Emergency Landings and why they occur

Published: September 21, 2019


Is your plane undergoing an emergency landing, but you don’t understand why? Who wouldn’t panic when your pilot announces that your airplane will be undergoing an emergency landing? Here are a few reasons for emergency landings!

Sometimes, emergency landings must occur when turbine engine failure occurs. Turbine engine failure occurs due to turbine engine malfunction, as the name says, and NOT due to lack of fuel, as some people would assume it to be due to that.

This would mean that the turbine engine is no longer producing power that is required by the aircraft to move forward. During an engine shutdown, the pilot must act quickly and decide whether or not an emergency landing should be done.

If the pilot decides to perform an emergency landing, they usually land near the fire department area near the runway. The fire department will then inspect the aircraft to make sure everything is okay for now before the aircraft can continue with parking and the passengers can un-board the aircraft.

emergency landings and why they occur

Fortunately, there is an upside to this story. Modern turbine engines that are used in present time airplanes are much more advanced than it was in the part and, hence, are highly reliable. However, in the rare case of something odd occurring that requires an emergency landing, it is good to know why.

emergency landings and why they occur

Nowadays, such turbine engines are regularly checked in order to prevent any unwanted situations to occur. Of course, it is still possible for an aircraft’s engine to malfunction mid-flight, therefore requiring an emergency landing. In fact, the FAA stated that a turbine engine aircraft has a failure rate of 1 per 375 000 flight hours, which is rather a rare occasion.

Back in 2005, a terrible incident occurred that traumatised the lives of 369 people. On February 20, 2005, British Airways Flight 268, scheduled to fly from LAX (Los Angeles) to LHR (London Heathrow) took off from LAX airport and almost immediately had their innermost engine burst into flames.

The pilots decided not to land, however, as there are still three other working engines. The aircraft finally reached Manchester Airport and underwent an emergency landing that was expected to have been done hours before. The aircraft finally landed under terms of “insufficient fuel available” to reach London Heathrow.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities, all 369 passengers (including crew members) survived! The engine was said to have burst into flames due to an engine surge. There are so many more cases of crashes or emergency landings that has occurred over the century.

emergency landings and why they occur

Other reasons in which an emergency landing may occur would include cracked windshields, loss of Cabin pressure, Bad weather, Drunk passengers, Odours and smells, etc. For obvious reasons, loss of cabin pressure would be highly dangerous as it may lead to hypoxia.

Hypoxia is defined as the lack of oxygen in body tissues which are due to a shortage of oxygen molecules present in the air or due to physiological/pathological issues that affects the blood circulation/quantity of oxygen carried by haemoglobin (Hb) in blood such as carbon monoxide poisoning or cardiovascular diseases.

The effects of hypoxia would include a sense of fatigue, confusion, impaired decision making, the inability to concentrate, reduction in reflex, loss of consciousness, and even death on the worst cases. The dangers of hypoxia are due to the fact that hypoxia may come unnoticeable as there are no major visible/noticeable symptoms making it more dangerous for oblivious aircraft crew members.

On August 14, 2005, Helios Airways Boeing 737 Flight 522, flew from Larnarca to Athens, Greece. They received first clearance to ascend by the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) at just 4 1/2 minutes after take off. This, unfortunately, was the last contact the aircraft has with the ATC. The two pilots on board of the aircraft were reported to be incapacitated and were, at that time, absent from the flight deck. The aircraft then crashed into terrain areas 3 hours after they lost contact with the ATC and all 121 occupants were killed.

Bad weather could cause icing to occur. Icing is the formation of ice on the surface or within the engine of an aircraft that results in the alteration of speed and hence, requiring greater power to maintain the speed. Bad weather would also pose dangers to VFR pilots as they will not be able to look out the horizon as they should.

emergency landings and why they occur

With all this in mind, emergency landings are for your own good. It may be an inconvenience to get out of the plane and get a delay, especially when you are chasing the time, but each life is precious and safety is the number 1 priority.


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