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Home > Flying the Plane > How long can an airplane stay in the air when it runs out of fuel?
How long can an airplane stay in the air when it runs out of fuel?
Flying - Flying the Plane
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 22:17

Dear Capt Lim,

Once, me and my family flew from New York to Buenos Aires in Argentina. It was my first time in a Boeing 777. The flight was smooth. Here is my question. If a plane runs out of fuel, how long does it have to make it to another airport?

I have one more question. What happens if the Boeing 777 gets a flat tire in the landing gears, what happens??

I am 11 years old and I know a lot about airplanes (yes, I do have permission to email you)

Thanks a lot for trying to answer my question!


Hi Chris,

If you have read one of my FAQ on Fuel Leak, you would have got part of the answer. If the airplane runs out of fuel, it is also similar to having all the engines failed in flight. This answer can be found in my FAQ too. Okay, just for your sake (being a 11 years old and very interested about airplanes), I will repeat. How long will a plane stay in the air when it runs out of fuel depends on the height at the time when the fuel runs out. The higher the airplane, the further it will glide and hence it would stay a little longer.

For example, if the airplane was at 35,000 feet or about 7 miles high, it would glide at about 5 miles a minute at a descent rate of about 4000 to 5000 feet a minute. At this gliding speed and descent rate, it would travel between 35 to 45 miles depending on whether there was a tail or head wind. So you have about 7 minutes to make it to another airport!

There are a total of 14 tires in a Boeing 777- two on the nose wheel and six on each main landing gears. From the cockpit, a pilot can tell which of the tire is flat. On the main landing gears, each tire has a pressure of about 220 psi (pounds per square inch). When the pressure is low, or if a the tire is flat, a warning will comes on to inform the pilot of the situation and it not a major problem. The aircraft can still land safely with one flat tire. After landing, the engineer merely change the tire and the airplane will continue with the journey for the next flight!

Have a safe flight!


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Comments (6)

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What makes an airplane stay in the air? , Low-rated comment [Show]
I am Very Intrested
i have always wanted to be a pilot but worry i will fail my GCSE what shall i do to insure that i will become an airline pilot preffrebly a boeing 737 e.g. jet 2, easyjet, thomascook and first choice these are the 4 main airlines i would like to become a pilot for what shall i do i watch alot of plane crash investigations and practise on flight simulators i am fully aware what to do if i do fly a plane and an emergency situation comes up............ well what i am saying is if i get C's In my GCSE's Will i be able to go to college and university to become a pilot and is there still hope please write back.... J.SHELL JSH (FSKE NAME)
Fake Name , 21 Jun, 2010
what are some ways a person can manage their stress on a plane....

marrisa , 07 Dec, 2011
Good day sir, i'm victor obi by name, from nigeria. Plz i've always had this dream of inventing my personal airplane, but fortunately i dnt even have anyone to assist me in order for the dream to come to reality. Sir plz i really need ur assistance, if u can assist me with the engine, and also give me some guidlines on how to go about it. God bless u as u respond.
victor obi , 03 Jul, 2012
how do helicopters stay in the air?
hi my name is brandon. i would like to know how helicopters stay in the air i mean i understand the blades but i dont understand how they stay in the air.smilies/smiley.gif
brandon , 27 Mar, 2013
Hi Sir, I am vishnu from India. I want to know that, in how speed does an airplane leave the land in flying time and what is the last limit for a airplane to fly in the sky?
Vishnu , 12 Jan, 2014

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