Pilots & Aircraft

Can Planes Fly With One Engine?

Can planes fly with one engine

A twin-engine aircraft can fly faultlessly on only one engine. As a matter of fact, it can even continue the flight and safely land seamlessly with just a single engine. Moreover, in-flight engine failure is not typically a serious problem and the flight deck crew are given extensive training to handle such conditions.

What do the pilots do if an engine fails?

All pilots are educated to stand by a basic aviation rule irrespective of the harshness of any airborne event.
This is brief by the acronym:

  1. Aviate
  2. Navigate
  3. Communicate

The crux of this acronym is to enhance the safety of flight and priorities flying first to take control of aircraft and then properly navigate on correct route as per flight plan and then communicate with appropriate parties, starting with Air Traffic Control.

Engine failure statistic

Overall the world’s safety statistic suggested less than 1 engine failure occur in every 1 million flights which are 25 engine shutdown in air or ground across 1 year in commercial Aviation.

Operation of Twin Engine Aircraft After one engine failure

Asymmetric Thrust / Controllability

During normal operation of aircraft, thrust is symmetrical but when the engine fails we have to increase the thrust to maintain constant airspeed but this asymmetric thrust will produce a turning/ rolling/ banking movement of Aircraft and if this is left unchecked, this will led to the loss of control of the airplane. This has to correct manually by pilots through rudder pedals to move the rudder in an offset direction for stability for balanced flight.

Altitude

During normal operation, aircraft fly at altitude up to 40000ft but when the engine will fail 50% of the aircraft’s power will be no longer available and then the aircraft will unable to maintain its normal cruise ceiling height and decent will need to rapidly commence to maintain height 15000ft-25000ft depending upon the load for normal operation.

System Redundancy

Many aircraft systems are powered by engines such as Electrical power, hydraulic pressurization, pneumatic, and Aircraft pressurization. When the engine will fail then some of the non-essential systems will be off redundancy will be reduced and workload on the remaining engine will increase. Moreover, some systems will affect controllability and performance including handling.

Landing Performance

Losing of the engine will affect landing performance in several ways, landing on that condition would require different configurations of control surfaces and flaps. Landing with lower flaps increases the distance of the landing so flight deck crew should carefully consider which airport they should elect for landing. Moreover, airport weather, runway length will also play role in this consideration of choosing an airport.

Standard operational Procedure for an Engine Damage

Different aircraft types have different handling procedures and switch names but the basic procedure is the same to secure the engine for safe flight and safe landing.

These steps are typical as follows:

1. Disengage the Autopilot mode of Auto-throttle for discontinuing automatic thrust control.
2. Decrease the thrust on the spoiled engine to the idle position.
3. Fuel regulator switch to off – to cut off the fuel valve.
4. Cut off the electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic system by pulling the fire handle.
5. If a fire is still shown in the engine after the applying fire extinguisher then uses the second bottle after a 30-second wait.

Famous Engine Failure Accidents

Flight 66 Air-France

Air-France flight 66 registered F-HPJE was scheduled from Paris to Los Angeles by A320 and it was en-route about 200 NM when disastrous engine failure occurred in 2017. The pilots descended the aircraft and averted to Goose Bay, Canada after 2 hours and safely landed the Aircraft with zero fatalities.

Flight 3472 Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines Flight 3472 with a Boeing 737-700 was scheduled from New Orleans to Orlando and engine num. #1 got failure during the climb phase and the Aircraft diverted to Pensacola International Airport of Florida for a safe landing after 20 minutes flight without any fatalities.

Flight 383 American Airlines

Flight 383 American Airlines’ Boeing 767-300ER was scheduled from Chicago to Miami in 2016 got an engine failure on its engine num. #2 engine during takeoff phase and followed on large fire that also destroyed the outer right-wing and then aircraft aborted takeoff and landed with no fatalities.

Most dangerous phase of flight on engine failure?

For a flight deck crew, the most challenging phase of flight is to have an engine failure is during the take-off till reaching the altitude of 1,500ft.
However wide-ranging training is provided for this situation and the pilots are practiced on their responses every six months in the simulator. They must safely cope with this scenario to show compatibility with this situation and they are not allowed for operation until their performance is adequate to a high standard of compatibility.

Main Reason for engine failure
1. Fire
2. Foreign Object Damage.
3. Separation from the aircraft
4. Electrical Surge
5. Stall (an engine stall is dissimilar to the aircraft wing stalling)
6. Fuel Starvation
7. Flame Out
8. High vibration
9. Limitations exceeded
10. Lightning Strike

No Problem For These modern aircraft

A twin-engine aircraft can fly faultlessly on only a single engine and land safely but Aviation legislation do not allow to take-off twin-engine Aircraft on single. Moreover, when the engine will fail then some of the non-essential systems will be off redundancy will be reduced and workload on the remaining engine will increase and reduces safety. So yes, planes can fly with one engine with no problems.

 

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