jutes85
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Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 5:04 am

Ever since the Air Transat near-accident, something got me thinking. Is it possible for a large jet to successfully land on water without getting totally destroyed?

If the A330 did not make it to the Azores, would the pilot be able to slow the aircraft down enough so he can just "plop" the aircraft down on the water without it breaking into pieces? I mean if the pilot slowed it down at about 20-30feet off the surface, then just stall it slowly so it just bounces of the water until it stops?

[Edited 2003-12-31 21:05:06]
nothing
 
airplay
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 5:09 am

There are ditching standards that airliners must meet, but generally, NO they can't land on water. You can pretty much guarantee that any airliner water landing will result not only in desctruction but death as well...

No commercial airliner has yet been successfully ditched in water to my knowledge.
 
Buzz
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Only One I Can Think Of

Thu Jan 01, 2004 6:20 am

HI Jutes85, Buzz here. I can only think of one ditching that i read about back in the ealy 70's. A DC-9 ditched in the Carribean sea. Most of the people survived.

Remember that water is 860+ times denser than air. At 120mph it's quite dense: you've seen pictures of barefoot water skiiers? And every so often somebody has fun with little airplanes on a lake: they'll be at cruise speed and descend to the surface of the water and skip their wheels into the water. They have wing lift so they don't sink, but it's a hard surface. I hear that's how bush pilots are able to land on gravel beaches in a bend of a river (which might be the only place in rough terrain: touch down short of the gravel in the river, "water-ski" to the gravel, then cut the power. It's not for beginners.

g'day and Good New Year
Buzz Fuselsausage: Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by choice, taildragger pilot for fun
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 7:26 am

This topic was beat to death not three days ago in a thread having to do with life preservers under the seats. Try a search.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
CanadianNorth
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 3:46 pm

The old water ski on the tires till you hit the gravel/sand bar and cut the power eh.... must be a hell of a ride, sign me up  Big thumbs up


CanadianNorth
What could possibly go wrong?
 
Bekol
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 3:59 pm

So I wonder why we need a "Water Evaluation Procedure" on safety cards of every airliners if it's just impossible to land on water? we always see the aircraft floating on the water on that safety cards....  Smile

Bekol
 
USAFHummer
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 4:03 pm

Well the Ethopian 767 hijacking a few years back off the coast of Africa (near Comoros I think), that was a ditching, albeit slightly out of control as the hijackers were struggling for control...I believe about 100 people survived that...

"So I wonder why we need a "Water Evaluation Procedure" on safety cards of every airliners if it's just impossible to land on water? we always see the aircraft floating on the water on that safety cards...." - in case of overruns into water would be one reason...I can remember at least 2 such cases, one 747 (CI or CX, cant remember), went off the runway in HKG and into the water there, and a DL MD-88 overran at LGA into the water...

Greg
Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
 
Bekol
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 6:28 pm

Oh yeah I remembered that it was CI B747-400 that written off at Kai Tak because of that!

Bekol
 
necigrad
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 01, 2004 10:35 pm

Remember, those safety cards are written to cover all generalisations. If you crash on land the closes, even ONLY exit might be the big hole where the row in front of you was. Can a plane land in water? Yes. Will it be in one piece? Maybe, in a smooth lake, if you're lucky. When the plane cartwheels in the water, are the water evacuation directions still valid? Yup, even if there's more or less exits. But as George Carlin said, do you really want to be hugging a seat cushion filled with beer farts?
 
airplay
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 12:51 am

Well the Ethopian 767 hijacking a few years back off the coast of Africa (near Comoros I think), that was a ditching, albeit slightly out of control as the hijackers were struggling for control...I believe about 100 people survived that...


Umm...."slightly out of control" is akin to rolling off the side of a runway. I don't think anyone who has seen the video clip would use that term. After one wingtip and engine hit the water, the airplane cartwheeled.
 
necigrad
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 1:40 am

Actually it WAS only slightly out of control. That's why the wing caught like it did. The wing dipped, just like going off the side of the runway in your example. Now, put a building on the side of the runway, and then the plane hits it. But it was only "slightly out of control". If the pilots hadn't been interfered with, they may very well have avoided that cartwheel.
 
FredT
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 7:10 am

Was also that DC-8 landing short of the runway in Africa, Lake Victoria IIRC. Floated until they towed it ashore.

Cheers,
Fred
I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
 
airplay
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:39 am

Necigrad,

The requirement to "control" an aircraft doesn't suddenly stop when the airplanes is out of control or if they are interfered with.

An aircraft in control doesn't cartwheel across the water....period.
 
necigrad
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:57 am

Correct, but Airplay was implying that lack of control was there because it cartwheeled (which happened because a wingtip caught the water), but running off the runway was only "slightly out of control". Using that basis, is seperating two phases. The first phase is thte point before loss of control. In these cases it's when the wingtip hit the water and when te aircraft went off the runway. The second phase has two outcomes. Either the loss of control is recoverable or not. Those pilots did not "lose control". Control was denied by the forces of water. Those pilots deserve credit for that ditch IMO.
 
EMBQA
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 12:05 pm

Sure.....they did it in 'Airport '78' didn't they...?? Even after the aircraft sank, the fuselage remained water tight too....!!
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
airplay
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 12:41 pm

Those pilots did not "lose control".

So...they maintained control?

 Smile
 
musang
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 02, 2004 11:10 pm

Another survivable ditching I can think of is the JAL DC-8 in Tokyo bay (24 died, 150 didn't) and I've a feeling there was another, also JAL, in SFO bay, but I can't find any info.

The DC-9 between the east coast and Bermuda was basically intact. The China 747-400 in HKG was actually resting (and rocking) on its main gear on the bottom, and was much slower than flying speed when it went off the end, so it doesn't count!

I believe its true to say that anything with underslung wing mounted engines stands a good chance of losing them on impact, which of course is a good thing, less weight for the floating aircraft to support.

On ATR and Avro RJ conversion courses I've done, I made a point of asking the tech. instructors how they knew exactly how the aircraft would float. No real tests were done of course, its all calculated. (Both types are expected to float with the rear fuselage low, so exit by the forward exits is recommended, on the high side. There will be one wingtip in the water).

One which would have been very spectacular is a Concorde. The normal pitch attitude on approach is 11 3/4 degrees nose up, so assuming the gear was up, the tail would hit first, slamming the forward fuselage down with a considerable impact. The engines would not come off, and would act as very effective brakes when they ingested water. I read that somewhere, its not conjecture, and what I don't know is what the actual ditching drill says (gear up/down).

Regards - Musang
 
Guest

RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 12:19 am

Interesting topic...

The Falcon 20 bizjet is one of the few jet transports actually certified for water ditching. As I remember, a crew ran into some trouble and actually had to ditch one. It floated for a long time and the Coast Guard ended up using it for target practice - they didn't want it floating free in the shipping lanes. The French went to the FAA with the data and pictures and got them to "Ditch Certify" it.

The North American Sabreliner was originally designed to be a light military transport. One of its charactistics is a funny entry door which required you to "step over the side" - it was purposely designed that way in case of a water landing.

I used to work with the copilot of the DC-9 that ditched. I don't know much about what actually happened, we would never talk about it.

Jetguy
 
gordonsmall
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 12:28 am

The Falcon 20 bizjet is one of the few jet transports actually certified for water ditching.

Just out of interest, what sort of perceived value does being "certified to ditch" add to an aircraft?

It's not exactly something one would want to do in normal operations is it? I mean let's face it if a crew of an aircraft which is not "certified to ditch" comes face to face with that situation I doubt they're going to let the certification standards of the airplane get in the way of saving their own skin.

Maybe I'm just being cynical?

Regards,
Gordon.
Statistically, people who have had the most birthdays tend to live the longest.
 
USAFHummer
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:19 am

Maybe it could be used as a marketing tool by Dassault:

"If by some reason our Falcon 20 business jet suffers a double flameout over the North Atlantic, don't worry! Our Falcon 20 is certified to land in the water safely and without compromising the fuselage, so you'll be nice and safe!"

Greg
Chief A.net college football stadium self-pic guru
 
Guest

RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:52 am

Gordon,
I wondered the same thing myself. I think Greg had the right idea - it was a marketing tool.
Jetguy
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 5:54 am

"Slightly out of control" is rather like slightly pregnant.

Airport78 never explained why the negative pressure relief valve did not flood the airplane. Oh! Hollywood.

If this thread is somewhat short of substantive replies from well qualified big guns, see post number 3.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
ExPanAmer
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 11:16 am

There was a successful ditching of a Pan Am propliner (sorry-I don't remember which type) in the early 50s as the aircraft was heading east from Hawaii. The crew did not want to test luck and have to ditch far away from help at night, so they nursed it to a commercial ship sailing in the Pacific, and flew it until daybreak. They prepped the pax very well, and ditched it gently close to the ship. I don't think there was a single fatality.
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Sat Jan 03, 2004 11:44 am

ExPanAmer

That was a Boeing 377 and it was not a commercial ship that it ditched next to. It was Ocean Station November, a (coast guard I believe) ship that kept station about midway between California and Hawaii. OSN maintained a navaid and relayed communications.

Some of the passengers never even got their feet wet. I have photos during and after the ditching. The fuselage did break.

But all of this was covered in great depth less than a week ago on another thread and that is probably why it is not coming to light here.

Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
necigrad
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:02 am

OK, I'm gonna drop my arguement about "control". Either I'm wrong or not explaining myself properly. However, I think the plane that crashed into the 14th St. Bridge (Air Florida???) actually took little if any damage from the water. The bridge on the other hand...
 
ExPanAmer
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Wed Jan 14, 2004 9:58 am

Slamclick,
Thank You for the details-I guess it was a long time ago that I had watched the program on which I learned about that incident.
Just a thought, how about inflatable pontoons mounted within the belly and under the wings?
 
bragi
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:29 am

The correct procedure for ditching is to land along the swell direction (depending on wave height), with full flaps, gear up and at the lowest possible speed (maintaining control).

Ideally, the aircraft should touch down tail first, then the forward section should be lowered, without stalling, to the surface.
It is inevitable that there will be two or three skips before the final impact, but if the ditching was completed successfully, the aircraft should stay floating hopefully long enough for the occupants to evacuate.

- Anyone else heard this saying?
"An aircraft floats just as well as a boat flies." Smile
Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
 
Night_Flight
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Jan 16, 2004 10:08 pm

Here is a classic amphib!



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Photo © Allan Rossmore
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Photo © Allan Rossmore



-Night_Flight-
Remember when sex was safe and flying was dangerous?
 
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Ryan h
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Wed Feb 11, 2004 7:29 pm

For more information on that Panam stratocruiser there is a book called Air Disaster Volume 4 by MacArthur Job.
South Australian Spotter www.ryanhothersall.net
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Feb 12, 2004 1:19 am

To put a couple things straight. I think we can say there have been two successful water landings of jet airliners.

ONE
22 November 1968. Japan airlines Flight 2 HND-SFO 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.

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Photo © Johan Ljungdahl
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Photo © George W. Hamlin



TWO
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 control.

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.
 
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Aaron747
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Feb 12, 2004 6:43 am

Excellent post Slam. I always count my rows to exits and I always commit water and oxygen procedures to memory.

And remember folks - if your aircraft runs out of trim and you're hurtling toward the sea at 400 knots - only then is it appropriate to laugh about the cushions. They exist for a reason.

If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
 
Fly2HMO
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Feb 12, 2004 9:39 am

Every time I see the Ethiopian 767 hijack video I always think had the pilot done what Bragi said in reply 26, the only people dead would have been the hijackers 'cuz they were standing. I'd say the engines would have been ripped off, maybe along with the wings, and the fuselage would have suffered not as much damage as long as it went straight ahead. Guess we'll never know.
 
Skydrol
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Feb 12, 2004 11:53 am

Kind of close to what's being discussed here:

Check this link



LD4
∙ ---{--« ∙ ----{--« ∙ --{-« ∙ ---{--« ∙ --{--« ∙ --{-« ∙ ----{--« ∙
 
MD-90
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Thu Feb 12, 2004 1:23 pm

The really reassuring thing is when the bizjet manufacturers skimp on the liferafts in the planes, preferring to load a few more bottles of wine rather than a good quality raft or rafts. Winslows are the best, and even though they're expensive they're what I would want in my plane if I was flying overwater.
 
SlamClick
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:35 am

Fly2hmo

I agree. I did not mean to sound like I was critical of the Ethiopian pilots, I have no idea what kind of struggle they were involved in. They may be the most heroic people you ever heard of, only we never got to hear their story.

There is an excellent, if somewhat dated, Government publication called "Aircraft Emergency Procedures Overwater" that includes a great discussion of ditching considerations. I have an old copy that was issued to me before I took a military single-engine on a long overwater flight. I reviewed it again a few years ago before starting to fly the north Atlantic.

I had a conversation once with Frank Tallman about ditching. He and his partner Paul Mantz had crashed quite a few airplanes for movies. He said the worst of them was landing a Navion (I think in San Diego Bay) He said the plane must have come to a stop in just a few feet and the restraint system left bruises. And that was smooth water.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
 
musang
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RE: Can An Airliner Land On Water?

Fri Feb 13, 2004 12:46 am

Slamclick - thanks for filling in the gap in my memory about the JAL in SFO Bay!

Regards - Musang

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