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A passenger plane with two or more engines would probably land without big difficulties with one engine inoperative.

  • Would the passengers be notified, asking to take the brace position during landing?
  • Would such event have an accident investigation report?
  • Would this report later be available for general public, as are the reports of various significant air disasters?
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1  
losing an engine means diverting to nearest airport and landing there IIRC –  ratchet freak Jul 6 at 13:21
    
@ratchet freak: Nearest suitable airport. So some pilot discretion involved. –  Skip Miller Jul 8 at 0:29
    
@ratchetfreak: In 2-engined aircraft yes (and emergency shall be declared). 4-engined aircraft may, and often do, continue as permitted by fuel on board. –  Jan Hudec Jul 14 at 18:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

To certify any Commercial Jet Plane worthy of flying,

a 2 engine plane must be able fly with just 1 engine running

a 3 engine jet like the Lockheed L1011 or DC10 with just 1

a 4 engine jet with just 2. Although not a requirement, the 747, A380 could fly on one engine but are not be able to maintain the cruise altitude indefinitely and will eventually become long-range gliders so they must land immediately.

The landing approach and procedures vary on how much the plane weighs prior to landing.

Would the passengers be notified, asking to take the brace position during landing?

Brace Positions are only assumed on impact emergencies, like crash landings. Losing an engine doesn't mean you are going to crash so no brace will be assumed.

Would such event have an accident investigation report?

There will be an investigation but if the plane landed safely it wont be filed as an accident. The plane plus the engines passed its FAA, EASA, etc Certification so it may be a number of reasons why the engine malfunctioned, like bad maintenance, faulty parts etc.

This is an extract from wikepedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbine_engine_failure

Shut downs that are not engine failures

Most in-flight shutdowns are harmless and likely to go unnoticed by passengers. For example, it may be prudent for the flight crew to shut down an engine and perform a precautionary landing in the event of a low oil pressure or high oil temperature warning in the cockpit.

However, passengers may become quite alarmed by other engine events such as a compressor surge — a malfunction that is typified by loud bangs and even flames from the engine’s inlet and tailpipe. A compressor surge is a disruption of the airflow through a gas turbine engine that can be caused by engine deterioration, a crosswind over the engine’s inlet, ingestion of foreign material, or an internal component failure such as a broken blade. While this situation can be alarming, the condition is momentary and not dangerous.

Other events such as a fuel control fault can result in excess fuel in the engine’s combustor. This additional fuel can result in flames extending from the engine’s exhaust pipe. As alarming as this would appear, at no time is the engine itself actually on fire. Also, the failure of certain components in the engine may result in a release of oil into bleed air that can cause an odor or oily mist in the cabin. This is known as a fume event. The dangers of fume events are the subject of debate in both aviation and medicine.

Would this report later be available for general public, as are the reports of various significant air disasters?

It depends, as you read above the flight deck crew may shut down an engine because of low oil pressure. Would that have significance of becoming public knowledge?

However as an example, if the problem of an engine failure escalates to the manufacturer then the airline may ground the fleet and that then becomes public knowledge and the reason why because the airliner would give media statements.

It all depends on the severity of the problem. Like this one that got reported --- http://www.b737.org.uk/accident_reports.htm

20 August 2007; B-18616, 737-800, 30175/1182, FF 11 Jul 02, Okinawa, Japan:

Engine #1 caught fire shortly after docking destroying the aircraft. No fatalities. The cause was the detachment of a slat pylon bolt which fell off and pierced the fuel tank which leaked and ignited. According to the JTSB the washer that should have held the nut in place probably detached during maintenance 6 weeks before the incident. The design of the nut has since been changed to limit the likelihood of detachment.

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Engine shut-down is always a serious incident and as such it should be investigated and the record published (depending on the thoroughness of the overseeing authority some may fall through the cracks). They are not often run through media, but you can find them in bulletins published by the relevant authorities. Representative selection is also published on The Aviation Herald –  Jan Hudec Jul 14 at 20:12

1) "would probably land without difficulty" - you have it right there. If there are no other complications, there would be no need to have the pax assume the brace position.

2) You may regard this as semantics, but an engine failure followed by a normal landing does not meet the FAA definition of an accident. Would it be reported to the airline maintenance folks and the FAA as a matter of routine? Of course.

3) See #2. Since the scenario as presented doesn't rise to the level of an accident, there will be no accident report. This does not rise to the level of a "significant air disaster."

Having said that, there are many ways an engine-out situation can lead to an accident with severe consequences. Then the reports will be flying! (Pun intended...) Google 'Captain Al Haynes United Flight 232' for one example.

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UA 232 was one hell of a flight. But that was an all engines out scenario. @OP, check out BA Flight 9. –  shortstheory Jul 6 at 15:19
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@shortstheory: That is incorrect. The DC-10 had a single uncontained engine failure that destroyed all hydraulic systems rendering all flight controls inoperative. Using differential thrust on the remaining engines allowed the crew to bring the plane down to a crash landing on the runway so that many survived. –  Skip Miller Jul 6 at 15:54
    
Single engine inoperative scenario? China Airlines 006 –  Federico Jul 6 at 16:50
    
@SkipMiller, yes, that is correct. I'm sorry I must have mixed it up with another crash at the time of commenting. –  shortstheory Jul 7 at 4:14
    
It does not meet definition of accident, but it does meet definition of significant incident and those are investigated as well. The report will be usually brief (often just paragraph in a summary bulletin), but NTSB (not FAA) (or appropriate agency in other countries) will at least want to review the maintenance log to check for potential systemic or recurring problems. –  Jan Hudec Jul 14 at 20:24
  • Would the passengers be notified, asking to take the brace position during landing?

If the aircraft is going to divert, and in most cases it is1, it's not possible to avoid passengers noticing. They will not be asked to assume brace position though, because the landing will be mostly normal on runway with properly deployed landing gear.

  • Would such event have an accident investigation report?

It will have incident or accident investigation report.

Accident is defined as occurence causing death, injury or significant damage to the aircraft except engines or gear. So most engine failures won't be qualified as accidents (including some uncontained failures).

They will however be qualified as serious incidents2 and those are investigated as well. Reports of such incidents are usually brief, often just paragraph in summary bulletin, but the overseeing authority (in USA that's NTSB) will usually at least want to carefully review the maintenance findings and logs to check for potential signs of systemic or recurring problem.

  • Would this report later be available for general public, as are the reports of various significant air disasters?

They should be.

These incidents rarely appear in mainstream media, but The Aviation Herald has a representative selection3 of them or you can go to the various sites of the relevant authorities. Authority overseeing the engine manufacturer will usually be involved, so NTSB (USA), AAIB (UK), BEA (France) and MAK (Russia/CIS) will probably cover most, or at least most of the notable, of the incidents.

1In a 2-engine aircraft engine out is always emergency and requires landing at nearest suitable airport. In aircraft with more engines the flight may be continued but with less thrust the aircraft has to drift to lower flight level and the fuel burn is higher and the flight often has to divert due to fuel shortage (it is not emergency, so it does not warrant using the required fuel reserves).

2Incidents are rated in several classes. The most severe is class is called "serious incident" and each instance of serious incident gets it's own investigation.

3Not all, because some authorities are more thorough than other, so the respective countries would look worse when they are actually safer. Explained in this article, but unfortunately it has no anchors to make direct link. Search for "percent of all daily occurrences". Canadian TSB is mentioned as most thorough.

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