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In the movie Flight, Denzel Washington's plane loses one engine and some other controls. To keep the plane gliding, he inverts the plane until it reaches a very low altitude. At the last second he flips it back right side up so that the belly of the aircraft takes the grunt of the crash landing.

Obviously this is all hollywood and takes a lot of creative license, but I'm a bit curious as to how realistic it was. Would you actually be able to fly a large jet upside down like that?

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    $\begingroup$ You say "loses one engine", which implies that the plane has more than just one. A plane is only gliding if it has no engines running at all. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby May 26 '14 at 9:06
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It's apparently loosely based on Alaska Airlines Flight 261 and like in the actual incident, I don't think he deliberately inverts the plane. In the actual event, the horizontal stabilizer gets jammed in an extreme position thus forcing the plane to invert. Now if it were possible to fly a commercial airplane that big inverted, Alaska Airlines too would've landed safely eventually (which didn't happen, despite the pilots trying to fly it upside down according to the CVR transcripts).

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    $\begingroup$ For the record, in the movie he did intentionally invert the airplane. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger May 26 '14 at 20:47
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I'm not familiar with the movie but the scenario described is nonsense. An aircraft that is in good enough shape to perform aerobatics is in pretty damned good shape and could just continue with its flight and perform a normal landing.

Some large aircraft are capable of brief inverted flight. Tex Johnston famously barrel-rolled the Boeing 707 prototype in 1965 (Wikipedia, Youtube). The Alenia Spartan, a Hercules-sized turboprop transport, is also capable of doing barrel rolls and often does so at air shows (Youtube).

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    $\begingroup$ a barrel roll is a positive G maneuver which means that inside the plane the (apparent) gravity is still to the bottom of the plane, sustained inverted flight is much harder and unless the fuel tanks are setup for it will starve the engines at the very least $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak May 26 '14 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ The concept in the movie is that the horizontal stabilizer jack screw failed, which resulted in it fail ing to the full nose down position, with no way to control it. They then entered a steep dive and rolled inverted so that they would climb instead of descend. They weren't just doing random aerobatic maneuvers. :) $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger May 26 '14 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ Downvoted on the basis that you haven't seen the film, and therefore don't know what is being discussed here. The topic directly relates to the film, and their depiction of a crash caused by a failed horizontal stabilizer jack screw. It is therefore not an aircraft in "pretty damned good shape". $\endgroup$ – Gavin Coates May 29 '14 at 9:46

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