Topic Author
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Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 2:44 pm

Purely hypothetical, but indulge me for a moment....

For those of us on here that fly light aircraft, or helicopters, answer me this... do you think, with what you know of aviation and flight physics, if put in a position where you were the only hope, that you could land an airliner? Let's say a hostage situation where the passengers dispatch the terrorists, for those of us with flight skills in small planes but not commercial transports, what do you think the outcome would be?

Same as a non pilot?
Rough but survivable?
Know enough to make it a decent landing?

Paint me just curious....
Here Here for Severe Clear!
Boeing Nut
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 2:52 pm

We all with pilot experience have thought of this scenario and all probably think we could. But we're comparing apples and oranges here. Landing a "big boy" versus a training/small aircraft is very different. Dealing with the systems on an airliner would be a lot to handle.

As for me? Well, if it was a 744, I think I actually could. Why? Well, several years ago, I bought a VHS tape of a Cathay Pacific 747-400 that contains footage of takeoff, landing and various scenarios a 744 pilot would deal with. After watching this tape several times along with the pilot experience I do have, I think I actually could pull it off. But, put me in any other airliner, I shudder to think how I would do.

I'm not a real aeronautical engineer, I just play one on Airliners.net.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 2:53 pm

Autoland. It's a great feature. Big grin

However... back in reality. I think I could put the plane down on the runway but it sure as hell is gonna be bumpy.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 3:06 pm

You know, I've often wondered the same thing.

Especially after 9/11 and UA93. I asked myself if I were on the flight, could I have flown it away from DC and brought it down someplace. While not a private pilot, I do know enough about flying that I could at least speak intelligently with the tower and be talked down.

I'm even more confident I could do it with a small plane, like a Skyhawk. A very rough landing, and heavy damage to the aircraft, but I think I'd come a lot closer than most.

Back to UA93...I asked my Dad the very same question, who was a private pilot, and is very familiar with the 757, as he was a mechanic for UA. He was also run up/taxi qualified on it as well. His reply was that it would all depend on the the plane's status in the air, i.e. straight and level flight or inverted and a high rate of vertical drop. In the case of straight and level on auto, his thought was that I, or he, or anyone who is reasonably intelligent and who could remain calm and collected, could be talked down and make a crash landing with heavy a/c damage and human casualties. Conversely, if it were in a steep dive and possibly inverted at low altitude, then no way in hell.

And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!

RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 3:11 pm

Couple of bounces, but with an operating manual and autoland, you never know.

A DC-9??? Well... That's a whole different story now isn't it.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

[Edited 2004-03-25 07:25:27]
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 3:17 pm

If this instance were to happen, and we had light flight experience, wouldn't ATC be giving some sort of BASIC direction to the only-hope-pilot? I would think that if it were me up there, I'd hop on the radio, and get basic info on autopilot, flap setting, speed, etc. Though it's a comedy, I think it would be similar to the movie "Airplane!" where they are telling Julie Haggerty what to do.
My posts/replies are strictly my opinion and not that of any company, organization, or Southwest Airlines.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 3:18 pm

Although i am not a pilot at all, my grandfather was and he brough me up so many times( hell i even landed a few), i think i could. But for the main part, if it was in a big urban area, i would try my best to get it away from the area, and try my best to land it in a desolate area full of farming and "no mans land".
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 3:23 pm

Thanks for the replies, and good so far.

I would, however, be very interested in 747Skippers opinion on this. I know there is a world of difference between a Cessna or Piper and a Boeing, but whether we stand a better chance of landing it or not I'd be interested in hearing an airliner pilots view as well.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 4:25 pm

Gotta figgure out how to use the Autoland function first right guys? Unless ATC gives you complete vectors AND ILS freqs, you're gonna have to dig out the approach plate...

And odd-configuration/orientation recoveries would be a bear...even for the trained aviator. 172 skills help, but I can say after at least being in the sims..it's, well, different...

As odds have it, usually there's a deadheading pilot or maybe some ex-'Nam guy who would just be dying to dust off his F-4 fighter pilot skills who happens to be on the flight that day  Big grin

"The cockpit, what is it?" "It's the little room in the front of the plane where the pilot sits, but that's not importan

RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 4:28 pm

Need Honeywell Primus or 777. Terrain Mapping.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 6:51 pm

Based on my couple of landings in a 747-200 full-motion simulator .....yeah.....bumpy but yeah, with guidance from the ground on speed, flap setting etc. But this is a non pilot speaking from a try or crash perspective.
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:05 pm

I was in flight school before I got diabetes and did a couple of solo's. (5 years ago)

Defenately can land a small piper kinda a/c without any problems, did a one hour flight with an instructor last fall, he didn't touch anything from startup till shut down.

Also think that I can bring down a "big girl" safely. Done a couple of landings in a full motion A320 sim and we got down safely. Would need some sort of manual re speed, flaps etc but in real life, ATC would probably help out there or you just radio to another pilot in the air (on the same type)
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:08 pm

There was me thinking i was the only one thats thought up that scenario once ive been flying commercially!  Smile

I recon i could get the plane down in one piece, but not in the correct manner a fully trained atpl pilot could obviously. Id just imagine i was in a PA28 on a faster approach speed Big grin

"ladies and gentlement.....this is your new captain speaking, we're currently flying on a heading of....eh.....hold on.......anyway, we're heading for heathrow at an altitude of 26,000ft, we should be arriving at london heathrow around uhm, eh, 25 minutes lets say.....the weather is...uhm, god knows, lets hope we dont feel the heat on landing. "

We can only live in a fantasy land eh?  Smile

Next time i go on a plane i will probably have my cpl and atpl exam knowledge, so id be a prime contender if a situation where to arise, given the chances i would have a better chance winning the lottery with the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 as ive still to read such a situation. (anyone know of any situations like this?)

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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:12 pm

Many people that fly flight sims actually think that they can land a commercial airliner (or even a C172), just because they know how to fly it on their PC. I would trust anyone that is familiar with a Microsoft(yikes!!!) Flight Simulator to bring an airliner down onto the runway in one piece (without any prior flying experiences).

Only chance for a non-pilot to land a say B767, is to have a B767-rated pilot (preferably Training Capt)(being in the cockpit of an identical aircraft or in the tower) guide the person behind the control's step-by-step when setting up the computers and autopilot for an autoland.

I would think that a person with a PPL would probably crash a jet engined aircraft, as he/she is not used to the power jet engines.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 7:20 pm

Sure, I could put one on the ground all right if I had too. But that would be after the FA's. the 'Nam jock, the nun in 1st class, and the bratty little 5 y/o in front of me had their crack at it. Actually, ATC would most likely vector me somewhere over the Atlantic with best wishes.

But I can do it on FS! Really, I can!
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:13 pm

It has been done before, here in the UK... although not on the scale of an airliner. A private pilot took a friend up in something like a Cessna but had a heart attack mid-air. The friend, with no experience whatsoever of flying, not even MS Flight Sim, had to take over and be talked down by another trainer who happened to be flying in the area. He was supposed to almost land, as a practice run, go round, then land properly. But he decided to just dump it on the ground the first time. Walked away from it, as did his trainer (well, after a trip to hospital of course).

I tried to find it on Google but couldn't. It's been on that 999 programme on TV.

Geoff M.
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Fri Mar 26, 2004 12:15 am

The ONLY part that would be a problem is the last few miles of the approach. Everything else could be reduced to turning AP knobs. If you get the right rate of decent established before you kick off the AP, even that last few miles wouldn't be bad. Now flaring the a/c for touchdown? That's a bit more of an issue!  Smile
Dave Mark - Intrinsic Algorithm - Reducing the world to mathematical equations!
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RE: Do You Think You Could, Really?

Fri Mar 26, 2004 12:28 am

I think I could do it. I have a friend that flies business jets, and I have sat in them, asking what everything does and such. Also, for those that use MS FlightSim, that really can raise your awareness as to what is going on. My landing would probably be fast and hard with a few bounces, but I think I could do it.
"It starts when you're always afraid; You step out of line, the man come and take you away" -Buffalo Springfield

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