This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Quora.com is a question-and-answer site where content is written and edited by its community of users. Occasionally we syndicate content from the site if we think it will interest TPG readers. This article originally appeared on Quora.com in response to the question, How Many Engines Can a Boeing 747 Fly On?, and was written by Tom Farrier, a retired US Air Force rescue helicopter pilot and current aviation safety contractor (UAS).
On June 24, 1982, a Boeing 747 operated by British Airways ran afoul of volcanic ash, resulting in the failure (for a relatively brief but probably eternal-feeling period) of all four engines. One of my favorite aviation quotes comes from this event, made by Captain Eric Moody to the passengers: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress.”
After almost 15 minutes in a controlled gliding descent, the crew coaxed one engine back to life, allowing them to significantly reduce their rate of descent. A few minutes later, a second engine came back on line with partial power, allowing the aircraft to enter a slow climb. Speedbird 9 eventually made a safe emergency landing at Jakarta with three out of four engines running, albeit not smoothly. A few weeks later, a Singapore Airlines Boeing 747 flying through the same airspace also lost three out of four engines for a brief period due to volcanic ash ingestion. Again, successful in-flight restarts resulted in a safe emergency landing.
Consider this: 747s have the ability to dump fuel and reduce their weight to facilitate emergency landings and/or prolonged flight on fewer than all four engines. Crews practice two-engine-out emergencies in simulator training. The engines themselves can take tremendous abuse. The most credible causes of multiple engine failures on a Boeing 747 would be (1) bad fuel (which is why testing is so frequent and rigorous); (2) multiple simultaneous strikes by large birds on multiple engines; or (3) volcanic ash ingestion similar to that experienced by the BA 747. The latter case is the most plausible, which is why the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption in 2010 was treated so seriously by aviation authorities.
Featured Image courtesy of Getty Images.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees