Would it be possible to use a F-22's exhaust to intentionally stall a hijacked Boeing 767's turbofan engines in order to force it to land instead of shooting it down?

The idea being that stalling one or both obviously causes thrust from a remaining engine to force pilots to compensate thereby limiting maneuverability or even allowing intentional redirection of the aircraft by the F-22s exhaust using disruption of airflow over control surfaces.

Kind of an out there question but there could be a scenario where this is a better option than eliminating the threat.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ There's a few real problems with this approach. As has been pointed out, "flaming out" a passenger jet's engine with another jet would be extremely unlikely to work. But as importantly, both of your theories--disrupting the engine or disrupting airflow--would require very precise coordination by the hijacking crew. Say you could get the F22 perfectly lined up with the 767's wing or engine, and it was actually going to work... The hijacker is simply going to keep moving the stick. Imagine if I tried to follow you driving in front of you. You'd just turn. $\endgroup$
    – Max R
    Sep 5, 2022 at 7:07

2 Answers 2


No. Jet engines do not stall easily. It's difficult even for a fire crew to shut down an engine. Turbines burn very lean, so jet exhaust has plenty of oxygen in it. It will not stall an engine.

Afterburner exhaust might be an issue due to the heat and might affect engine operation, if the fighter gets very close. Dumping fuel could also be destructive. Either way, disrupting a plane that's flying so close is unreasonably dangerous to both aircraft.

Even if briefly stalled, the engine can be restarted. There's no reliable way to physically force a landing without risking destruction of the target.

That said, it's not necessary. Fighter escort is a well-known way to land uncooperative aircraft.

Threats don't work well on the ground, because the perp can slip away, or can be impaired by emotions or substances. Thus, less-lethal weapons. But there's no hiding in the air. And if you can land a jet, you can comprehend "Land or be shot down".

These threats are not idle. Passenger jets have been shot down, by accident or intent, even before 9/11. Fighter pilots do usually ask for a second confirmation of the shootdown order, but once confirmed, they carry it out. Ethical deliberations aren't their job.

So offending airplanes are forced to land through a threat of deadly force, which works just as well.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Might be worth mentioning that even if the engine flames out through exhaust ingestion starting it up again would be straightforward and might even be automatic depending on engine. Dumping your fuel into the 767 intake might do something, but 'something' ranges from nothing to both aircraft vanishing in a fireball so using weapons if available seems wiser $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2022 at 9:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's an exaggeration to say that passenger jet shootdowns happen "every few years", especially recently. The last incident in that wiki article similar to what this question is about is 2001, and that was a Cessna floatplane with 4 people aboard, shot down by a Peruvian air force Cessna in a miscommunication with the CIA over suspected drug running. All the later incidents were ground-launched SAMs, and the summaries sound like accidental target mis-identification or rogue actors, not like govt. warning the target and then intentional shootdown while being aware of the target's ID. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2023 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Air_Lines_Flight_007 from 1983 might be the last time a passenger jet was intercepted by fighters and then shot down after they weren't happy with its response. (They apparently fired warning shots at the suspected spy plane, but the theory is the KAL pilots probably didn't see them.) I didn't carefully check all the others in the list, but their summary descriptions didn't sound like intercept, warn, destroy. Often like shootdown soon after takeoff in a war zone, or terrorists or rebels or whatever. Or one case in Pakistan of a SAM launch on a lost jet. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2023 at 12:10
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterCordes 1983 was the last shootdown by a fighter. But there were two shootdowns by surface-to-air weapons in 2020. The reality of war is - any military, from Somali to USA, will shoot unless they're sure it's a civilian target, not only if they're sure it's a military one. My point is, a warning from a fighter jet is a real threat, they will fire unless you comply. They put you in a "land or die" situation already. $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    May 28, 2023 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ Your answer says "these threats are not idle", talking about a shootdown of a plane IDed by fighters as civilian markings, but uncooperative. I think that's true, post 9/11 a hijacked plane will be shot down rather than allowed to be used as a kamikaze weapon. And yes, the shootdowns prove that they have the capability to do it. But your phrasing sounded like you were saying this situation (threat and then follow-through) actually happens every few years. Your edit to add "by accident or intent" is a good addition, thanks. I got your meaning originally, just a wording nitpick. :) $\endgroup$ May 28, 2023 at 13:18

Most likely, the answer is no

As pointed out above, jet engines burn quite lean, so there are still is plenty of oxygen in the exhaust gases available for combustion. So much so that during the 1950s – I remember Chuck Yeager talking about this in his autobiography – the Air Force would sometimes start jet fighters by parking another aircraft in front of the one to be started and using the exhaust gases to spin up the starting engine. In modern times with the use of pneumatic huffers (start carts) and APUs, this is not common practice anymore.

Then there is the risk to the jet fighter in attempting to maneuver that close to an airliner, in order to wash out his engines with the fighter’s jet exhaust. This would be a very difficult position to maneuver an airplane into without a high risk of a mid air collision.

There is also the problem that, even if you could cause a flame out in the airliner that way, the engines can be easily restarted by a competent flight crew.

Even if a restart was not possible, once the engines are knocked out, the aircraft is either going to have a forced landing somewhere or crash creating a high risk of serious injury or death for everybody on board. Given this and problems I stated above with a mid air collision risk, it would be much easier for fighter air crew to employ conventional deadly force ie guns or missiles, if it was required to stop this airliner.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .