Unpowered Jet Airliner Landings
All of the following events involve jet airliners that had a controlled landing without the benefit of engine thrust. In other words, these are cases where the airliner become an unpowered glider. In each case, the crew had to cope with some situation that led to a loss of power that affected all engines at about the same time. While the most common cause was fuel exhaustion, other losses of engine thrust were due to ice ingestion and bird ingestion.
- October 1963; Aeroflot Tu124; Leningrad, USSR:
According to a report in Flight International Magazine the aircraft was on a flight from Estonia to Moscow when a landing gear problem led to a diversion to Leningrad.
While holding prior to landing and about 13 miles (20.8 km) from Leningrad airport, the aircraft ran out of fuel.
The crew managed to land the aircraft on the nearby Neva River, where it remained floating on the surface.
The aircraft was towed to shore and all 52 occupants survived.
Plane crashes of airlines of the Former Soviet Union
- 2 May 1970; ALM DC9-33CF; near St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands: The aircraft had departed JFK airport in New York for St. Maarten in the Netherlands Antilles. After three missed approaches, the crew diverted to St. Croix. While en route, the aircraft ran out of fuel and the crew ditched the aircraft. While the flight crew made specific preparations for ditching, the imminent ditching was not communicated to the cabin crew. As a result, several occupants were not belted in at the time of the ditching. The aircraft remained afloat for five to six minutes before sinking in waters about one mile (1600 meters) deep. One of the six crew members and 22 of the 57 passengers were killed. The accident was investigated by the NTSB and the details are available in NTSB report NTSB-AAR-71-8 dated 31 March 1971.
- 4 April 1977; Southern Airways DC9-31; New Hope, GA: The aircraft had both engines lose thrust after ingestion of hail. The crew landed the aircraft on a road but hit a number of trees and a building. Two of the four crew members and 60 of the 81 passengers were killed. Eight others were killed on the ground.
- 28 December 1978; United Air Lines DC8; Portland, OR: The aircraft ran out of fuel while holding for landing and crashed landed.
Of the 184 occupants, two crew members and eight passengers were killed.
United plane crashes
- 23 July 1983; Air Canada 767; near Gimli, Manitoba: The aircraft ran out of fuel after the crew miscalculated the weight of fuel on board.
The aircraft made an emergency landing on an abandoned airfield. There were no serious injuries.
Air Canada plane crashes
- 24 May 1988; TACA 737-300; near New Orleans, LA: The aircraft was approaching the New Orleans airport when it encountered heavy precipitation, including hail up to 1.25 inches (32 mm) in diameter. The aircraft experienced a dual engine flameout at about 16,200ft due to water ingestion, and the flight crew were able to establish emergency electrical power at about of 10,500ft. The crew was unsuccessful in their attempts to restart the engines, and had to execute an emergency landing on a grass strip on a levee on the Intercoastal Waterway (after initially planning to ditch the aircraft on the waterway). The flight crew successfully made an unpowered landing and none of the 45 occupants were injured. The aircraft was repaired and flown off the levee.
- 15 September 1988; Ethiopian Airlines 737-200; Bahar Dar, Ethiopia:
During takeoff, the aircraft ingested numerous pigeons into both engines.
One engine lost thrust almost immediately and the second lost thrust during the emergency return to the airport.
As a result of the crash landing, 31 of the 105 passengers were killed.
Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes
- 3 September 1989; Varig 737-200; near São Jose do Xingu, Brazil:
The aircraft had been on a domestic flight from Marabà to Bélem when the crew made a forced landing due to fuel exhaustion.
The flight crew had inadvertently entered a 27 degree heading into the flight computer rather than the correct heading value of 270 degrees.
By the time the crew had discovered the error, the aircraft was too far away from a suitable landing option.
Twelve of the 48 passengers were killed in the emergency landing.
The six crew members all survived.
The survivors were found about two days later.
Varig plane crashes
- 25 January 1990; Avianca 707-300; Cove Neck, NY:
The aircraft crashed about 20 miles (32 km) from the airport due to fuel exhaustion during its second approach to JFK.
The NTSB determined that the accident happened in part due to the crew's inadequate fuel management and their failure to communicate their fuel status to ATC.
Eight of the nine crew members and 65 of the 149 passengers were killed. There were 11 infants among the passengers, and one of the infants was killed.
Avianca plane crashes
- 27 December 1991; SAS MD81; Stockholm, Sweden:
Shortly after departure on a flight from Stockholm to Copenhagen, both engines lost power due to ice ingestion.
The ice had formed on the upper surfaces of the wings overnight and had not been fully removed by a pre-takeoff de-icing.
During liftoff, clear ice broke off the wings and ingested by the engines, causing damage to the engine fan stages and leading to a loss of power when the aircraft was at about 3000 feet.
The crew was able to make an unpowered landing and although the fuselage was broken in several places, none of the aircraft's occupants were killed.
SAS plane crashes
- 14 May 1996;Allegro Air DC9-14; near Tampico, Mexico:
The airline was inbound to Cancun, Mexico on a charter flight that originated in Orlando, Florida when the aircraft ran out of fuel about 23 nautical miles (42 km) out over the Gulf of Mexico.
The pilot elected to continue the approach and attempt to land at the Tampico Airport.
The airplane was reported to have landed on a road near the airport.
During the landing roll, the nose landing gear collapsed resulting in structural damage to the airframe.
Four passengers sustained minor injuries during the emergency evacuation, while the crew of four and the remaining 36 passengers were not injured.
Significant Allegro Air Safety Events
- 23 November 1996; Ethiopian Airlines 767-200ER; near Moroni, Comoros Islands: The aircraft was on a flight from Ethiopia to Kenya when it was hijacked by at least two people.
While attempting a landing near Moroni in the Comoros Islands the aircraft ran out of fuel and ditched near a beach.
Ten of the 12 crew members and 117 of the 160 passengers were killed. The three hijackers apparently died.
Ethiopian Airlines plane crashes
- 12 July 2000; Hapag-Lloyd A310-300; Vienna, Austria:
The crew encountered problems raising the right main landing gear shortly after takeoff on a nonscheduled flight from Khania, Greece to Hannover, Germany.
The crew decided to continue the flight with the gear not fully raised, but with a diversion to Munich, Germany.
Due to a shortage of fuel, the crew later diverted to Vienna.
Both engines quit operating about 14 miles (22.5 km) from the airport. The crew was able to restart one engine for a short period of time and was able to make it to the airport.
The aircraft sustained substantial damage to the left wing and engine after landing about 500m (0.3 miles) short of the runway.
None of the eight crew members or 142 passengers were seriously injured.
- 24 August 2001; Air Transat A330-200; near the Azores Islands, Portugal:
The aircraft was cruising across the Atlantic at 39,000 feet (11,900 meters) on a scheduled flight from Toronto to Lisbon when the right engine lost power.
The left engine quit about 13 minutes later. Both engines lost power as a result of fuel starvation.
There had been a leak in the fuel system near the right engine, and an open cross feed valve allowed fuel to be lost from both wing tanks.
The leak had been noticed by the crew about an hour prior to the engines shutting down, and the aircraft was already diverting toward Lajes military airfield in the Azores.
After the last engine lost power, the crew was able to glide for 20 minutes for about 115 miles (185 km) to Lajes airfield and avert a mid-ocean ditching.
None of the 13 crew members or 293 passengers were seriously injured.
Although the landing gear was damaged during the high speed landing, the crew was able to stop the aircraft on the runway. All 13 crew members and 291 passengers survived, though some occupants were injured during a emergency evacuation. Transport Canada later fined the airline C$250,000 (about US$165,000) for maintenance infractions relating to an improper installation of a hydraulic pump on an engine of the incident aircraft.
Significant Air Transat Safety Events
Unpowered Jet Ditchings
http://airsafe.com/events/noengine.htm -- Revised: 4 October 2014