MH370's 777 disappeared into the Indian Ocean, the investigation positing a possibility of a pilot self-hijacking the plane and flying until resource exhaustion, then gliding into a "controlled" ocean crash; perhaps why so few pieces of wreckage have ever been found.

Theoretically, if a pilot in this scenario had wanted to be picked up safely (intact), would it be technically feasible, e.g., would a pilot be able to safely exit an airliner like this alone in the water by him/herself, etc.?

Note: I'm not suggesting this occurred, nor do I think such. Merely wondering if this would be mechanically/operationally possible, as I've imagined this understandably being an involved and time sensitive process that was perhaps never designed to be done by one person alone.

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    $\begingroup$ See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… for more examples of "ditching" (=controlled water crash). $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Sep 27, 2021 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ I think you are confusing safely with successfully. Ditching is inherently unsafe. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Sep 27, 2021 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ Even in ideal conditions, a planned, controlled ditch of a 777 in the Indian Ocean is not likely to be successful. The chance of hitting a wave, or just impacting the water at the less-than-perfect angle and having the entire plane break up catastrophically is very high. If you're suggesting this was part of a DB Cooper-style plan to survive the ditching and sail away like James Bond, then it was a very stupid plan. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Sep 27, 2021 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ "the investigation positing a possibility of a pilot self-hijacking" it would be good to remove this statement or to link to the paragraph which proves it, to me it's inexact. The report didn't find any mental health problem for the crew members. The only substantial findings are the ALERFA failure and the known part of the flight path couldn't be flown by the autopilot alone, but the flight path diversion reason is unknown. Source. I rarely downvote questions, but I do for this one. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Sep 27, 2021 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps it would be reasonable to ask whether the pilot could exit the aircraft after a successful ditching, without a significant number of passengers also exiting, and deploying life rafts &c. And don't those rafts carry location beacons? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 28, 2021 at 4:46

1 Answer 1


would a pilot be able to safely exit an airliner like this alone in the water by him/herself

Assuming there had been no breakup and the pilot just want to exit the cockpit without ever entering the cabin then yes, the 777 includes an emergency cockpit exit rope (with accompanying exit hatch) as shown in this video:

  • $\begingroup$ Not sure why you need the rope (water is relatively soft at that height) , the bigger point is that the window is openable and can be used for egress. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 27, 2021 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ …getting from the cockpit to the middle of the ocean is where the hard part begins. $\endgroup$
    – Frog
    Sep 27, 2021 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Coldblackice I suspect you'll find any emergency exit on any aircraft must be operable by a single person for somewhat obvious reasons $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Sep 28, 2021 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ Scully investigated aliens, Sully landed on the hudson ;) $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Sep 28, 2021 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Jamiec LOL. I'll leave it, well played. $\endgroup$ Sep 28, 2021 at 15:09

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