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Skyviper

Can a passenger land a plane?

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Okay so I often wondered if stuff went south on a flight. Can a passenger land the plane? One a big plane like hopefully there's a pilot qualified for the job if such a bizarre event occurred. I did come a cross an article once where there was a B-2 pilot on board such a flight where the pilot had heart attack and the co-pilot while inexperienced sought some help. Flight attendants were quietly asking if someone were a pilot. Which is how the B2 Pilot wound up in the cockpit. In the interview he mentioned that she was more familiar with the aircraft and after a women it was determined that she knew more than she thought and was able to land the aircraft. 

As much as I love playing various flight sims that range from DCS to MFSX I know full well there's a big freaking difference from a simulation and the real deal. Personally I've been in a few small aircraft IRL, a Cessna 375 twice, a Bell 206 once, DC-10, and a hot air balloon that was tethered, I did sit the cockpit of a C-5 though. Anyway that's limited flight experience. (the reason why my love of aviation is the way it is) Sorry for getting side tracked. The point is while I'm familiar with the basics of how things should work I often wondered how things would actually work out if such a nightmare were to occur. Then I saw this video which kind of answered the question. I say kind of because there are other variables I'm wanting to know about. If you haven't seen it already take a look. It's a pilot instructing someone, in a simulated environment, on how land the aircraft using the autopilot feature onboard the aircraft.

I look forward to knowing your thoughts.

 

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Interesting that if you could talk to someone who could keep their cool they could potentially land it without having to actually fly it.

 

Ted Striker never had an autopilot system like that!

 

 

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Depends on the plane.

An An-2 Anna or Fi-156 Storch can land everyone. Fly low and slow and take away the gas and the plane lands itself.

But other planes? I doubt.

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I think there's a mythbusters episode where they did this. Someone may have posted it but my work blocks links to youtube so I don't know :rolleyes:

They put the guys in the simulator and had one try to land with no help, and then one land with help from ATC and airline pilot over the radio, Airplane! style. Not exactly rigorous scientific testing and control, but it did show that the person with help over the radio stood a MUCH better chance of getting the plane on the ground safely.

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Hahaha, that guy in Seattle a few weeks back did a miraculous job of controlling a twin-engine commuter plane through all kinds of 'flight envelopes', then he kissed the earth, big time!

I think 'auto-pilot programming' would be far too much for most people to handle correctly, in such a short period of time.

Best bet would be to try to 'hand-fly' the plane down to a low-speed controlled impact with the ground, and hope that some people make it out.

 

I went about 2/3 through a private pilot course, years ago. I'll always remember my flight instructors words, "if your not actively flying, your dying"! 

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In my opinion, autopilot is not difficult to fly at all. Altitude, heading, speed, and wings level are all set then initiate and the airplane will fly that input. Programming the FMC really isn't that hard and someone could easily walk a person through that and keep in mind the FMC is programmed prior to departure so it should still be up and running so it has all the critical data it needs and at that point the FMC needs very little to make changes, fly arrivals, change destinations, and so on. So if the airplane is airworthy and functioning as it should getting them to an ILS with glide slope shouldn't be that difficult. Getting the plane down then is really just setting the aircraft up to fly an arrival (speed, flaps, heading, and altitude) and letting the plane do most of the work including auto braking and auto reverse thrust (once armed or set). Now if they're asking a desk pilot to fly manually and expect a good outcome I think that is incredibly hard. The desk pilot is better off telling the cabin passengers to be excited that they'll be on the news tonight, then do the best they can with help to get it on the ground in any condition that most or all can walk away from. Most desk pilots I've run into have an impossible time flying a heading and keeping altitude manually let alone landing a commercial aircraft. Remember you don't pay pilots to be there when things are great you pay them the big money for when things go wrong, i.e. Sully landing in the Hudson.

 

 

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Some planes have auto landing function.

The MiG-23ML had had such a feature.  So it depends on the ground equipment, wheter such a system can do the job or not.

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