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Elite Engineer

How was the Southwest Airplane able to still fly with one engine?

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If you haven't heard, an American Southwest flight, 737 was flying from Newark to Dallas. The plane's left engine (?) blew up/malfunctioned. The pilot (former Navy fighter pilot)

was able to land the plane. My question is how was the plane able to stay in the air as long as it did, and descend, turn, and land with only one engine?

 

~ee

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A plane can land with no engines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimli_Glider

Losing an engine isn't isn't anything new. In fact most multiple engine aircraft are designed to work around this problem.

All aircraft have a distance/elevation ratio, so the crew will usually be able calculate landing spots. The more altitude a plane has, the further/longer it may fly.

The worst possible time to lose an engine is shortly after takeoff, when all the power is needed. If the power is halved, the plane may fall below it's designed aeronautic stall speed.

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1 hour ago, rangerx said:

The more altitude a plane has, the further/longer it may fly.

Uncontrolled decompression (e.g. caused by debris from engine) can force pilots to immediately decrease altitude from ~10 km to ~3 km, which decreases possible to flight range (on one or none engine)..

Inability to decrease altitude can have tragic consequences like in Helios Airways Flight 522.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helios_Airways_Flight_522

(irreversible coma, damage of brain and organs, caused by lack of Oxygen)

 

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Asymmetry in thrust can be 'trimmed' away, so a single engine can still provide some control.
The tailfin is sized, along with the separation of the engines from the fuselage, to allow for this.
( possibly at reduced thrust of the remaining engine )

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Posted (edited)

Air density at the time of failure also played a role.  Here is a fun little article and video on air density to help those of us who take things for granted over time, but unfortunately a moderator deleted my commercial link because this is my first post here and it looks like advertising.

Edited by Phi for All
Stick around for discussions, but no advertising, please

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When I first heard about flying a jet plane with one engine shut down I thought it was regarding one out of 4 engines, or one out of 3 (some have an engine in the tail). Then I found out, no, it meant one out of 2 engines. That was hard to deal with, but they say it's doable -- probably requires awareness of what flaps or trim to adjust. 

Then one day I saw a video of an Air Force pilot somewhere in the Middle East who suffered a missile hit on his starboard wing. he lost an engine, as in bye-bye physical engine, but he also lost most of his right wing, too. I think it was an F16. Nonetheless, he was somehow able to go land on the ground safely (not on an aircraft carrier), as his landing gear was all in the fuselage. The video showed a group of men who came out to look the plane over and talk to the pilot, and everyone was amazed. As I recall the pilot was heard to say he was glad he didn't lose even one more inch of wing. They didn't want to detain him since he needed to use the bathroom, really quick.

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8 minutes ago, Neil Obstat said:

When I first heard about flying a jet plane with one engine shut down I thought it was regarding one out of 4 engines, or one out of 3 (some have an engine in the tail). Then I found out, no, it meant one out of 2 engines. That was hard to deal with, but they say it's doable -- probably requires awareness of what flaps or trim to adjust. 

There is many cases in which extremely experienced pilot rescued airplane without any engine working..

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Transat_Flight_236

 

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All airplanes can at least fly to the crash site with one engine, probably beat the para medics there by 30 minutes or so... 

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