65 votes
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Would a slower speed and lower altitude reduce fatal incidents?

I'd like to answer this question by debunking the premise of the question: that most plane crashes happen when planes fall out of the sky, and that it's like rock climbing where the higher you are, ...
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  • 6,325
65 votes

MH370 blackbox - is it still possible to retrieve data from it?

There are precedents: the flight recorders of AF447 spent two years at the bottom of the ocean, and revealed all that had happened after being retrieved. So they had survived being immersed in salty ...
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  • 57.8k
61 votes

Would a slower speed and lower altitude reduce fatal incidents?

It would likely create a more deadly situation. In aviation altitude is your friend. Generally speaking altitude in the case of an emergency buys you time to work the problem. Generally you want to ...
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  • 96k
59 votes

Can ATC handle a flight as emergency although the pilots have not declared an emergency?

In the US, a controller has the authority to treat any situation as an emergency, and they do. I have had controllers "declare" an emergency multiple times, even when I thought I did not ...
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57 votes

Why do airlines retire the flight number after a crash?

consider if you Google a flight number you can see the flight status, imagine if the number was from a past crash, you might for a moment think the one you're looking up had crashed
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  • 651
51 votes
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What level of damage to an aircraft is acceptable to let it depart?

Aircraft Maintenance Engineer here. To evaluate if an aircraft is safe to fly we use three main reference documents: 1. MEL (minimum equipment list). This document contains the list of elements ...
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  • 1,142
48 votes
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Are there any real life instances of aircraft aborting a takeoff or landing to avoid a vehicle?

Not only is it possible but it happens. This is formally called a "runway incursion" and it does happen like 2005 Logan Airport runway incursion or the B733 / vehicle, Amsterdam Netherlands, 2010. ...
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  • 96k
47 votes

How could the Helios 522 passengers have survived so long without oxygen?

To add to Daniele's answer, from the final report: The forensic report concluded that the aircraft occupants had heart function during the impact. The report noted that this ...
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  • 31.5k
46 votes
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Could someone really die in the way that Goose did in the movie "Top Gun"?

Some sources I found claiming the event was real: A flat spin creates a low-pressure area and stalls the canopy when ejected. Producers wanted a midair crash but based this accident on a real-life ...
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  • 576
46 votes
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Why would a jet engine that runs at temps excess of 2000°C burn when it crashes?

How The Jet Engine Works: Inside the typical commercial jet engine, the fuel burns in the combustion chamber at up to 2000 degrees Celsius. The temperature at which metals in this part of the engine ...
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  • 8,248
45 votes
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Has any prior accident been caused by a psychologically unstable and/or suicidal crew member?

Confirmed (or Highly Probable) LAM Mozambique Airlines Flight 470: A report from the government of Mozambique states that the captain deliberately crashed an Embraer 190 in Namibia on November 29, ...
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42 votes

Why do airlines retire the flight number after a crash?

Retiring flight numbers after crash is mainly done to prevent the flight evoking negative emotions among future passengers. You don't want the flight number to conjure up images of crash while booking ...
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  • 98.6k
42 votes

Should I hold my breath in case of a decompression?

No. Holding your breath might cause breaking blood vessels in your lung (barotrauma). It is important to equalize the pressure inside your lung with the exterior. That is in fact the most fundamental ...
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  • 10.6k
41 votes

If your plane is out-of-control, why does military training instruct releasing the joystick to neutralize controls?

Many abnormal situations can be at least partly pilot-induced. Most civil airplanes (modern military ones are another topic - but computers add to that... ) are aerodynamically stable. Releasing the ...
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  • 2,495
38 votes

Can a civilian aircraft pilot see a missile coming?

Visual detection To take one example, a vehicle-launched ground to air missile system (e.g. the SA-11) that can reach the cruising altitude of airliners travels at several thousand miles per hour and ...
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37 votes
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How could the Helios 522 passengers have survived so long without oxygen?

Consciousness requires quite a bit more oxygen than merely being alive. Human beings can last remarkably long with very little oxygen, but not remain conscious. And lack of oxygen will soon enough ...
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35 votes
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Novel Research: Best way to sabotage a Hawker Hurricane in 1940/41?

The Achilles heel, a good single-point-of-failure source that will be hard to detect until it's too late, of a plane like a Hurricane would be coolant system. If I was going to sabotage a Hurricane in ...
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  • 104k
34 votes
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Can a mistake of a single air-traffic controller cause a collision between planes?

I haven't seen the Breaking Bad episode, but in my experience any aviation related scenes in films and series are usually stretching reality beyond the breaking point. But it is possible that a ...
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34 votes

Can ATC handle a flight as emergency although the pilots have not declared an emergency?

Yes. For example, in the US (I don't know what procedures are used in Indonesia), controllers are instructed (see 10-1-1): If the words “Mayday” or “Pan-Pan” are not used and you are in ...
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  • 8,248
34 votes

Are more fatalities in commercial aircraft accidents caused by pilot error than by automated features?

"Automation failure" tend to be lumped in with all other "Mechanical failure" in any statistics. Those statistics are fairly easy to find but absolutely back up the claim that ...
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33 votes
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Does the ditching switch allow an A320 to float indefinitely?

The answer is no, not totally, but it would really slow things down. I don't think anybody knows the precise answer because only flat water ditchings seem to result in the airplane stopping in the ...
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  • 104k
31 votes
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On Air France 447, what would have been the lowest altitude to initiate recovery after the stall developed?

For the stalled flight to recover, the nose needs to be pointed in the airstream, and then the aircraft pulled up with load factor below the ultimate load. From the accident report: The recordings ...
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31 votes
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Will dual-learning in a glider make my airplane learning safer?

Yes learn both, but... not at the same time. As Dave says, there are too many differences to be absorbing simultaneously. It's like a new airline pilot taking a type course on a Dash 8 and an RJ at ...
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  • 104k
30 votes
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What is the difference between aviation "accident" and "incident"?

There are indeed only two 'official' classifications of aviation incidents, which are defined in ICAO Annex 13. Accident. An occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes ...
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  • 11.5k
27 votes
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Has a commercial airliner ever crash-landed in an ocean?

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. Here is a list ...
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  • 29.1k
27 votes
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Why don't black boxes send a signal when above water?

The short answer is that when a plane crashes on land we (generally) have a pretty good idea where to look for the black boxes - there will usually be a relatively clearly defined debris field to ...
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  • 67.2k
27 votes

What happens to US military demo teams following unexpected pilot turnover?

I can't answer for the Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, but I can for the UK equivalent, the Red Arrows. The Red Arrows have no spare pilots (or 'B team'). The nine pilots on the team fly every ...
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  • 2,628
26 votes

Can this aircraft wreckage be identified?

A plane should be able to be identified by the serial numbers of the various parts recovered at the crash scene. The history of any part on a plane is documented extensively by the serial number. ...
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  • 5,561
25 votes
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Are grass strips more dangerous than tarmac?

Cloud, you are making a huge inference from a few small data points. But in any case, to the basic question, which is actually a very good one: In terms of the chance of getting killed, (what you ...
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