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Blog: Aircraft Float Posture and Ditching Considerations

After writing Blue water ditching In 2012, I continued my education on aircraft emergency landings by talking to industry experts in our field. There are several ideas that need to be shared.

To remind pilots why, I mentioned that we trained in ditching in the 1940s, 1950s and even 2000s. Because it happened. Today, the risk has come down to near zero due to extensively improved engines, fuel systems, electric grids, pressure systems, fireproof cabins, and so on. Training for detaching has been left on the rear burner and some companies have removed it completely from the stove.

It has never been easy to predict problems in any industry, but a multi-engine plane will never crash … well a draftkings, vegas, or ladbrooks bookmaker probably won’t find adversity. Over the years we have always tried to think ahead for the industry, and there are a few situations that can lead to disaster.

Facing a volcanic ash, for example. The Tonga volcano erupted in January, 650 feet below sea level. The eruption lasted nine minutes and 50 seconds which sent molten rock flying at supersonic speeds, creating sonic booms and ash clouds rising more than 100,000 feet and expanding at 160 nm wide. I remind everyone that the Ring of Fire extends from the South Pacific Ocean, past Japan, across southern Alaska, and to the west coast of North, Central, and South America.

Other problems that can cause engine damage include heavy bird exposure, hail, uncontrolled fires, and fuel leaks. We are pilots, and pilots like to know and train for everything that can happen to us and our flying metal tubes.

So when was the last time you flew in a chair or re-applied the simulator 30 minute excavation scene?

The first and most important strategy I learned and am teaching now is this: If you have ever landed outside the airport or are in a position to dig water, turn it on. ELT. Immediately! This should be (although it is not) the first step in every aircraft manufacturer’s debugging checklist.

Modern aircraft are equipped with 406-Mhz transmitters that talk to satellites. Within minutes of flipping the switch, powerful global search and rescue agencies are looking at you and they can see your location, height, title and speed. Rescue control centers are deciding on their next steps: call local authorities, launch aircraft and Coast Guard ships, or direct marine vessels.

Before you land in the water the search and rescue authorities have the current sea conditions, water temperatures, tidal flow speeds and surface wind direction from the world anchored bays. Even “Where are the naval ships today?” They have access to classified data like this. If you flip the switch, you don’t have to relay the same information three times over the aircraft overhead, which wastes valuable time.

Second, the biggest help discovered so far for sea crossing crews is an application — Ergo Blue — that has been on the drawing board and tested over the years. Today, it works perfectly and every pilot should have an iPad 7 Pilots can enter their coast-out and coast-in points and Ergo Blue will show all ships running on the water on their route in real-time.

If you are on the Atlantic route, crossing the Gulf of Mexico, on your way to Australia, or transiting the Arctic Ocean on your way to Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan, think about safety, knowing that you can find and sink near a ship. To quote Jim Stable, CEO Ergo developer of aeronautical data systems, “[The app] The ditching envelope expands significantly … Ergo helps you alight at night, with lower ceilings and visibility, and takes you as close to the ship as possible to reduce rescue time. “

Hopefully, soon, the map displayed on our flight deck panel will be able to show a new overlay: “Maritime”. (Are you listening to Garmin, Universal, Honeywell, Dinon, Collins, Thales, etc.?) Here’s something you may not know; Ships crossing the sea have transponders just like airplanes, where ergo gets its information. To see what it looks like, go to and click on the live map

Third, while working on my last presentation, I compiled a picture of a ground plane lying on the water. They prove that an alloy can survive and unleash a new line of thought about the ebb and flow and how it relates.

I simplify the tide as a battle of floats vs. weights. Floats occur because the fuel tanks contain some air and they try to hold the aircraft above the water. Trying to pull the weight down the plane. The fight to see who wins.

When I was thinking about the pictures, I focused on what was happening Weight is usually won, but not immediately. And as soon as it wins, its metal tube has great leverage. That leverage can be our enemy. Aircraft with forward-mounted engines (Piper, Cessna, King Air) almost always hold the nose and are pulled straight down the surface in a downward position. Float weight loss.

So what is the posture of the aircraft including the underwing engine (Boeing, Airbus)? I find two great examples. The first is a Boeing 707 on Lake Victoria in Africa, which has been floating for days, to the right, and never tilted in any direction. The weight never exceeded the float — the wing tanks were empty, so it had a positive surge.

The second example is Us Airways Flight 1549, Airbus on the Hudson River. Initially, that plane was also floating to the right. The tanks had minimal turbulence as there was plenty of fuel and little air. Eventually, the jet filled with water sank — the fuselage was filled by an accidentally opened rear door — and the weight of the structure exceeded the float, an example of a negative surge. There is little leverage in the fuselage of the underwear mounted engine. They are pulling straight down on the wings.

This brings me to my main topic and important question. Those in the commercial jet industry mainly fly rear-mounted, two- or three-engine aircraft. How will they float? I found zero pictures here.

During my last three types of rating training events, the eviction training was focused on escaping through the overwing window exit. The last five years have seen two types of ratings – Embraer Phenom 300 and Cessna Citation Latitude. There is a water dam along the floor in front of the main entrance door of these two jets. If you are on the water, the embankment is raised before the main entrance door opens.

It seems ridiculous to think that this eight-inch dam prevents any water from entering the cabin. But why? Well, think about the battle of fun versus weight. The heaviest part of the aircraft is the engine, and the rear engine and system means the heavier edge of the tail. Maybe the engineers have determined the need for a water dam in a floating position because the exit of the overhanging window may not be usable? Aircraft manufacturers need to explain this, and I suggest that they have অত therefore water dams.

The next time you are on the ramp with your plane, stand 30 feet away from the tip of the wing and ask yourself how this machine will float? Use your knowledge of the center-of-gravity concept when you analyze weight distribution. It’s eye-opening.

In conclusion, I came up with a sticky topic in radio operations. There is a limit to the frequency spectrum. In VHF Range, multiple companies own parts of the spectrum and aviation owns 118.0 to 136.97. The Federal Communications Commission says the parts will never overlap.

In New York on September 11, 2001, the Fire Department failed to speak to police, and vice versa. So I asked FCC And FAA Why can’t your agencies work together and allow maritime bands to tune aviation radios to international emergency frequencies (156.8)? If a crew encounters a ditch, a pilot can press the emergency / marine button on the control head and broadcast on the frequency to call a ship med before landing. It takes miles to stop a ship moving at a speed of only 10 knots and it counts every minute.

Maybe that button could send in 121.5 and 156.8? Then even after you land, you can still talk to the ship. There are great reasons why this happens. Let’s think outside the box now, without worrying about it when needed.

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