Real Answers from Real Pilots

Random question

This might be a little random or what may have you but I have been trying to find the answer to my question online but no luck. What happens when an aircraft needs to make an emergency landing while in the middle of the Atlantic ocean or any ocean for that matter.


There are actually very few emergencies that would require you to actually ditch in the ocean (uncontrolled fire or loss of ALL engines are really all that come to mind?). Aside from that todays modern aircraft have multiple redundant systems and even with the loss of one engine of 2 (unless you have more) or complete loss of pressurization you’d be able to make it to land. In the VERY unlikely event you do need to go swimming all aircraft that travel over oceans are equipment with life vests, rafts and survival kits. Fortunately I only fly over the Pacific where the water is generally pretty warm :slight_smile:


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To add to what Adam said, all commercial aircraft that fly over water have to be certified for ETOPS (Extended Operations). This basically means that the aircraft is capable of reaching a suitable alternate airport within a certain set time ,usually 180 minutes, on a single engine. In other words, this means that the routing of the flight will never take the aircraft further than 3 hours from land.