111 votes
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Why don't commercial aircraft adopt a slightly more seaplane-like design to allow safer ditching in case of emergency?

Because ditching is extremely, extremely rare, so the costs of redesigning aircraft along with the extra drag and weight (increased fuel burn) it would no doubt add to the airframe far outweighs the ...
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58 votes
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Why choose to ditch in the sea over bailing out?

Bailing out the cockpit during that era was neither an easy nor always a successful task. The pilot had to either roll the plane, open the canopy, and release themselves to the void, or if rolling ...
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49 votes
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Is it recommended to get a life raft for short overwater operations?

I used to be a bush pilot flying Cessna 180s on floats. If you ditch in a 172 on wheels with a life raft in the back seat, it's going to flip inverted when it contacts the water and start to sink ...
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  • 103k
47 votes
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Why shouldn't you inflate your life vest until you're outside the airplane?

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was the flight that resulted in this addition to the safety briefing. After being hijacked, the plane eventually crash-landed in the ocean. Many passengers died because ...
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43 votes
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Why can't you ditch your aircraft in the sea?

The writer was dramatizing things a bit maybe, it's possible to ditch a jet fighter and survive, however your chances are much better ejecting. Ditching is an option for any aircraft, with some ...
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  • 49.1k
35 votes
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How, exactly, did US1549 land on the Hudson?

The NTSB report is a great resource when looking for information about an incident like this. There is an Engine Dual Failure Checklist discussed starting in section 1.17.1.2 of the report. This ...
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  • 69.7k
34 votes

Why choose to ditch in the sea over bailing out?

In case of Spitfire, ditching in sea is not safer than bailing out. Spitfire XIV & XIX pilot's notes specifically states: 71 Ditching (i) Whenever possible, the aircraft should be abandoned by ...
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  • 98.3k
33 votes

Why did this Cirrus deploy the parachute while ditching over Pacific Ocean?

Once your engine fails the airplane is the property of the insurance company, your only goal at that point should be to survive. Using a whole-airframe chute increases your chances of survival whether ...
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  • 49.1k
33 votes
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Why did this Cirrus deploy the parachute while ditching over Pacific Ocean?

First, according to one operating handbook for the Cirrus SR-22 (there are several versions out there), pulling the chute is the correct ditching procedure (CAPS is the parachute system): Ditching ...
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  • 70.2k
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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  • 103k
32 votes

Why don't commercial aircraft adopt a slightly more seaplane-like design to allow safer ditching in case of emergency?

On top of the previous good answers, I would like to add that the aerospace industry does take ditching seriously. 14CFR Part 25 and regulations from other agencies require that transport category ...
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  • 10.8k
30 votes

What are the risks in landing on a beach vs. shallow waters?

Having done my primary training essentially over beaches I'm pretty well-versed in the theory (but thankfully not the practice) of landing on beaches. Given the possible choices offered at your ...
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  • 67.2k
28 votes

Why shouldn't you inflate your life vest until you're outside the airplane?

In addition to the risk of being trapped mentioned by Danny Beckett, the overwing exits are small. If you inflate your vest before exiting, you'll have a harder time getting out, and you're more ...
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  • 4,684
28 votes

Why choose to ditch in the sea over bailing out?

Airplanes tend to float after ditching due to the air trapped in fuel tanks, wings and fuselage spaces, acting as a life raft which is very valuable. A ditched plane is also much more visible than a ...
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  • 49.1k
28 votes

Why would landing the space shuttle on water have been unsurvivable?

The shuttle lands at 220 mph and would break up. This is 40% faster than airliners with twice the energy to dissipate and the shuttle structure is a great deal lighter. The orbiters were designed to ...
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  • 15.9k
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 did the US Airways Flight 1549 passengers stay on the wings?

Because they were told to evacuate there, if you take a look at the official audio transcript from the accident: place both arms through the straps and hug it to your chest. flight attendants ...
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  • 95.9k
25 votes
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Are tail strike landings preferable for an emergency landing on water?

While there probably is an "ideal" attitude to impact water, and it would be nice to crash-land with exactly the correct attitude... it's very much a secondary consideration. By far the most ...
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  • 10.3k
23 votes
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Why would landing the space shuttle on water have been unsurvivable?

The wiki line provides no citation nor any elaboration but is largely correct. It was found that the orbiter actually had a favorable shape to ditch, The Langley report does state that the Orbiter ...
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  • 95.9k
20 votes

Why can't you ditch your aircraft in the sea?

First, I'm taking this to be about fighter jet aircraft and similar. Airliners, general aviation jet aircraft, and others, are different, and there have been plenty of examples of jet aircraft ...
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  • 6,908
20 votes

In an emergency near a remote island is it better to land resulting in the airport closing or ditch in the water?

In general, it's a bad decision to ditch if there's an alternative, even a gear-up landing (Sully ditched in the Hudson because the alternatives were much worse: virtually certain total loss on board, ...
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  • 14.3k
20 votes
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Could a landing gear jettison mechanism be practical when ditching?

According to at least one source (based on NTSB data) there were 179 registered ditchings of GA aircraft over a period of 8 years, or an average of approx 22 per year. The trend however were going ...
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  • 3,603
19 votes

Why choose to ditch in the sea over bailing out?

For baling out, height is the main criteria. If at a low height above the water there is a chance you will strike the water without the parachute being fully open, depending on the trajectory of the ...
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19 votes
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What could cause both engines on a 737-200 to fail at nearly the same time?

Generally, without knowing the details of this accident, dual engine failures are typically caused by one of the following: fuel events exhaustion starvation (e.g. due to iced fuel filters) ...
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  • 74.2k
18 votes
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Can a commercial airliner sink to the bottom of the ocean?

Can a large modern jet airliner plunge intact underwater from flight? No. Large airliners are not desgned for this and are not even strong enough to make a landing on water in less than perfect ...
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18 votes

Does the ditching switch allow an A320 to float indefinitely?

In theory, yes. In practice, no. FAA regulations (specifically, 14 CFR 25.801(d)) require that, under reasonable water-landing conditions, an airplane must remain afloat long enough for the ...
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  • 4,684
17 votes

Why can't you ditch your aircraft in the sea?

As a hang-glider pilot, I can say that's exactly how a good hang-glider landing goes. We don't land with speed and run it off (at least if we've done it properly anyway). Instead we fly our approach ...
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  • 2,274
16 votes

Has a commercial airliner ever crash-landed in an ocean?

Yes - it happened in 2009 in the Hudson (well it's a river), and it happened in 1996 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 as far as I know.
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16 votes

Why did the US Airways Flight 1549 passengers stay on the wings?

Per the accident report from the NTSB, only the four exit slides (two at the forward doors and two at the aft doors) could be used as rafts, as the aircraft was configured for extended overwater ...
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  • 69.7k
15 votes

Why are the 737's rear doors unusable in a water landing?

The bottom of the door opening sits too close to, or below, the water line when the airplane is floating.
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  • 103k

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