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  • On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549

  • flew into a flock of Canadian geese

  • shortly after taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

  • The plane lost all engine power while flying over Manhattan.

  • Their options?

  • Attempt to land on the Hudson River

  • or crash into one of the densest cities in the US.

  • Clip: I don't know. I think he said he was

  • going in the Hudson.

  • Narrator: Thanks to clear conditions, expert piloting,

  • and a quick response from emergency crews,

  • all 150 passengers survived.

  • You may have heard this story before,

  • but it's not the only time

  • something like this has happened.

  • And despite that success,

  • landing a plane on the water is extremely dangerous.

  • Ditching is a controlled emergency landing on water.

  • It can be caused by almost anything,

  • but usually it's because of engine failure

  • or running out of fuel.

  • Pilots only decide to ditch an aircraft

  • when there is no better alternative.

  • Despite the difficulty,

  • pilots don't undergo extensive training on ditching.

  • Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549,

  • told The Telegraph in 2018:

  • Carolina Anderson: You really don't practice,

  • not even in the airplane

  • or in the simulator,

  • but most airlines will cover it in training.

  • But it's not something

  • that is mandated for every airplane.

  • Narrator: That's Carolina Anderson.

  • She's an associate professor of aeronautical science

  • at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

  • Anderson pointed out that it's rare

  • to have to ditch an airplane.

  • Anderson: It's not something that is very common.

  • You see them in smaller airplanes more often,

  • in big airliners not very often.

  • Narrator: Planes are usually tested using simulations,

  • rather than actual bodies of water.

  • The aircraft needs to float long enough

  • for passengers to evacuate.

  • But pilots have to worry about more than just the plane.

  • Unlike landing on a runway, there are a lot of variables

  • that are out of the pilot's control.

  • The most obvious is the waves.

  • The larger the waves, the more dangerous the landing.

  • Pilots try to land parallel to the waves,

  • instead of across them,

  • so the waves don't push the plane around,

  • which could cause damage to the plane,

  • injure passengers, and make evacuating more difficult.

  • Like in 1956, when Pan Am Flight 6 had to ditch

  • in the Pacific between Honolulu and San Francisco.

  • Upon landing, a wing hit a swell,

  • rotating the plane 180 degrees,

  • damaging the nose, and breaking off the tail.

  • Luckily, everyone survived.

  • While ditching, pilots have to keep the wings level

  • and maintain an incoming angle

  • that's not too steep to prevent a hard impact.

  • Inside the plane, the passengers will be told

  • to brace for impact.

  • And anything loose in the cabin will need to be tied down.

  • Another huge factor is the weather.

  • Clear conditions give a pilot better control

  • over the aircraft and increased visibility.

  • Pilots balance all of these variables

  • in order to prevent the aircraft from breaking apart.

  • If a plane breaks upon impact,

  • there is a huge risk of flooding.

  • Anderson: You're not going to float for very long,

  • and if you land too hard, the chances of breaking it

  • are very high because water is going to get in

  • and it's going to start sinking.

  • Narrator: And if a plane flips over,

  • flooding will occur much faster.

  • Anderson: Basically, you want to touch down as slow

  • and as soft as possible.

  • If the airplane has retractable landing gear,

  • you want the gear to be up

  • and you want the flaps to be completely down.

  • Narrator: If the landing is successful,

  • the next step is getting everyone off the plane.

  • Which has to happen quickly,

  • since the Federal Aviation Administration requires planes

  • to be able to be evacuated within 90 seconds.

  • Thankfully, modern planes are equipped

  • with a bunch of safety features to help

  • passengers if an aircraft is ditched.

  • Commercial planes use rafts and flotation devices

  • like life preservers.

  • They also come with flares and emergency radios.

  • Airplanes are designed so that a water landing

  • won't cause immediate harm to passengers.

  • Many ditching-related deaths are from drowning,

  • not the impact.

  • But don't let this discourage you from flying.

  • Forced water landings are unlikely to happen,

  • especially on a commercial flight.

  • Whenever flying, you should listen

  • to safety instructions carefully.

  • And always remain calm.

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549

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How Planes Are Able To Land On Water

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/30
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