Mayday - Falling From the Sky (British Airways Flight 9)
Hello Capt Lim,
I am 14 years old and someone told me that in the tropical country, when a Boeing 747 loses all engine power, the plane cannot glide because the air there is more moist and thicker whereas the air in the US or Canada is dry.
So my question is, can you really glide a Boeing 747 in the tropical country without engine power? Also, how long will it glide and is it difficult to control an aircraft without any engines?
For a plane to glide there must be air regardless of whether the air is moist or dry. So it is not true that in the Tropics, a plane, whether it is a Boeing 747 or Airbus A380, will not glide in case of all engines failure.
On 24 June 1982, a British Airways Boeing 747 lost all 4 engines whilst flying over Indonesia because it flew into a cloud of volcanic ash. The aircraft was able to glide far enough to exit the ash cloud and all engines were restarted but one failed again soon after. (See video above.)
A Boeing 747 will glide around 100 nautical miles from 40,000 feet depending on the winds, long enough for it to get the engines restarted as in the case of British Airways Flight 9 above.
A plane on a glide is controllable just like a plane on a descent except that it would be on emergency electrical and hydraulic power – more sluggish but manageable (see Gimli Glider videos below) as all pilots are taught to glide the plane as part of their training.
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