Ditched airliners

From:         ctillier@phoenix.princeton.edu (Clemens Emmanuel Tillier)
Organization: Princeton University
Date:         10 Nov 93 00:02:49 PST
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All this talk of ETOPS has me wondering...

The little safety brochure that's found in front of your seat often
includes detailed instructions on what to do if the plane ditches in
water. Several questions come to mind:

- The drawings almost invariably show the plane with doors above the
water. Can an airliner be expected to float? How long?

- Wouldn't the stresses of landing in water break up the plane (I'm
thinking, rip off the engines and maybe the wings?)

- How have these scenarios been analyzed in any serious manner? In
other words, was there ever any testing done, for any given type of
plane?

- Has the situation arisen in commercial operation? Here I don't mean
planes that *crashed* into the water, but planes that made an
emergency splashdown and proceeded to evacuate passengers.

So far the paranoia in this newsgroup about twins ditching in the
Pacific has been based on the assumption that the aircraft and
passengers would be toast, as far as I can tell. I'm basically trying
to find out to what degree this kind of thing is survivable; this is
certainly a factor to consider in criticizing twins.

Thanks,
Clem Tillier
<ctillier@phoenix.princeton.edu>