How far can a Boeing 747 fly

Engine failure in the aircraft

The passengers on a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii got away with the horror again: The plane lost engine parts, but was able to land safely. In the face of such events, we ask ourselves the question: How long can an airplane actually fly if all engines fail?

These aircraft were able to make an emergency landing safely without engines

The longest route to date without working engines was flown in 2001 by an Airbus A330, which was en route from Toronto to Lisbon. The colossus glided through the air for a full 19 minutes without any propulsion (the machine had lost fuel since takeoff) and covered around 120 kilometers before it was able to make an emergency landing on a military airfield in the Azores.

The landing was extremely rough, but none of the approximately 300 passengers and flight attendants on board was injured. And do you remember the plane that had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River in the middle of New York in 2009? Here, too, the engines failed - the reason was a flock of geese that got into the turbines.

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How many kilometers can an airplane fly without engines?

So you don't have to worry that if all engines fail, an aircraft will fall like a stone from the sky. And flight expert Patrick Smith explains to the “Telegraph”: “A total engine failure is about as likely as a flight attendant who offers to polish your shoes.” But it has happened, as the examples above show.

How long an aircraft can fly without engines depends on the altitude and glide ratio, which vary with each type of aircraft. With a glide ratio of 1:10, an aircraft travels ten miles for every mile (approximately 1.6 kilometers) lost in altitude. At an altitude of around ten kilometers, around 100 kilometers can then be flown without a motor drive. That is more than would be necessary, for example, to fly from Munich to Innsbruck.