Engine Out over water?

flyboy04

Well-Known Member
Hey guys i was just sitting here and thinking about what would happen if you had an engin failure, or some other failure over a large body of water, (like the ocean). I know that from Dougs pictures at the delta training center they must practice emerginicies like this, but what would you do? Same as over land and just try to hit the water really really softy? Im just curious to know the procedures, i hope im never put in a situation where i NEED them!
 

EatSleepFly

Well-Known Member
There's a whole section in the AIM (6-3-3) about ditching, and often if you live near large bodies of water (oceans, great lakes, etc.) there will be FAA Safety Seminars about ditching. I've been to two. They're pretty informative, the Coast Guard usually comes in and talks for a bit, etc. The idea is to land on the backside of a swell (as opposed to the face), or if its really big, on top. In the AIM there's a bunch of different figures for what to do in various wind/wave conditions.

While we're on the subject...Anyone ever taken actual water emergency egress training, where you actually do it in a mockup? I'd like to do it, just wondering if anyone has any input on it...
 

Eagle

New Member
We did the dunk tanks thing way back, sit on a chairattached to a large platform and it flips you over, supposed to simulate a capsided ship or boat, kinda lame.

as for over water. If no one is talking to you (atc - flt following etc) you are SOL. Guess which marine rescue services monitor 121.5, **IF** you can get a distress call out...

NONE!

Remember, any airplane can be a seaplane... Once.
 

IrishSheepdog

Sitting in the median
Two tips:

1) Follow your bubbles. The plane might flip over, and you won't know which was is up while sinking.

2) Open your doors and windows prior to touchdown. The water pressure will most likely keep you from opening them upon impact. Also, structural bending may keep the doors closed for good.

I fly in the proximity of Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline often... these types of things are always going through my mind.
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
In some Cessnas I have flown you can actually 'lock' the doors open, which would be VERY useful.

About the bubbles thing, I think it'd be mass confusion immeaditely following the impact. You'd also have bubbles all around you (air escaping all parts of the plane). Remember that people naturaly float... if you sit there you'll bob to the surface; I think the worst possible situation would be a ditching on a dark night in adverse weather
 

BlueStreak

New Member
Heck, I just stay away from the large bodies of water. I've been across Lake Michigan a time or two but had plenty of altitude. It is still nothing I like to do, I never like the feeling of not having a *safe* place to land if I run into troubles. I guess that comes from the fact that I have had engine troubles and know that it CAN happen to me. The thought of going into the water gives me the creeps. Every so often I fly to South Haven (along Lake Michigan) and you get a great view of the lake. It's beautiful on a nice sunny day, but I still stay plenty close to the shore - especially in the winter...can you imagine having to ditch in the winter! Now if I had myself a jet, I would have no problem flying over the lakes and oceans but with piston aircraft I have mostly been advised to just stay clear.
 

I_Money

Moderator
I think Ed raised a very good point, about not flying over water in foul weather and/or at night time. Flying over water is dangerous enough, I would not want the odds to be stacked against me.

I am surprised that no one has mentioned taking life vests. IMHO it is a very good idea to have some with you if you plan to fly over water.

It is said the best way to land on water is with a tail strike. I am not sure the purpose (slowest approach speed, best angle to entry, etc), however it is certainly worth bringing it into conversation.

You know on your safety card they have pictures of airlines on the water with the life rafts out, but did you know the crews have not actually been trained to ditch an airliner. I guess they have talked, thought about it, however it would a learn as you land experience.
 

E_Dawg

Moderator
[ QUOTE ]
It is said the best way to land on water is with a tail strike.

[/ QUOTE ]

Said by whom? Just curious...

If it is the best way it would only work if you have a really good way to judge your height... even then a tail strike would be tough if not impossible without any power to help.

I personally would set it at minimum sink speed (probably around 50kts for the 172... my guess anyways); then as I got closer I'd decide if I could flare or not.

My biggest concern would be flipping... but supposedly that has more to do with luck than anything else.
 

cointyro

New Member
On the topic of commercial airliners ditching...

I read somewhere that all ditch scenarios are basically absurd. The pictures that show the passengers stepping into life rafts is crazy, the aircraft will probably break up, flip over, and sink so fast there is no time to gather around rafts emanating from the emergency exits.

But maybe the pictures make everyone feel better.

You can always hope to "pull a Tom Hanks"-style maneuver in Castaway...
 

albatross

New Member
To my knowledge, an airliner has only successfully ditched once- a DC-9 in the Caribbean after running out of fuel. Amazingly the aircraft remained intact, although it sank pretty quickly, and most of the passengers survived.
 

Mr_Creepy

Well-Known Member
I have a friend who ditched a 172. He said that tail strike thing is impossible. Pete told me he tried to pull back and get the tail down but it just doesn't work without power.

He put it in 31 miles off of Palm Beach (PBI.) He was returning from a diving trip when the engine quit at 6500'. His words:

"It was an unequivocable, dead stop. The shoulder harness snapped. Good thing I had put a jacket up on the glareshield because my head hit it hard. The plane flipped immediately. I was dazed for a second but started to come to as the plane started righting itself. Actually the it was starting to sink nose first. I already had my mask and snorkel around my neck and tried to grab my BC but it was stuck on something and the plane was going down. I managed to grab an air tank. I kept that between my legs and thought maybe I could feed it to a shark if I needed to.

As I got clear of the aircraft it was starting to go down, nose first. I spit in my mask to clear it and remember seeing my Flight Guide floating in the rear window. As I put my mask on I looked under the water to see the plane sinking but it was gone! Had already sunk out of site."

Fortunately for Pete there was an American Eagle Shorts in the vicinity who came and circled him until the Coast Guard arrived. The Coast Guard Falcon ejected a life raft which Pete climbed in to while he was awaiting the Helicopter:

"The raft was pretty cool. I got in and started seeing what was in there. All kinds of stuff. I sat back and had a few candy bars and just waited. I hadn't been scared so much until then. All I could think of was, 'Thank God for American Eagle.' The Coast Guard never would have found me otherwise. By the way, those inflatable life vests are almost worthless. Every third wave crashed over my head. Without the mask and snorkel I would have taken a lot of water in my mouth."

I later met and interviewed the two pilots who were flying the Shorts. Maybe I'll tell their story in the next post.
 

Eagle

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
To my knowledge, an airliner has only successfully ditched once- a DC-9 in the Caribbean after running out of fuel. Amazingly the aircraft remained intact, although it sank pretty quickly, and most of the passengers survived.

[/ QUOTE ]

naaa it has happened a few times,

here is one from the 1950s where everyone lived,

http://www.255wpg.org/reunions/2001/2001.htm
 

I_Money

Moderator
I am not sure where I heard that, but I believe it is quite common knowledge. I guess without an engine it would not work, but if you are ditching due to fire/smoke, or if you have some engine power it is an option.

Without an engine I agree with Ed, minimum decent rate and as slow as you can is your best bet.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
I think Ed raised a very good point, about not flying over water in foul weather and/or at night time. Flying over water is dangerous enough, I would not want the odds to be stacked against me.



[/ QUOTE ]

How so? How is flying at night over land (say, the middle of the desert) or even in mountainous terrain, clear or in IMC, any safer?

I'd say you're safer over water. MSL always equals AGL, so you know exactly where you are.
 

albatross

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
naaa it has happened a few times,

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks for the correction Eagle. Was that DC-9 maybe the only jetliner to successfully ditch? Successful is a relative term I guess, there was considerable loss of life, though well over half lived. I know other jetliners have ditched and had survivors, but it seems like they always flipped and were split to pieces with only a few coming out alive. That spectacular footage of the big jet that ditched just off the beach of somewhere comes to mind, in the 90's I think. Pretty awful sight.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
. That spectacular footage of the big jet that ditched just off the beach of somewhere comes to mind, in the 90's I think. Pretty awful sight.

[/ QUOTE ]

Ethiopian Airlines, B-767, 23 Nov 96. Cap attempted ditching next to shore after jet was hijacked and eventually ran out of fuel. Hijackers fought with flight crew as the aircraft was touching down, causing it to bank, catch a wing on water contact, and ground (water) loop.
 

chunk75

Well-Known Member
A few tips I remember from water survival...

1. Before you hit the wet stuff, get a reference point. A known position in the aircraft like the door frame. Keep your hand on it as long as possible. Try to re-establish the ref. point if you lose it. There is a good chance that you'll be upside down and you'll be confused.

2. Wait until all violent motion stops before egressing.

3. If there are other people in the aircraft, DO NOT KICK getting out!

4. If wearing flotation, do not inflate it until you are well clear of the aircraft.

5. Expect it to be dark, cold, and confusing...don't panic.

Once at the surface, get everyone together and bring your knees to your chest to conserve heat. Tie yourselves to each other.

It's a tough situation, but survivable. Contact your friendly neighborhood Naval Air Station and ask if they have a "Water and Flight Physiology" course that you can attend. It is well worth it! Not all bases have it.

The ones that I know that do:

Pensacola
Jax
Miramar
Brunswick (pretty sure on that one)
El Toro
Whidbey?
K-Bay, Hawaii
Oceana
Pax River, MD (?)



Chunk
 

vipermcg

New Member
I remeber reading anout a Panam plane that had to ditch over the pacific a while back. The pilots did such a good job, that all the passangers and crew were able to leisurley walk out of the plane and into the life rafts. Everyone survived.
 

Eagle

New Member
[quoteI'd say you're safer over water. MSL always equals AGL, so you know exactly where you are.

[/ QUOTE ]

true but I can walk a hell of a lot farther than I can swim.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
[quoteI'd say you're safer over water. MSL always equals AGL, so you know exactly where you are.

[/ QUOTE ]

true but I can walk a hell of a lot farther than I can swim.

[/ QUOTE ]

Also true. But you'll have an easier time knowing when you're going to impact, than at night over the middle of nowhere.

Pending you survive either impacts, for that matter.
 
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