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Home > Airplanes > Which is the safest aircraft to fly on?
Which is the safest aircraft to fly on?
Aviation - Airplanes
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 15:05

The Airbus A380
Hello Captain Lim,

Your website is awesome! Thank you for taking the time to answer questions for people about flying. I am also a scared flyer and my flight is in a month’s time and I am already looking for the safest aircraft to fly on.

My question is, since the Boeing 747 has four engines wouldn’t it be safer in case a engine failure than the Boeing 777? I read you posts about being able to fly on one engine on the Boeing 777 for three hours but what if you are going from Frankfurt, Germany to Dulles Washington (like me) and the engine failure happens and there are still 4-5 hours left for the flight?

Since the 747 has four engines would this increase your chances because there are two backups instead of just one?

Can the 747 fly on just one engine? If so, how far?

Thank you so much for your help and answers to calm my nerves.



Hi Andrew,

Please read a previous similar question here on Boeing 747 versus Boeing 777.

A Boeing 777 is certified to fly 180 minutes on ETOPS (depends on the airlines – one with poor maintenance record may have its certification reduced to say 120 or 90 minutes diversion time from a suitable airport)  A Boeing 777 with 3 hours ETOPS can easily divert to any suitable airports along its route even though it may have 4-5 hours to its destination. As such, it would not be possible to arrive at Dulles airport, Washington but rather at any airports within 180 minutes away.

This is another previous answer that is similar to the answer from your no 2 question (see here)

Can a Boeing 747 fly on one engine? Yes, but at a very light weight. How far it would fly would depend on how much fuel is left and its load on board. I do not have any figures but my guess is, if the weight is very light, I believe it can easily fly to any suitable airports within an hour.

A B747 can and has survived on one engine. Many years ago, a Pan Am 747 made an emergency landing in Tokyo with one engine remaining. Needless to say, there was no possibility of a go around in case it screwed up the approach!

As for the Airbus A340, I do have some figures. With the failure of one engine, it can easily fly from, say, Singapore to London at an average altitude of around 33,000 ft - probably an hour longer.

With two engines out, it can cruise around 20,000 feet and fly for a considerable distance to a suitable airport.

With three engines out, (one engine left) it can only maintain an altitude of around 1500 feet at a very light weight of 160 tons compared to a take off weight of 275 tons (Provided it can dump off the current excess fuel in time!)

As regards to my preference on the safest plane to fly, I am more concerned on the reputation of the airlines rather than the planes I fly on. Nevertheless, my general preference would be on an Airbus A380/A340/A330 or Boeing 777/747-400. They are all equally good for mealt!

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

The Luthansa Boeing 747-8

United Airlines Boeing 777

SIA Airbus A340 taking off from Kansai Airport


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Thank you! Look forward to reading more!!

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Emma Bailey
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Emma , 16 Sep, 2011

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