11
$\begingroup$

The emergency landing of Hauptmann Siegfried Heltzel in a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter at the Nörvenich Air Base on 02 June 1965 is often mentioned as the record for the highest landing speed. The emergency landing became necessary after a mid-air collision with a Dornier Do-28. The landing speed is given as 435 km/h (270 mph). According to German-language sources, this value refers to touchdown; however, I didn’t find any source that mentions whether it corresponds to airspeed or ground speed.

Is this (still) the absolute record?

I am mainly interested in comparable parameter values of similar incidents in order to judge whether the above-mentioned emergency landing really was (or still is) an absolute record. Nevertheless, I would be glad about any information on possibly record-breaking incidents in closely related categories.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ What is your criteria for measuring speed? At threshold, at touchdown, something else? Airspeed, groundspeed? $\endgroup$ – mins Dec 27 '16 at 21:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @mins preferably at touchdown; however, if other records use a different reference value, I would be happy to accept that. $\endgroup$ – Loong Dec 27 '16 at 21:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Loong you should edit your question to put this precision into it. $\endgroup$ – Manu H Dec 27 '16 at 21:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Loong Also, please edit to specify ground speed or airspeed, as mins mentioned. $\endgroup$ – reirab Dec 27 '16 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ Do we include the Thrust SSC? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Dec 28 '16 at 20:19
12
$\begingroup$

If that's the case, Hauptmann Hetzel was one uped by an Israeli F-15 pilot named Zivi Nedivi, who landed his jet with only one wing after a MAC with an A-4. The touchdown speed was estimated to be at 260 kts (300 mph, 480 km/h). That's the fastest landing I'm aware of where the pilot lived to tell the tale.

https://theaviationist.com/2014/09/15/f-15-lands-with-one-wing/

Now the highest known approach speed during normal operations, I believe, goes to the North American X-15 research aircraft/spacecraft, which crosses the fence at some 211 KIAS (242 mph, 388 km/h).

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/news/FactSheets/FS-052-DFRC.html

Also known to have very high approach speeds were the M2-F2, M2-F3, HL-10, and X-24A lifting body research aircraft with Vrefs in the 190-200 KIAS range.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Don't forget the Space Shuttle! Flying final at around 300 kt. Granted, it bleeds off about 100 kt of that during the flare before actually touching the ground. $\endgroup$ – reirab Dec 28 '16 at 10:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ All the test aircraft I described begin their approaches st somewhere in the order of 300kts, then fly a long round out, losing 100 or so knots prior to touchdown. $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Dec 28 '16 at 13:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For the Shuttle, the 300 kt was short final, about 12 seconds before crossing the threshold. :) It was about 240 KIAS at the runway threshold. $\endgroup$ – reirab Dec 28 '16 at 16:42
11
$\begingroup$

Missing the F-104G by just 5 mph, Cathay 780 was probably the highest landing speed achieved in a commercial airliner. The engines on the A330 were not responsive to thrust inputs, and the crew landed with 230 knots (426 km/h) groundspeed.

$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

I doubt 270 mph has been exceeded for an airliner, but it is possible depending on the aircraft.

The worst case scenario would be a max weight takeoff followed by an immediate flap less landing.

The B747-800 has a max takeoff weight over 900,000 lbs. If one had to had to do a flap-less emergency landing shortly after a max weight takeoff (and unable to dump fuel), it would use Vref 30+40 (about 226 knots) for an approach speed, and that would be about 260 mph.

I don't have access to all the B747 speeds, but this chart does give an idea of the speeds needed for a flaps up landing.

Source: B-747-400 Flight Crew Training manual enter image description here

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ It's just 747-8, not 747-800. $\endgroup$ – Sean Apr 27 '18 at 1:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.