Can A Plane Fly With One Engine?

A twin-engine plane can still fly perfectly fine if one engine fails. Pilots are trained to handle this kind of emergency.

Although this occurrence is extremely rare, advances in technology have made it possible for planes to safely fly after one engine fails. 

Can A Plane Fly With One Engine?

What Do The Pilots Do If An Engine Fails?

If an engine fails during flight, all pilots should be aware of the basic rules of aviation. These rules include; ‘Aviate’, ‘Navigate’ and ‘Communicate’.

Pilots need to make sure they know what each word means and how to use them properly.

For example, ‘Aviate’ refers to ensuring all the crew prioritizes flying the plane first. This means they must make sure the plane is under control.

‘Navigate’ then means the crew must make sure the plane has corrected its navigational path and is going in a safe direction, for example, ensuring it is not headed towards a high mountain.

After that, they must communicate with ATC (Air Traffic Control) and other air traffic services (see also “How Does A Transponder Work?“). There are several severities or levels of engine problems that require slightly different responses from flight crews. 

An engine fire is required to be dealt with immediately while ensuring the aircraft is under control. Flight crews must deploy the fire extinguishers from their memory without the aid of checklists.

The next level of engine failure is when the pilot needs to shut down the failed engine. The pilot will then have to decide whether to keep the engine running or switch to the remaining engine. 

If the engine is switched off, the pilot must ensure the aircraft is still under control. He/she may need to turn on the landing lights and slow down so he/she can glide the plane to a safe landing area.

Once The Engine Has Been Shutdown

When an engine fails, the pilot needs to shut down the engines and extinguish any fires before landing the plane. After doing these things, he or she should check the checklist to see what else needs to be done.

Crew Coordination

All actions that take place after engine failure must be verified by both pilots.

For example, the first pilot completes the fuel checklist by touching the Fuel Control Switch, while the second pilot confirms they’re going to actuate the switch before moving it.

This process should take place at a reasonable rate to prevent the wrong engine from being shut down. If the engine fire continues after following this procedure, then the flight crew may need an emergency landing. 

However, rest assured, there is a very low chance of such an event occurring.

Reasons Why An Engine Might Fail Or Be Shut Down By The Pilots

While a fire may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about engine failure, there are other reasons for this. Some include:

  • Separation from the aircraft
  • Surge 
  • Fuel Starvation or Contamination 
  • Exceeded limitations (engine has become too hot, like an example)
  • Severe Damage 

What To Expect Once The Engine Has Failed And Has Been Shut Off 

There are a few things you can expect once the damaged engine has been shut off. 

The first is an asymmetric thrust. This occurs once the engine has been shut down. The working engine will then increase its thrust to avoid a decrease in speed. 

The aircraft automatically will want to turn away from the engine, which can lead to a loss of control of the aircraft. Pilots will need to manually correct this using the rudder pedals. 

Once the engine has been shut down, the aircraft will be operating at 50% of its power.

This will affect the altitude, so descending to a lower altitude that can be maintained by a single engine will ensure the aircraft can cruise until reaching a place to land. 

There may be some changes to the plane’s inner systems, such as cabin air, and electrics when losing an engine. If this were to happen, the oxygen masks will be dropped for the passengers to make use of them. 

Pilots must also be wary of landing with one engine. They must land with a lower flap configuration, so pilots need to consider which airport to land at.

What Happens If The Engine Fails During Take-Off?

While take-off is the most dangerous time for an engine to fail, pilots are required to undergo extensive training for this situation. 

Every six months, they are tested on their reactions to this situation in a stimulator. If they do not act accordingly, they will not be able to fly again until they act correctly. 

Pilots use a speed named V1 during take-off. If the engine were to fail before the V1 speed, then they must abolish the take-off.

Therefore, if you were on a plane and the engine failed during this time, the pilot would not take off and the issue would be dealt with accordingly. 

How Likely Is It That An Engine Will Fail? 

Fortunately, modern technology enables plane engines to be made to an extremely high standard and failures are very rare. 

Statistics show that one in every million flights will have an engine failure or shut down, meaning some pilots may go through their whole career without experiencing this. 

If failures do occur, these engines have been designed to contain the issue, so it does not spread to the rest of the plane. 

As mentioned earlier, if this rare occasion were to occur, pilots have been trained to deal with these situations appropriately. 

If the extremely rare situation were to occur, where both engines fail, then pilots and crew have the ability to glide the plane safely to landing. 

Final Thoughts 

To conclude, while there are scenarios where an engine could fail, the chances of this happening are very low. 

It is important to remember that if an engine fails, the pilot will know about it immediately, and will know how to react, as will the rest of the crew. 

Advances in technology have made traveling via plane one of the safest modes of transport, so you know you are safe up in the air! 

Jacob Stern
Latest posts by Jacob Stern (see all)