They have rafts and life jackets on board and before takeoff, passengers are explained how to use that equipment, but have any evacuations ever happened successfully?
Yes, commercial airplanes have landed or crash landed in water many times.
If I am not mistaken, you are asking about scenarios when the on-board life jackets and life raft are used.
On 22 October 1962, a Northwest Airlines DC-7C with 7 crew and 95 passengers made a successful water landing in Sitka Sound. ... The plane stayed afloat for 24 minutes after coming to rest in the water, giving the occupants ample time to evacuate into life-rafts.
In 1993, China Airlines Flight 605, a Boeing 747–409, ended up in water after it overran runway 13 ... All of the 396 occupants donned life-vests, boarded the eight slide/rafts and no fatalities resulted.
Yes. A Cathay Pacific DC-4 (technically a C-54) was shot down by Chinese fighters off the coast of Hainan island on 23 July 1954. With his rudder and right aileron shot off, fuel tanks on fire, and the #4 engine down, the pilot ditched into the ocean. Of the 19 people on board (including 3 flight crew and 3 cabin crew,) 9 died either from bullets or the ditching into the ocean. The remaining 10 floated in the water for a while and then inflated and boarded one of the rafts. The passengers remained on board the raft for several hours until a USAF SA-16 Albatross flying boat was finally able to find a spot were it could land on the rough seas, then taxied to the raft and pulled everyone on board before taking off and flying to Hong Kong. A passenger who had been badly injured died en route to Hong Kong. The remaining 9 people survived.
Yes there have been several such instances. To name a few, some of which were captured on camera:
- Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961. You can see the actual crash landing video here. 125 of the 175 passengers and crew on board died.
- US Airways flight 1549. The video was caught on a cctv video. All passengers and crew were safe.
- Tuninter Flight 1153. 23 out of 39 survived. No film exists but it was dramatized in a Mayday episode here.
There have been many other evacuations, some successful and some not so successful. You can get a detailed list here.
I'm not sure if this fits in with "commercial airline", but there was also a Cessna 208 "Grand Caravan" that crashed just off the coast of Kalaupapa, Molokai, Hawaii about a year ago on December 11, 2013. It made an emergency landing into the Pacific Ocean after the engine failed just after take off. The aircraft was chartered by Makani Kai Air to deliver passengers from Kalaupapa to Honolulu. One person (a state health department director) was killed in the crash. The crash was also captured on video with a GoPro camera by one of the passengers.
One more for you: an SAS DC-8 crash landed in Santa Monica bay in January of 1969. Most of the crew and passengers survived, using the on-board life rafts. There were some issues as two of the rafts were punctured by debris. The survivors (30 out of 45 aboard) were rescued after about an hour.
The cause was controlled flight into terrain resulting from flight crew failures and a series of issues including an inoperative nose gear light which distracted the crew.
The tail struck first and broke off, sinking immediately. My dad had been a purser for the airline in the late 1940s and I remember him telling me that one of the victims sitting in the crew seats in the tail was an old friend with whom he had flown. My dad was pretty upset to lose a friend this way.
ALM Antillean Airlines Flight 980 was a flight scheduled to fly from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, on 2 May 1970. After several unsuccessful landing attempts, the aircraft's fuel was exhausted and it made a forced water landing (ditching) in the Caribbean Sea 48 km (30 miles) off St. Croix, with 23 fatalities and 40 survivors. The accident is one of a small number of intentional water ditchings of jet airliners
Pan am flight 6 often mistakenly called flight 943 crashed in the Pacific Ocean half way between Honolulu and San Francisco. All 24 passengers and 7 crew members were rescued by the coast guard and survived. The crew members on the pontchartrain are true heroes. My father was on of them. The incident happened October 15th 1956. They lost 2 of their 4 engines around 3:00 a.m. they flew circles to burn off fuel and wait for daylight. They hit the water at 8:15 a.m.. the plane split in half but Coasties were there within minutes.