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Monday, 1 June 2009

Air France plane goes down in the Atlantic

A tip for travellers: If you are going to take a flight across a large body of water, i.e. to North or America or Austraia / New Zealand, be sure to take a plane with more than 2 engines. Actually given the age of MD-11's, DC-10's, Boeing 727's and Lockheed Tristars, make that a plane with 4 engines, which for all practical purposes means a Boeing 747, Airbus 340 or 380 (we can forget the RJ/Avro).

Here's a French joke: Two Belgians were flying home to Brussels from Rio de Janeiro via Paris (because Sabena went bust and the rail connection to BXL from CDG is fantastic). Shortly after taking off there is a big explosion and the pilot announces that one of the engines has gone and the flight will take 20 minutes longer. Not long afterwards the pilot announces that a second engine has failed and the flight time will be longer still.

Half an hour later the pilot speaks to the passenger again to say that they are now flying on one engine and arrival would be delayed by a couple of hours. When the plane finally lands one Belgian turns to the other and remarks, "Just as well the fourth engine kept going or we'd have been up there all night."

If they were on an Airbus A310, A330, Boeing 757,767 or 777 the joke would have stopped at the first paragraph, and you would have missed the punchline.


Not a sheep said...

I regularly fly 777s across the Atlantic and they are an abomination, no plane crossing an ocean should have less than 4 engines.

Alex said...

How htis is allowed is described here:

I don't really care that an engine or plane type has a 1 in 100,000 hours failure rate. When an engine does fail, I want at least 2 more engines as backup, or an an airport within 60 minutes flying time.

Alex said...

I should add that I consider ETOPS to be the aviation world equivalent of the CDO.

Bing said...

Of course you're letting ignorance guide you. More twin than four engined aircraft cross the Atlantic every day. To date no-ETOPS aircraft has been lost to engine failure.
Of course if you want to base your decision making on fear rather than facts go ahead.

Alex said...

Bing said...
"Of course you're letting ignorance guide you."

Sorry pal, a life time of experience and an engineering degree from the country's top university tells that it is wings and engines that do most of the work keeping a plane in the air. Wing failures are just too bad, but when an engine craps out I want as many backup engines as possible.

"More twin than four engined aircraft cross the Atlantic every day."

More people lose on the lottery than win. Think about it.

"To date no-ETOPS aircraft has been lost to engine failure."

Strange because all those mortgage bonds that blew up last were rated AAA. I also remember Confederation Life, the only AAA insurance company to go bust overnight.

"Of course if you want to base your decision making on fear rather than facts go ahead."

Fear is a very good reason not to stick your head in a tiger's moth, even if he swears he is a vegetarian.

Alex said...


Maybe you should read this too.

Bing said...

Reference the Air Transat flight, it ran out of fuel, if it had had four engines it would have run out of fuel sooner and it's glide angle would have been worse due to the extra drag from the extra engines.

Taking as many back-up engines as possible is an interesting idea, maybe we should all be flying in B-52s. However you're then paying for all the extra overhead involved in maintaining more engines than you actually need.

Having an engineering degree from one of the lesser universities and more hours in the cockpit than the passenger compartment I'm more than happy to fly in a twin, there's less to go wrong.