Is is possible for a flight simulator software to simulate the real time scenario of landing an aircraft on a water body. There are instances of this (Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961, US Airways Flight 1549) and the results were catastrophic/great based on the type of water body they landed on and the situation which brought them there and several other parameters.

But I want to know if it is possible for a complex computer program to create this scenario effectively and thereby better equip the pilot ?

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    $\begingroup$ I like "water landing" as an euphemism for "an airplane crash in the water." $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 3:27

1 Answer 1


Technically yes, but I do not know of any simulator which includes this. The water forces can be calculated in the same way as the air forces, so I see no reason why it should't be possible.

Historically, model tests were made to check that a new airplane would behave well when landing on water. The simplest tests would use a catapult and launch the aircraft model into a lake, and more thorough tests use water tanks where the airplane model is pulled along the water surface while being suspended on a rig. This allows to measure forces, while the catapult launch will only show the dynamics of a water landing. Results like these could be used to calibrate the computer model, so you can be sure it behaves like the real thing.

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    $\begingroup$ afaik, the problem with the simulation of such an impact is the free surface condition (the boundary between air and water): it creates several complications in simulating the behaviour of the water mass and thus in computing the forces exerted. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico: Yes, this is a complication. Either you use adaptive nets and get a very detailed, but slow, calculation, or (for driving a simulation) do it with approximations which will cover most cases well enough. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 15:24

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