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This question already has an answer here:

I was traveling by Airbus A380 recently and I was sitting near the wing. Throughout the flight, I could hear the airplane noise even with headphones on.

Suddenly before landing, everything went silent. There was no noise at all. There was a strange silence throughout the aircraft. Everyone was scared and looking at each other, some even started praying.

But we landed perfectly fine. It was like routine landing.

So, I want to ask, whether it was normal? Or the pilot avoided telling us something went wrong?

P.S. Before starting the landing process, the pilot informed about the weather being fine and said "there's a safety manual in your seat pocket."

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marked as duplicate by fooot, SMS von der Tann, aeroalias, mins, DeltaLima Oct 18 '16 at 10:00

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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure the engines were just idling. Probably other ambient noise such as gears and flaps were louder than the idling engines. $\endgroup$ – Masse Oct 17 '16 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ No, no pilot would want to shut off engines before landing unless it was an emergency landing. Its possible the engines went to flight-idle which may be very quiet to somebody listening in the cabin. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Oct 17 '16 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ How do you think the aircraft got to the gate after landing if the engines were off? $\endgroup$ – J. Hougaard Oct 17 '16 at 15:24
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    $\begingroup$ Were thrust reversers applied after touchdown? $\endgroup$ – Jim Oct 17 '16 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Masse Also, the amount of ambient noise coming just from air rushing over the airframe shouldn't be underestimated. It's likely that the cabin was actually still relatively loud at the time, but just seemed quiet to passengers who have grown accustomed to the drone of the engines at cruise power for the last several hours. $\endgroup$ – reirab Oct 18 '16 at 4:25
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There's virtually no chance of the pilot deliberately switching off all 4 engines, and even less chance of all 4 engines failing at the same time. It's not entirely impossible for it to happen, but it definitely wouldn't be quietly ignored within the aviation community. I promise you that you would've heard about it afterwards.

That said, the A380's engines are modern, quiet, and actually mounted quite a long way out on the wings, this makes them fairly quiet when idling, even when compared to other aircraft. This is particularly noticeable after a long flight where they've been running at fairly high power for 8 or more hours, and is even more the case if you're not used to the A380, eg if you usually fly on common twins such as the A320, 737, 777 which are much louder within the cabin.

I suspect, but can't be sure, that the engines were simply pulled back to idle (minimum power/thrust) and it sounded much quieter than you expected.

But no, the engines were almost certainly not simply turned off, that just doesn't happen. The only thing I can think of that would cause that would be a flame-out, and you'd definitely notice that!

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  • $\begingroup$ This kind of implies that thrust reversers were never used and brakes only were used to slow the aircraft. Isn't that in itself uncommon? $\endgroup$ – BillDOe Oct 17 '16 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ Plus the fact that you would have stopped on the runway! $\endgroup$ – Simon Oct 17 '16 at 17:23
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    $\begingroup$ @BillOertell I can't speak to A380 operations, but on 747-100/200 aircraft, if we had a long runway and we didn't want to turn off until the end, it wasn't uncommon to not power up in reverse. It was a matter of the captain's preference. A five minute idle cooling time from last significant power was SOP, so if you avoided powering up in reverse, that five minute period started from when you went to idle just before touchdown rather than after you were down and near the end of the landing roll. Also, personally, I liked not assaulting the passengers' ears with all that noise. $\endgroup$ – Terry Oct 17 '16 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ @BillOertell. See (also): Why doesn't the A380 use its outboard thrust reversers?. Wikipedia's article says: "The A380 was initially planned without thrust reversers". $\endgroup$ – mins Oct 17 '16 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ @BillOertell an A380 will sometimes only use idle reverse, as above. And I did indeed mean cabin rather than cockpit, particularly in good weather. Idle reverse still provides a fair bit of thrust $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Oct 17 '16 at 20:04
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Two very good answers already. I just wanted to mention that as far as I can tell there are just two instances where a modern passenger jet lost all four engines. In both cases it was a B747 (in 1982 and in 1989), both due to volcanic ash, and they were both able to restart them eventually.

There is another report of a military aircraft (C17) that had a four-engine flameout in 2010 due to a lightning strike. They were still able to restart two.

In summary, it seems as there is not a single record of a four-engine passenger jet landing without operational engines.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't get what is the link between your post and the question. If there had been 2,000 aircraft that had landed safely without engines due to failures, what would that change to the possibility of voluntary landings without engines? $\endgroup$ – mins Oct 19 '16 at 16:16
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As mentioned above, what you probably experienced was the flight crew retarding the thrust levers on the engines to idle during the round out, typical of landing operations; the silence being the noticeable difference in sound as you had become used to cruise and/or descent thrust settings and the accompanying whine or noise the engines make when listened to from the cabin. I am not aware of any procedures where a crew would knowingly shut down one or both engines of an revenue carrying airliner unless it was an emergency. As a test of this, once the airplane touched down, did you hear a sound of the engines 'revving up' as the thrust reversers were deployed? If so, the engines definitely were not shut down at round out.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is an A380 too, so would require powering down of 4 engines. Unheard of outside an extreme emergency $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Oct 17 '16 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding the last part of the answer, regardless of whether reverse thrust was selected, if the plane taxied to the gate after landing rather than stopping on the runway, bringing out stairs to evacuate, and then being towed to a maintenance hangar, then the engines were definitely still running. :) $\endgroup$ – reirab Oct 18 '16 at 4:22
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Keep in mind that if something goes bad during the approach, the airplane must be able to do a go-around, i.e. full power and again airborne. If you shut down the engines you would had no time (and speed) to restart them, and that would be against the flight safety.

Even if ALL the engines had stopped (it happened more than once, principally due to lack of fuel - you can search the history of the Gimli Glider), be sure you could notice it, because you would have landed in the nearest airport (and not your intended destination), and you would have lost the cabin illumination. In that cases, the electric systems supply power to the most importants systems of the airplane, and at the cabin you should notice this effect.

You can at either case be sure the pilot would not put the flight into danger.

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