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I'm not even close to an aviation enthusiast, but after watching some videos I found I have a deep misunderstanding on how airplanes work. airplane image showing engine producing thrust and pushing the plane forwards.

I've seen many cases where one of the engines fail and the plane has to fly on a single engine for a long time. How doesn't the fact that the forces are now uneven drives the airplane to a side drift? (I'm sure this is all wrong, but I just don't understand how)

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

It does. Asymmetric thrust will in fact force the airplane into a turn unless the pilot counteracts this by using rudder and aileron to command an equal turn force in the other direction. Typically both opposing rudder, and banking away from the dead engine will be used to result in straight (although uncoordinated) flight.

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oh, so I was right? I watched a video about Air Transat 236, and it didn't explained that. thanks. –  wingleader May 24 at 21:28
    
Well, from 06:13 until 06:26, the plane was flying with one engine providing thrust. During those few minutes, the pilot would have had to do as Skip suggests. After 06:26, the second engine died due to fuel starvation and the airliner was then a glider. –  CGCampbell May 25 at 0:35
    
@wingleader: The interesting part of that incident was when both engines failed. One engine failing happens all the time and is not serious trouble (unless there is a secondary damage) so they would not consider that phase worthy of detailed discussion. –  Jan Hudec May 25 at 1:02
    
@Jan One engine failing happens all the time? you couldn't scare me less ): –  wingleader May 25 at 4:19
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@RussellBorogove: In 2-engine aircraft, it is always emergency (there is no danger yet, but there is no redundancy any more) and land at nearest suitable airport. In 4-engine aircraft the flight may be continued if there is enough fuel and no risk of further damage (usually when the engine was shut down manually because of indications outside limits rather than quit itself). Then it's up to discussion with dispatch. –  Jan Hudec May 25 at 19:58

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