Should an emergency landing be necessary for a commercial aircraft on a Polar Route on water or in the unoccupied, secluded Arctic outback (e.g. Siberia, Far Northern Canada).

  1. What is the time interval for aid to arrive (I write 'interval' because I know that this question depends on the location)?

  2. How likely would the passengers survive in the freezing cold (for brevity, I call this 'frigidity') in their cabin clothes? Assume that they are not equipped with clothes or gear for frigidity.

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    $\begingroup$ Landing in the middle of an ocean, in a desert, or in the Rockies is also dangerous... There are conditions for flying in the polar regions. See Wikipedia, /// Boeing /// and FAA $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jun 23, 2016 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ If we had some cases to judge from… but I can't remember a single accident on a polar route (on some flights to bases in Antarctica, yes, one sight-seeing flight in Antarctica (Air New Zeland 901), but not scheduled line over polar route). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 23, 2016 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ Unless there is training for this or some specific example, any answer is going to be purely speculation (opinion). You can assume the time "interval" will be the amount of time it took the downed aircraft to get there + discovery time + mobilization time. As for how long they would last, it depends greatly on where they crashed, extent of injuries, and amount of shelter they have, along with any basic survival skills. There is no way to answer this factually... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 23, 2016 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ Notice that "for brevity" you inserted 6 words in the middle of the last paragraph in order to save one word at the end of that paragraph. $\endgroup$
    – David K
    Jun 23, 2016 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ This may be a great question to ask on SE:The Great Outdoors maybe? $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2016 at 14:08

1 Answer 1

  1. Depending on where you are it will take around 4 hours to 3 days, if the location is know. Depending on how remote your location is, and if the SAR team knows your location (Sometimes forgotten by pilots after a emergency landing.). If the location isn't known, the search can take up to 2 weeks, finding you and your passengers dead.

  2. Let's say temperature is -10 degrees Celsius, it will take around 1-3 hours without any clothing or external heat source (like a camp-fire) to start hypothermia. Although the critical point of Hypothermia is 25 degrees Celsius, people survived 14 degrees Celsius. The best thing you can do during this plane crash is stay closely together and if possible start a camp-fire. Drink hot water (just take some ice and put it on the fire) with a lot of sugar (or anything else that gives you energy) and just do anything to keep yourself heated until help arrives.

If possible, keep the navigation lights, strobe lights on of the plane until battery runs out of fuel. This increases the chance being found in time.

  • $\begingroup$ I think your times may be off on the search. With significantly intact wreckage, its very probable that the ELT is intact and functioning. In fact the ELT requirement stems from a 1972 crash involving Hale Boggs in Alaska when the wreckage was never found. Now ELT's can be picked up and triangulated by satellite so its unlikely to take that long to find one provided they crashed on land and the wreckage is somewhat intact. Now ELT's can locate you in 4 minutes or less. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 23, 2016 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Do agree, but he doesn't specify the aircraft, and my scenario of "can't be found" is: No ELT, Broken wreckage, no radio available, etc. $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2016 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ Even still, where do you get those times from? If they crashed 500 feet off the end of Anchorage runway it would take them 5 minutes to get there. The Hale Boggs reference I posted still hasn't been found to this day 44 years later. Where does the 2 weeks come from? Why 3 days (the airplane didn't spend 3 days flying there)? The 1972 Andes Crash had survivors for more than 2 months (via some gruesome means) before they were rescued... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jun 23, 2016 at 13:37