I was wondering why engine fire would cause of loss of control or crash. There is loss of power and even drag. But could some expert please expand on the troubles of a engine fire?

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    $\begingroup$ In a single engine aircraft this is often because the fire/smoke moves into the cockpit and incapacitates the pilot. The result is a loss-of-control and crash. Even if it doesn't cause a LOC, a pilot wants out of a burning aircraft quickly, so they are trying to get on the ground now, which often results in a crash. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ This question is fine, but please nobody link or refer it to recent events. As a reminder, we do not speculate on ongoing aircrash investigations. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ In theory, if the fire reaches an hydraulic pump or line it could lead to controls deficiency $\endgroup$
    – DeepSpace
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ Getting shot with a missile will also result in a loss of control. $\endgroup$
    – Richard
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 23:17

2 Answers 2


In general, an engine fire in a modern jet airliner should not cause a loss of control.

Even though engine fires are rare, pilots are highly trained in dealing with them. Once detected, pilots are able to cutoff the supply of fuel and hydraulic fluid to the engine, and then discharge fire extinguishing agents. Even if the fire was not extinguishable, it would most likely not damage the wing structure or controls since the heat and flames would be directly away from critical systems by the forward movement of the aircraft.

An "uncontained" catastrophic engine failure where parts of the engine penetrate the aircraft wing and fuselage could possibly cause major damage to critical systems. There have been some incidents of uncontained failures that resulted in a loss of control and fatalities.

Here is a list of Notable uncontained engine failure accidents

Three of these accidents resulted in a loss of control and fatalities. The most notable was United Airlines Flight 232 where the failure of the rear General Electric CF6-6 engine caused the loss of all hydraulics forcing the pilots to attempt a landing using differential thrust and resulted in 111 fatalities.

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    $\begingroup$ 111 fatalities, but it's still considered that it was a heroic effort on the part of the pilots that saved the lives of the other 185 in a scenario that could have very easily been worse. $\endgroup$
    – hobbs
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 21:26

The term "loss of control" can mean anything from having no control what-so-ever, to having a very slight degradation that is easily managed if it is even noticed. As the engine is the primary source of control for any powered aircraft its loss, through fire or other failure, is always significant, but exactly how significant depends on the particular circumstances involved which can range from tragic through mundane to heroic.


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