If you are flying to the most remote airport(according to simple flying most remote airport is Mataveri International Airport), while flying on a typical airliner with normal weather, in the event of a dual engine failure right at the middle point of the flight, would you be able to glide to the destination airport or origin airport for that matter?

After answer from @Mike Sowsun saying you only have roughly about 100 miles to glide, I went to FR24 to the Gulf Of Mexico to find a shorter , simpler, less extreme flight and found this United flight(Houston->Belize) right in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. In this case, if this airplane loses both engines at this point, does this means is game over? enter image description here Screenshot taken on 2024-04-09

(I measured the distance on google maps from this point to all land points and is definitely more than 100 miles)

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    $\begingroup$ The whole point of ETOPS is, you plan to be able to lose 1 engine & get to a suitable airport within a specified time (sometimes 60 minutes, sometimes 180, depending on the specific certification). The possibility of losing the 2nd engine in that timeframe is in the category of "accepted risk" -- it's sufficiently unlikely (i.e. 99.9999999% of all flights, "nine nines," won't have it happen) that we're willing to live with the not-quite-zero possibility. There is no perfect safety in the world, but 1-in-a-billion is considered acceptable odds. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 9 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ I know a dual failure is rare, but actually happened recently at Naples: youtube.com/watch?v=64aLtnT5E8s $\endgroup$
    – Gabe
    Apr 9 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ Not all aircraft are ETOPS certified, and some things (bad fuel, running out of fuel) can demolish the assumption of independent failures. ETOPS programs are set up very carefully to avoid those sorts of non-independent failures. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 10 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I'm not expert on ETOPS, but does ETOPS certified provides conditions for fueling an aircraft from two different sources in case of fuel contamination scenario? (the same way pilot and copilot eat different meals) $\endgroup$
    – Gabe
    Apr 10 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ Not necessarily, but quality checks on the fuel could be more frequent & strict. Airline fueling is a very controlled, consistent process, compared to what GA & bizjets may experience. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 10 at 2:45

1 Answer 1


No, if you were in the middle of a flight, you would not be able to glide to an airport. A typical airliner, at typical cruise altitudes, would have a maximum glide distance of about only 100 miles. (very rough estimate)

There have been at least two cases where a passenger airliner has experienced total engine failure and glided to a safe landing.

Gimli Glider

Air Transat Flight 236

  • $\begingroup$ oh wow didn't knew the glide distance was that small. Well, correction, thinking about it actually is not that bad. $\endgroup$
    – Gabe
    Apr 9 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ A typical airliner has the glide ratio of a low end glider -- typically 20:1. That means from an altitude of 10 km, you'd get a maximum of about 200 km glide distance. In practice, you get less than that due to maneuvering, weather, RAT deployment, and having to lower landing gear well ahead to be sure you have it down in time. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 9 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ @ZeissIkon shame on the pilot who falls short of the airport because of lowering the gear and flaps! I hope that the airline pilots are well-enough trained not to configure for landing until the field is made. (Of course, the number one reason for glider crashes is the plane coming up short, so if even glider pilots get it wrong frequently, I'm not sure what that says about jetliner pilots). $\endgroup$ Apr 11 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget the gear takes longer to come down when you don't have a running turbine or APU to power it (most airliners don't have a "gravity" extend mode, AFAIK). Pilots who don't intend to belly land might have to start lowering gear a fair way out to be sure it has time to lock. The decision which strip to land on is where you;d come up short, anyway -- as almost happened with the Gimli Glider. $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 12 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget Sully, and this is the list of airline flights that required gliding in the last 80 years. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Apr 13 at 16:47

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