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Home > Flying the Plane > What happens when both engines fail 20 seconds after take off?
What happens when both engines fail 20 seconds after take off?
Flying - Flying the Plane
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 22:13
Good day Capt Lim, What would happen if a Boeing 777 has just taken off and 20 seconds later, all engines lost power . Would the aircraft drop from the air or would the pilot still be able to glide the plane down safely, taking into account that the aircraft is nose up and not yet at a suitable height and speed . Ciao, Thomas

Hi Thomas, An interesting question but a highly unlikely event! As I have mentioned before, to have both the Boeing 777 engines failed at the same time is extremely remote. However, I will answer the question hypothetically.

The lift off speed of a Boeing 777 is around 180 mph (depending on the aircraft weight) and that is about 3 miles per minute. In 20 seconds, the airplane would have traveled about one mile. That would position the aircraft at around 400 feet above ground level. If all the engines power are lost due to failure, the airplane would continue on its path but decelerate rapidly and glides down for a crash landing. Assuming that there is a flat and firm level land ahead, it is possible for the pilot to glide the plane down safely. Quite often, there are obstacles and buildings at the take off path. So you can imagine the consequences!

In the Corcorde crash in Paris some years back, the pilot tried to land after the fuel tanks caught fire and all the engines lost power as the aircraft just got airborne. If you have seen the TV clip of the Concorde on fire shown around the world, the airplane was still flying but gradually lost height and crashed into some buildings. He may have lost control due to the damaged hydraulic lines. In a Boeing 777, if all the engines are failed 20 seconds after take off, there is sufficient hydraulic to power the flight controls for a safe glide landing provided there is sufficient landing distance 3 to 5 miles ahead!

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