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That was some landing


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I am in awe of this pilot who managed to put a huge aircraft down in a river and save all on board. The fuselage must have been virtually intact for it stay afloat as long as it did. What a fantastic piece of flying.

I believe we have a forum member who could tell us how this was done and I would love to know Mr Heath. And he didn't even break the wings!

Seriously I would love to hear what it takes to be able top do that.

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Am I right in thinking that is the first airliner to stay intact after ditching in water. I thought it was considered virtually impossible as the engines should rip the wings off and break the plane up. It would be good to see footage of how he did it. There couldnt have been much forward momentum. I would imagine he must have virtually stalled it in at a high angle of attack.

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Prob with the engines is that you dip one in and the whole plane skews around, then the forward momentum turns into a barrel roll - he must have put those into the drink nigh on at the same time - incredible piece of flying if you ask me.

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It was indeed an amazing piece of flying and the pilot must have been both skillful and had a little luck.

Neither engine was running, both having gone pop and I thought they didn't stay up long when that happens! Yet alone being able to land it with such precision and skill.

Well done that man.

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The pilot is a credit to the skill and calmness of such professionals. If it wasn't for his actions and a whole stack of luck that could have been a very different news story.

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Given the time available after loosing both and the decisions to make - truely awe inspiring stuff.

Whoever was pilot flying:

:):cry::unworthy:

With the underwing pylon mounted engines they usually have them fitted with shear bolts which act rather like "fuses" and snap. Engines may have broken off on impact with the water. IIRC thats how Boeing do it, Airbus is probably similar.

Also a remarkable testament to the designers and stress analysts at AB. :respect:

The glide angle is something like 1 in 40 so they are a lot better at gliding than you might think - not that you would want to test it out!

I think it may be nearer 18:1 at best L/D. So given that they only got to just over 3000ft......

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Question for you plane buffs - how does an aircraft fly like this when it has lost all engines.

Of course the thing has no propulsion but also it would lose the generators and all ability to actually fly (imagine what would happen if a plane lost all electrical power ?). Becuase planes of this size are are fly by wire I guess they have a backup power system ? Does it have something similar to the Vulcan I was reading about where you have to deploy a wind turbine to generate power for the controls / avionics / lighting etc ?

I think the only luck involved was the fact he had somewhere to ditch it ! In a city like NY who knows where he might have ended up planting it.

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The use an EPU, Emergency Power Unit which is a little ram air turbine. Nothings changed there! :)

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Does it have something similar to the Vulcan I was reading about where you have to deploy a wind turbine to generate power for the controls / avionics / lighting etc ?.

With both engines and generators out there is the RAT as you describe. That will generate enough power providing there is enough airspeed.

No doubt it was running on the back up batteries at the point of impact/landing.

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Any aeroplane will glide (even a helicopter) - it's just that some are better than others. If the donkey stops, you stick the nose down a little to maintain a good glide angle and trade off height for airspeed. The Space Shuttle glides like a brick, for example, but it's still perfectly controllable within its normal flight envelope, whereas the 4-seater Cessna I fly from the local aero club only loses (IIRC) around 1000 feet a minute when it's gliding. From a normal cruising altitude 3 minutes is a LONG time to plan an emergency landing, and engine failure drills are a large part of all pilot training.

This guy appears to be a top pilot, clearly. But luck played a part as well - from what I've seen calm waters (and plenty of space to line it up) prevented one of the engines digging in and breaking the airframe.

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I was thinking of the longest glide by an airliner, an A330, that managed about 120Km but it was out of fuel so flying light.

Was that the plane that glided all the way to the Azores from South America?

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Apparently an eye witness to the landing says the plane was extremely low and barely moving when it hit the water so the pilot must have flown it nose up to a stall and let it drop the last few feet.

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Amazing aircraft... but as noted... great pilot. To keep your head like that is a gift. As for how the aircraft stayed aloft... glide is relative to the wing loading.

The tricky part that he really pull off well was the turn. Once a turn starts, the aircraft wing loading becomes unbalanced. If a pilot takes this too far, both wings will hit critical load or non load point and then stall out... and the aircraft (any of them) will slide right out of the sky. This is actually done on purpose in bush and tight landing situations. In Alaska I have heard it called "sliding in". With power, it can be corected at the last second, so if you are landing on a river sand bar... you can "slide" wing tip down into a river bend, add power and aileron as needed to create a sudden drift turn, level out and touch down. But then bush planes I am familiar with are in no way non powered jumbos! the physics guys will tell you the pricipals are the same... but I bet they won't go out and do it either! No power? That guy rocks!

At altitude there is time to recover as the wings can be brought to a stright decent, air speed builds, and wing loading can be achieved... From the video I watched, this pilot was able to keep his head and balance on that critical pont between load, lift, and stall. He appears to have feathered pitch to maintain a reasonably slow entry, keeping just enough nose up attitude to not smack. The wings appeared to have entered the water on the trailing edge and smooth enough to not sheer the engines. There are back up hydrolic systems, but this guy really was flying level headed with Lady Luck!

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Nope. I think it was a Canadian jet. One of two other amazing pieces of Canadian aviation miracles/ heroes (the other one was the Gimli Glider....).

But being good Canadians, it somehow didn't make worldwide news and adulation......

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Apparently an eye witness to the landing says the plane was extremely low and barely moving when it hit the water so the pilot must have flown it nose up to a stall and let it drop the last few feet.

It is generally understood in the field of aviation accident investigation that eye witness accounts are of dubious value. But having said that, I wish to comment on what "barely moving" would have meant in this case:

From the Airbus manual for procedures to be used for ditching, the minimum Vapp (approach speed) is to be 150 knots. That is 173 MPH! So, "barely moving" was actually about the top speed of an Esprit V8. The actual touchdown in the water may have been at a lesser speed: but even once the approach speed was bled off in the flair, touchdown was still likely at 130-140 MPH.

Now, if the Captain chose to ignore that advice (which I doubt, but I gotta tell you: whatever he did I will make sure I do if I am ever faced with such a crappy situation!) and flew the aircraft at a lower Vapp than mandated by the Emergency Procedures Section of the Flight Manual, I can pretty much promise you the airplane wouldn't have touched down at any less than 120 MPH regardless, which would be my rough estimate of the lowest stalling speed the aircraft could have had.

Regardless, the crew did a brilliant job, and it is indeed wonderful that nobody lost a life.

Nope. I think it was a Canadian jet. One of two other amazing pieces of Canadian aviation miracles/ heroes (the other one was the Gimli Glider....).

But being good Canadians, it somehow didn't make worldwide news and adulation......

Actually, that accident happened only a few days before 9/11, which took it out of the news very quickly. This turned out to "fortunate" for Transat and the crew, since subsequent investigation unfortunately revealed that had the crew (most specifically the Captain, I believe) handled the fuel leak situation differently, the accident likely would not have happened.

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According to the news the plane was an Airbus and the engines did shear off as divers are now trying to retrieve them. It also said the survival rate for such ditches when the plane stays afloat was 80%+ which surprised me. When flying I have often wondered if anyone ever successfully used the life jackets they provide. Now I know.

It annoys me that some newscasts over here refer to it as "Miracle on the Hudson." I think that downplays the role of the pilot's skill and implies that it was more luck than judgment that no one was killed.

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... and to be further fair, I also believe the excellent outcome is equally due to the immediate response of the Coast Guard and the other watercraft. And to the flight attendants and passengers for maintaining calm and order, instead of panic.

All in all, the perfect outcome to someone "having a really bad day".

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Interview on our news this morning with someone from the NTSB who said they usually are looking for the explanation of what went wrong but in this case it was good to see that the pilot did everything right and that the plane performed as it was designed to do.

The engines are designed to shear off in exactly these circumstances to give the plane more chance of staying afloat. Also it appears that there is a "dip switch" which when used prevents water entering the cabin and in this case it had been activated by the crew.

Dave - 2000 Sport 350
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I think Airbus prefers to call it a "ditch switch", rather than a "dip switch" !

:)

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