To put a couple things straight. I think we can say there have been two successful water landings of jet airliners.
22 November 1968. Japan airlines Flight 2 HND
made a controlled descent from the Woodside VOR until contact with the water a couple of miles short of the runway at SFO
. It was not an intentional ditching but CFIT, terminating in the shallow water of the bay. It struck the water in the landing configuration and at approach speed.
There were no fatalities. The aircraft JA8032 was eventually returned to service and later sold. It is in service today as N808AX.
02 May 1970. Overseas National (ONA
) operating ALM
980 successfully ditched a DC-9-33 off St Croix after using up their reserve and alternate fuel in approach attempts at St, Maarten. I say that the ditching was successful because no one was killed in the landing. One crewmember and 22 passengers failed to survive the evacuation phase.
The 1L door jammed in the impact with the water. 1R was opened but a liferaft was inflated in the forward galley area.
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Photo © John P. Stewart
The Ethiopian hijacking filmed crashing just off the beach is not relevant to the discussion because it could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a landing.
The argument that it was only "slightly out of control" is simply not acceptable. The "slight" loss of control permitted a wing to contact the water which led to total loss of control and to many fatalities. Unless that was the intent of the pilot the plane was under control only in that it was still located somewhere on the planet of departure.
Aircraft "control" may not be an absolute but at worst it is ever-smaller corrections until you arrive at the right jetway. This was a crash. I can't blame the pilot, he apparently was fighting to regain
Anyway, the two successful examples I cite above both argue in favor of one thing: Shut up and listen to the safety briefing. Or at least shut up and let those of us who wish to survive listen to it. I've heard it more times than you have (unless you are a flight attendant) and I still listen and I think about it. You would not believe how quickly it can change from another routine flight to utter chaos and terror. Don't plan on getting up to speed mentally after
the crash. You will have to be somewhat pre-programmed before things go wrong.
The military crew out there can tell you this. In an emergency you will do as you've practiced. (even mental practice) If you have practiced nothing you will likely do nothing. Survival is an active concept. You may have to work at it. In a ditching assume that you are going to survive. Assume, also, that the fuselage is going to sink pretty quickly.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.