read 21962 times:

i guess if the A330 has a ram air turbine then the A380 might as well have one too.

just coz its big doesn't mean that it can't glide after loss of all engine power.

[Edited 2005-01-28 23:14:43]

User currently offlineSWALoveField From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 179 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 4 hours ago) and read 21937 times:

I am not an aeronautical engineer and I don't know enough about the A380 to give a technical answer, but it IS called heavy metal for a reason. I seriously doubt it.

God forbid that this happen to any A380.

User currently offlineAAgent From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 560 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (10 years 4 hours ago) and read 21901 times:

I'm not an engineer, but I'd bet that if the aircraft were at cruising altitude that it would at the very minimum have several minutes of glide capability. I don't know if she'd be capable of a semi-controlled landing, but it would be an interesting piece of trivia to know the true answer. My gut feeling, drop the nose a little and let her soar! Now where's the nearest stretch of straight pavement?


War Eagle!
User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 81
Reply 5, posted (10 years 3 hours ago) and read 21807 times:

I bet it doesn't have a RAT. The 747 doesn't.


User currently offlineBALandorLivery From UK - England, joined Jan 2005, 361 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (10 years 3 hours ago) and read 21767 times:


The A380 is an aircraft just like any other and the same laws of physics/flight apply.

If all engines were lost, then the aircraft would have to pitch down in order to keep its speed up and maintain best glide speed i.e. begin to glide.

As for its rate of descent while its gliding, thats anybodies guess but I imagine it is high.

Maybe an engineer who knows more about its wing/weight could give us some figures.



User currently offlineMidnightMike From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 2892 posts, RR: 14
Reply 7, posted (10 years 3 hours ago) and read 21742 times:

The A380 has the basic theory of flight & should be able to be glided in for a landing in the event of all four engines failing. If not, then the JAA/FAA would demand that the be a back-up engine be installed in the event that all four engines fail.

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User currently offlineZBBbird From Canada, joined Jul 2004, 58 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (10 years 3 hours ago) and read 21742 times:

I don't think it will have any problem gliding. It may not give you the longest glide of an airliner, but enough to get down safely. Any aircraft I have flown (not that many) has a listed max. glide speed in the POH, I'm pretty sure the A380 will as well.

User currently offlineMtnmanmakalu From Ireland, joined Nov 2004, 515 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (10 years 3 hours ago) and read 21719 times:

I think it would drop like the big, fat rock that it is !!!!

Hope it never happens and the odds of it happening are almost nil....

I do, I don't, whatever.......
User currently offlineUSAFHummer From United States of America, joined May 2000, 10685 posts, RR: 52
Reply 10, posted (10 years 1 hour ago) and read 21457 times:

No, it can't glide, but once all 4 engines flame out, it will do its best Looney Tunes "anvil" impression... Insane


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User currently offlineLnglive1011yyz From Canada, joined Oct 2003, 1619 posts, RR: 14
Reply 11, posted (10 years ago) and read 21378 times:

As if you all think it'll drop right out of the sky?

(I realize USAFHummer that you were joking, however haha)

The airplane has the same fundamentals of any other glidable aircraft.

Obviously you'd want to put the plane down as fast as possible, but it wouldn't just start doing a nose-dive to the ground haha.

If it was *that* heavy, it wouldn't even get off the ground.

(And NO, I don't wnat to hear that "it won't get off the ground..." argument. It'll get off the ground, and it'll fly gracefully too..)


Pack your bags, we're going on a sympathy trip!
User currently offlineMD11LuxuryLinr From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1385 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (10 years ago) and read 21348 times:

~"No, it can't glide, but once all 4 engines flame out, it will do its best Looney Tunes "anvil" impression... "~

Haha. I'm sure that we ALL know people that think that exact thing about aircraft.. Once all engine power is lost, the aircraft drops like a safe..

Silly people..

Caution wake turbulence, you are following a heavy jet.
User currently offlineLehpron From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 7028 posts, RR: 20
Reply 13, posted (10 years ago) and read 21336 times:

Yes, like any airplane with a high Lift/drag ratio, it will glide pretty far; multiply the altitude and the ratio and there you go.

The wing of A380 was designed for the larger stretch version (whenever it flies -- as opposed to the 747 which has it's wing and then got revamped over the years), it already has glider capablility well above any other powered machine.

The latter I supposed.  Smile

The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
User currently offlineNSFGUY From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (10 years ago) and read 21314 times:

As the guy who came up with the 380 idea on a paper napkin after doing acid all night with some Apache Indians.... I designed a special "flame out" kit for the plane. It mixes the methane gas from the crappers with an outside RAM air, and blows an enormous torch out the rear apu outlet. This enables the craft to blissfully power up while the dwarf mechanics sleeping in the wings awake and head to the "engine room" to get they' fix on! All the while the happily bungling pax in the mile high rooms never have a clue!

User currently offlineB2707SST From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 1373 posts, RR: 59
Reply 15, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 21266 times:

I remember reading in Tech/Ops that heavier aircraft actually glide better than lighter aircraft, because the increased momentum more than offsets the higher wing loading. The A380 should be able to glide as far as most other large jets, maybe farther due to its mass, low wing loading, and advanced airfoil.

The A380 does have a ram air turbine:


The 757, 767, and 777 all have ram air turbines, so I'd bet the 787 will as well.


Keynes is dead and we are living in his long run.
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8243 posts, RR: 54
Reply 16, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 21247 times:

The A380 will be able to glide for about 30 minutes, covering a distance of 110 miles from a starting point of 35,000 feet. Like many aspects of it's performance with the engines turning, it outperforms the 747 by about 10% in this regard.

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31713 posts, RR: 56
Reply 17, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 21186 times:

Im sure the RAT would be Installed.Anyone with Inside Details.

Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlinePictues From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 21185 times:

I've also heard people say, prior to the Air Transat A330, that the A#30/A340 could not glide, lucky for those passangers that they were wrong. The only way to tell is if it happens and of course we don't want that.

User currently offlineConcord977 From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 1261 posts, RR: 24
Reply 19, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 21144 times:

According to an A380 article that appeared in Aviation Week in 2002, this aircraft is supposed to have a 10.6 to 1.0 glide ratio.

For every mile above ground in altitude, the A380 should be able to glide 10.6 miles forward.

I'm not an engineer either - just reporting what I read.

No info
User currently offlineGigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 81
Reply 20, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 21100 times:

The A380 does have a ram air turbine

Very interesting, thanks for that article.

The Azores really must have taught Airbus a lesson.


User currently offlineSuper Em From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 450 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 20998 times:

Are people on this site "player hating" on the A380? Give Airbus a break. They built a magnificent piece of machinery. It's their time to shine and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame. Someone always seem to find a fault about the A380. It seems like alot of people here want it to fail. This could only mean one thing: The Boeing fans are scared.

User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8508 posts, RR: 12
Reply 22, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 20993 times:

Of course it can glide, but what about hydraulic power? You're pretty much screwed if you have a complete powerplant failure on the 747.

User currently offlineSpaceman From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 534 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 20891 times:

Yes, or if airbus engineers were caught dead or jerking off on the job.

User currently offlineBoeing7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (9 years 12 months 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 20831 times:


The A380 is an aircraft just like any other and the same laws of physics/flight apply.

Two words: LEAD SLED

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Photo © Jason Whitebird

25 Daedaeg : Yes it will be able to glide just like any other jetliner. It's weight and size only factor into the distance of gliding, but it still acts as an airp
26 OptionsCLE : Please!! Sure it's heavy, but the plane has a wing and an air resistance profile that support flight at nearly the same speeds as other jets. If all e
27 Post contains links Iwok : Concord977 and CedarJet. You speak the truth. Glide ratio tells the whole story. I could not find anything on the A380, but the 747 glide ratio is abo
28 Jacobin777 : it maybe be a ****(ass)ugly looking plane, but with such a monsterous wing span, it should be able to glide down........those wings have MASSIVE surfa
29 Aer Lingus : According to my way of thinking. If all the engines fail on the A380 it will drop like a rock. The wing I think is too thick to glide without engines.
30 Schooner : Well seeing as an ideal descent in an airliner involves the engines coming to idle at top of descent and only coming back up at about 1000` to stabili
31 Trent900 : Apparently after the BA 747 volcanic ash incident the captain did say that the 747 did not glide as well as he thought it would, but with todays wing
32 Alessandro : Glide ratio, must be affected by a lot of things, how much fuel onboard, the airflow throu the engines, the weight of the cargo and how balanced it is
33 AV757 : All airplanes glide, specially when you consider that in normal flight conditions the descent from their cruise altitude is done power off at idle thr
34 StanstedFlyer : I don't think gliding from FL 350 is the issue! I think more of an issue would be engine failure on takeoff at or near v2. You would get some sweaty p
35 Richard28 : IIRC the A380 has a slower approach speed than the B744 - it needs this to meet the noise emission standards. Assuming this is the case, then the A380
36 Bar032 : All aircraft MUST be able to glide, PERIOD! Even when engine power is lost, through a RAT. When in a descent, the engine power is usually lowered to t
37 Ltbewr : Another issue is the amount of control a pilot would have in a engines out glide situation. The 'Gimgi glider' was over 22 years ago, in a previous ge
38 Milan320 : Gigneil: Very interesting, thanks for that article. The Azores really must have taught Airbus a lesson. And what lesson would that be? It wasn't Airbu
39 APFPilot1985 : Couple of things, BAR032 the RAT has nothing to do with the gliding part of engines out. Second thing Aer Lingus are you serious or were you just joki
40 Pilotpip : It's not about how fat the wing is, or how heavy the aircraft is. The only thing a powerplant does in regards to making the aircraft come off the grou
41 SMcC : It is interesting to see the gaps in aviation knowledge in this thread. Many actually know what a ram air turbine is, but something as fundamental as
42 APFPilot1985 : SMcC, i think that is the result of people seeing pictures and the like of aircraft with the RAT Deployed and asking what is.
43 Post contains images Delta-flyer : Allow me to try to fill at least some of the "gap" to which SMcC refers. The RAT only helps a plane glide to the extent that it provides power to the
44 MD88Captain : A Ram Air Turbine (RAT) is a little motor with a prop on it that will drop into the slipstream automatically or manually. The slipstream of the aircra
45 Bazzaldonbond : What a stupid question.What did you think it was loaded with lead and was designed that when the engines stopped the plane would just plummet.
46 B777fan : MD88Captain, Thanks for your great description of the RAT trap on the L1011. Ever hear of it accidentally deploying on the ground? That would be quite
47 Post contains images Trijetman : Thanks to all of you who made a qualified point here, to explain that airliners don't just drop like a stone if all the engines are out. How come ther
48 Bar032 : Couple of things, BAR032 the RAT has nothing to do with the gliding part of engines out. What I meant was that a RAT generates power for the flight co
49 Adria : "The Azores really must have taught Airbus a lesson."..........read the report before you blame someone!!
50 Beechnut : An aircraft flies on the wing, not the engine. If the wing will generate enough lift to take off at its takeoff speed, it will generate the same amoun
51 RJ111 : If anything the A380 should be the best passenger airliner at gliding. Just becasue it's heavy doesn't mean it's going to instantly drop once the powe
52 777STL : "According to my way of thinking. If all the engines fail on the A380 it will drop like a rock. The wing I think is too thick to glide without engines
53 Lamedianaranja : GLARE, people, GLARE!!!! A380 looks heavy but it's partly made of this fabulous material, stronger than metal but much lighter. Because of this invent
54 KC135TopBoom : The reported 10.6:1 glide ratio for the A-380 cannot be correct. It should be better than that with a "clean" airplane. Doesn't the A-380 have a "supe
55 Post contains images Thrust : Considering the A380 is one of the most advanced aircraft of its time, I would have to say that yes, it probably could glide quite well. It is still n
56 OldAeroGuy : The FARS/JARS require that a Part 25 airplane be controllable with all engines inoperative. That's why RAT's are used to provide power to the flight c
57 Eilennaei : I'm reading this from Macarthur Jobs "Air Disaster" (volume II) regarding the BA 747-200 volcano ash incident: "From 37,000 feet, the descent to sea l
58 Wiggidy : Anyone who thinks it will not glide because it "is too heavy" or "the wing is too thick" have completely and totally misunderstood the laws of physic
59 Post contains links and images RogerThat : The A380 would glide like a magic carpet compared to this famous glider: View Large View MediumPhoto © Dmitriy Shapiro
60 Lehpron : >>"The A380 should be able to glide as far as most other large jets, maybe farther due to its mass, low wing loading, and advanced airfoil.""According
61 Sonic67 : Excuse my stupidity but can the GPU be fired up in mid flight to provide electrical power and hydraulics in case of engine loss? Also what would you t
62 Flybyguy : The A380 though it is a large aircraft will not drop like a rock... As KC135TopBoom points out as long as the aircraft has enough momentum. If the air
63 BCAL : Bazzaldonbond I do not think it is a stupid question, or I would not have asked it. Nobody (I hope) is doubting that an A380 could glide if it lost al
64 Nsfguy : The Airwhale 380 will not glide because it can not fly. We made a fatal mistake and put too much shit on it, and in it... And now even the tug can't p
65 Post contains images Thrust : I would also bet that the A380 would not be generating the sales it is getting if it did not have gliding abilities. I would not board a plane that wa
66 Wjcandee : For what it's worth, here's the real point about safety: The thing can, we all agree, glide 70-80 miles, or for around 10-15 minutes, from 30-somethin
67 Waffle : Wiggidy said: I currently fly helicopters which have about a 4:1 glide ratio if the engine fails and that's plenty of time to get down safely. A 10:1
68 Skidmarks : Waffle, if the engine fails a helicopter can autorotate and get down safely, just an a normal aircraft can glide. Coming back to the A380, I think it
69 B2707SST : Low wing loading?? Dude this sucker has a 9500 sq. ft wing compared to a 747 at just under 5600 sq. ft, and that's without flaps. But since A380 weigh
70 Wdleiser : Take a look at the 744, this summer I got to land 4 times in the cockpit with Lufthansa and every time we landed at 150knots. New years I flew to Cair
71 Eilennaei : Please note that I'm no professional in helicopters, and this is how I understand the situation as an interested layperson: The common misunderstandin
72 Veeref : Short answer, it will "glide" everytime it leaves cruising altitude on initial descent, like all other aircraft. Even the SAAB 340 will glide, to some
73 Areopagus : OldAeroGuy wrote: As far as the glide distance of an A380 is concerned, it is probably 18 to 20 times the height at engine failure. That's because if
74 Post contains images Wiggidy : Eilennaei, yes you are mostly correct about helicopters. However, on most helos, unlike the robinson's, you do not have to disengage the rotor from t
75 HaveBlue : It's amazing to read people who think that it won't glide. It absolutely will. As for helicopters Eilennaei got it mostly right. When a helicopter los
76 Wjcandee : eilennaei: Not to get too far off topic, but here's the deal. You've got the basic idea, for sure. There are two pitch controls that act on the rotor
77 HaveBlue : Wjcandee that was excellent, thank you! We must have been posting our replies at the same time.. mine just got in first because of the brevity of it..
78 Post contains images Wiggidy : Good post Wjcandee, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I have about a hundred autos and a few anittorque failures under my belt and nothing get
79 Delta-flyer : APU's typically can't start at high altitude. On the F-16, for example, there is a hydrazine powered emergency power system that helps the aircraft de
80 Wjcandee : Thanks for the nice comments, guys. I should have mentioned -- as Wiggidy points out -- that the mass of the rotor system bears greatly on the autorot
81 Wjcandee : Wes, not to beat this to death, but I should also say that I have always felt safer in a piston-powered helo than a piston-powered fixed wing. Whether
82 Eilennaei : Wjcandee, you wrote: (on autorotation) "As you fall, the rotor system will keep spinning, storing up kinetic energy from the air rising through the sy
83 Wiggidy : Wjcandee, I agree with you on the piston helo thing. I also have my private license in fixed wing and Id always be scanning for a safe space to land
84 Gigneil : "The Azores really must have taught Airbus a lesson."..........read the report before you blame someone!! I was referring to the 747 way of thinking.
85 Wjcandee : Eilennaei: I don't think that we disagree, so maybe this is superfluous, but... Here's how I see it. Having risen to altitude, the body has potential
86 Wjcandee : Wes: Thanks! I am absolutely honored. Ditto.
87 Airlinerfreak : Mathematically and scientifically it could fly. The question is just how long could it fly before the force of gravity pulls it down. If I am correct
88 Wjcandee : PPS Wes, it sounds like you have a GREAT job! All the best, Bill
89 Wiggidy : Correction Wjcandee, I will add you to my respected user list as soon as I reach 20 posts! I just joined this site after shadowing a few years so Im s
90 HaveBlue : Wjcandee thanks for the nice comments. Wes and Bil I agree to a point about your preference for a piston helicopter instead of a fixed wing in case of
91 Wjcandee : Interesting post, HaveBlue. Sad about the pilots. It seems to me that the media *always* says that aircraft were trying to land on a golf course. Show
92 Post contains links HaveBlue : Here's the link to the accident I was talking about. http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20050113X00046&key=1 Sitting stuck in rush hour traffic
93 Eilennaei : Wjcandee wrote: "As the helicopter falls, some of its potential energy from being at altitude is used to turn the rotors. A simple way of saying it is
94 HaveBlue : I don't know if I'm missing something here, but the air is turning the rotor blades as the helicopter descends. Gravity is drawing the chopper down. T
95 Wiggidy : When the rotor blades enter autorotation there are three areas the blades are divided into. By saying that the "air turns the rotor" this refers to th
96 Eilennaei : The air is turning the rotor, yes. But the energy to turn the rotor is coming from the potential energy of the mass of the helicopter, nowhere else. (
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