After running out of fuel, plane likely glided a hundred kilometres more, says expert

The Malaysian Insider
March 21, 2014

Yet another speculation – if indeed it turned out that debris spotted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority are that of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – is that the aircraft had run out of fuel and continued to glide before it finally made its descent into the ocean.

An aviation professional, speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, said newer aeroplanes would continue to glide, even after their fuel reserves had been exhausted.

“All the aeroplanes glide.

“They’ll go 10 (kilometres) along for every one down,” said Professor Jason Middleton from the University of New South Wales’ School of Aviation.

This is of course supposing that the whole crew and passengers on the flight had become unconscious due to a mechanical failure which caused low cabin pressure, resulting in the plane turning into a ‘ghost flight’ for several hours.

This happened in 1999 to a jet carrying professional golfer Payne Stewart, which flew for several hours with its passengers and crew unresponsive, before running out of fuel and crashing in South Dakota, US.

In such a scenario, if the flight 370 had run out of fuel somewhere over the Indian Ocean at a cruising altitude of around 10km, it could have glided for 100km without petrol in the tanks or a conscious pilot in the cockpit.

Middleton said its final touch down would depend largely on the weather, but warned that even with the best pilots manning it, the rough Indian Ocean would “guarantee a messy crash into the waves”, the paper reported.

Yesterday, Australia announced spotting two objects on satellite images that could potentially be linked to the missing plane.

It comes as scores of countries engaged in the longest search and rescue operation in modern passenger-airline history.

The previous record was the 10-day search for a Boeing 737-400 operated by Indonesia’s PT Adam Skyconnection Airlines, which went missing off the coast of that country’s Sulawesi island Jan. 1, 2007.

  1. #1 by Justice Ipsofacto on Monday, 24 March 2014 - 1:07 pm

    Glide on? Yes. Weeell it is possible.

    I am no aeronautical engineer. But in my reckoning unpropelled gliding is possible only in the best of situations like for instance there are no sudden strong gust of wind or nasty air turbulence. Any of these pressure change, which is very common, would bump the plane about quite a bit and cause it to flip or worse nosedive or even lose some of its remaining forward momentum. The flipping and nosediving part definitely require human intervention, imho, to counter for otherwise disaster would struck.

    Glide on for another 100km? No way. How heavy is the plane (fully loaded) and fast was it flying and hence how much forward momentum has it got to take so far (not forgetting pressure changes)?

    • #2 by cemerlang on Monday, 24 March 2014 - 9:21 pm

      Can’t you just glide into Vietnam or Thailand or back into Malaysia or just onto South China Sea ? From outside Kota Bahru to outside Perth are two entirely different worlds.

  2. #3 by omeqiu on Monday, 24 March 2014 - 6:01 pm

    How come most of the experts refused to give their names?

    • #4 by cemerlang on Monday, 24 March 2014 - 9:22 pm

      How come most of the experts refused to take into accounts the geographical nature, the wind direction nature, all the different locations if it was due to mechanical faults ?

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