How to land a Boeing 737 when the pilots are incapacitated


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FIRST, go pee.


I like the now go get a beer from the galley comment at the end.



Some standup comedian was talking about the part of the safety briefing where they say, “in the event of a water landing, your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device”. He said, “listen, in the event of a water landing, my seat cushion is gonna be used as a toilet!”

That pretty much applies here.


On the one hand, it would be a lot simpler to make the plane remotely fly-able so the pilot on the ground could take over. But on the other hand, when (not if) it got hacked, I suspect we’d discover whether a passenger jet can do barrel rolls.


Big question is how does this work with the secure locked door? Or are we assuming the pilots got incapacitated separately and flight crew have the door open? Also I thought that at least a lot of modern planes even have a landing option for the autopilot so this may be moot soon.


Yes, yes they can.


Tex Johnston did a barrel roll in a 707 prototype (twice!) in 1955 in view of thousands of people. There are numerous videos and still pics out there. There’s also footage of a Virgin 747 doing a barrel roll, though it’s been alleged that the video was faked. The 777 has been barrel rolled in a simulator but, AFAIK, not actually IRL.


If the pilots are incapacitated behind a locked door, the FAs will be able to open it with their code. (The Germanwings pilot out of Barcelona was repeatedly overriding the unlock code.)


Oh, cool. So it actively has to be actively overridden to stay locked to the outside that makes sense.



Too late.


The barrel rolls were in the 367-80, which was the smaller and lighter prototype for the 707. It’s probably apocryphal, but I’ve heard the last instructions to the test pilot for the 777’s maiden flight were “No Rolls”.


I wonder about situations like this. If I think about times where I’ve had to do something frightening (rather than just have it happen to me), the thing that’s made me freeze up is social anxiety-- basically, fear of embarrassing myself-- and I assume that actual danger would override this. Like, if I fall off a bike I’ll just do whatever moves I need to protect myself, and get embarrassed later if it looked stupid.

But then, landing a plane is a relatively long process, so I don’t know.

Has this ever actually come up outside of movies?


Also this:

Note to Bill Watterson: I know you hate it when your stuff gets posted online but I bought all your damn books twice over now so I think that makes us square.</small)



After two barrel rolls and one Immelman…


I’ve heard the same thing, from a fairly reliable source: John Cashman, the guy who did it in the simulator, AND flew the maiden test flight. I haven’t heard whether he actually did it IRL. (His son and I are old friends, though I probably haven’t talked to him in the last ten years.)

[Edit: published documentation here.]


Does this involve Bruce Dickenson being a passenger?


Or John Travolta, but he’s considerably less metal.