So I just saw this answer, and there was a ravine at the end of the runway. I have decided to open the throttle again and go for the ravine. I dropped about a 100 ft in to the ravine, but managed to gain altitude again. I have enough fuel for a few hundred miles and all kinds of terrain are near enough.

What should I look for to maximize our chances of survival?

EDIT: With no means of braking, I mean no brakes, no spoilers or thrust reverses. So no way of slowing down except for drag from air or the ground.

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    $\begingroup$ What type of aircraft? Are you interested in terrain types only, or also obvious tips like to avoid cities and find the longest stretch of flat space available? $\endgroup$
    – Sanchises
    Feb 16, 2022 at 10:59
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    $\begingroup$ In its current form your question is a duplicate. It’s already answered: an airport with EMAS. Also some airports, especially military might have nets that could be used depending on the size of your plane. $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Feb 16, 2022 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Antzi: That is possibly the worst solution one can find. An EMAS is used if it is not possible to fulfill the requirements for free space behind a runway, so there is always a dangerous obstacle behind it. An EMAS is also not designed for high speeds, usually around 70 Knots or so. So a runway without EMAS would generally be much better. $\endgroup$
    – Orbit
    Feb 16, 2022 at 14:47
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    $\begingroup$ If your aircraft is heavy enough to start to crush the EMAS, that's a really effective (and safe) solution. Not so much if it's too light. That said, the question is extremely vague & lacking in necessary details - VTC. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Feb 16, 2022 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ At the risk of stating the obvious, an airport with a large runway would seem to be the first thing to look for. $\endgroup$ Feb 16, 2022 at 22:19

2 Answers 2


As per your own suggestion, I'd go for desert, or any other plain terrain if no suitable large airports are availlable. As your question is about a medium size commercial aircraft, there is pretty much no chance of flipping the plane over its nose. If the soil is soft, the landingear will sink into it and either slow the plane down or shear off.

Landing technique would be to make a smooth landing, and if the ground appeared to carry the weight, keeping the nose up for a mildly prolonged time would provide aerodynamic braking.

The danger in off site landings is losing directional stability, skidding sideways,snapping a wing and doing a flame enhanced series of rolls.


If braking is your only problem, you still have a lot of choices. You still have plenty of flying left in your fuel tanks, so use it to find the best option. What you would be looking for is not just a place to put your airplane, but also a place near rescue facilities, because chances are you will need them.

So no desert.

Deploy all the help you can get. ATC is probably more familiar with the local or regional options than you are. You don't want your options to be limited to what you can see.

Ideal would be any extremely long airport runway. Declaring an emergency allows the use of military runways. Just make sure you are talking to them. Anything long enough for a space shuttle, will be long enough for you. Try find an option with little if any side wind. This allows you to minimize you ground speed to begin with.

Don't go for landing on water unless you absolutely have to.
Landing on water is a brilliant idea if and only if the alternative is crashing into an overpopulated city or something equally disastrous. Water may give you a long stretch of flat surface, but it also adds the risk of drowning and/or freezing. Besides that, the only thing that may stop you faster than water is an arresting cable. Be ready for it. A water landing compares to having to knock out a really big angry guy with just one punch. If it works, it works, but if it doesn't, you are so dead.

If no better option is available, land on the same runway without using those things that made you roll of the cliff. A belly landing usually offers braking power sufficient to come to a timely stop and it is quite possible to maintain directional control while landing on the belly on a runway. Runways are designed to support directional stability more than any other surface.

Odds are, belly landing is what you will find yourself doing.


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