Does the FAA or anyone have a protocol for landing a commercial plane by an untrained person?

October 12, 2008

for example, if they were able to take back control of Flight 93, but no one had any pilot training, would they be able to "talk" someone through landing a jet? would they just have the person put it on autopilot and hope for the best?

thanks

Mbsports was completely wrong. It's harder–not easier–than it looks, and the chances of an untrained person making a successful landing are so slim as to be covered by "forget it!"

You could have 53 expert pilots and trainers on the other end of the radio and there are just too many things to be done in too short a time frame.

Fortunately, it doesn't come up very often. The old movie scenario about both pilots eating the spaghetti and becoming sick and passing out has happened exactly once in the last sixty (60) years in real life.

And the hijackings of September 11 were a fluke and will not happen again. So there is no protocol for these things because they are so unlikely to happen.

Besides, the FAA once did a study and discovered that at least about 3/4 of all airline flights have a current or retired pilot (with experience in the same or similar type airplane) on board. Somebody like me, to take the controls with shaky hands and peer through aged eyes and squeek 'er down, regardless.

But it ain't gonna happen, and, boy! what a relief!

Comments

6 Responses to “Does the FAA or anyone have a protocol for landing a commercial plane by an untrained person?”

  1. mbsports on October 12th, 2008 7:32 am

    No air traffic control would probably tell the person(s) what to do. It is not as hard as you might think to land a plane. Also autopilot will not land for you. In 2003 planes did start coming out with an autoland though which uses the GPS in a plane to land and it can be one of the most precise landings and all the pilot has to do is put in the airport and turn it on. And also when a pilot is on approach he is pretty much talked thru the landing if he is on IFR(which all airlines fly) so when he is about 75 miles out they will tell him what altitude to descend to what heading he should be on and what runway he will be landing and as he gets closer they will tell to descend to a lower altitude until he gets to the airport
    References :

  2. aviophage on October 12th, 2008 7:52 am

    Mbsports was completely wrong. It's harder–not easier–than it looks, and the chances of an untrained person making a successful landing are so slim as to be covered by "forget it!"

    You could have 53 expert pilots and trainers on the other end of the radio and there are just too many things to be done in too short a time frame.

    Fortunately, it doesn't come up very often. The old movie scenario about both pilots eating the spaghetti and becoming sick and passing out has happened exactly once in the last sixty (60) years in real life.

    And the hijackings of September 11 were a fluke and will not happen again. So there is no protocol for these things because they are so unlikely to happen.

    Besides, the FAA once did a study and discovered that at least about 3/4 of all airline flights have a current or retired pilot (with experience in the same or similar type airplane) on board. Somebody like me, to take the controls with shaky hands and peer through aged eyes and squeek 'er down, regardless.

    But it ain't gonna happen, and, boy! what a relief!
    References :
    retired airline captain

  3. fdj1 on October 12th, 2008 8:08 am

    well firstly they would have to ask how many cocktails you may have had while a passenger
    References :

  4. MALIBU CANYON on October 12th, 2008 8:26 am

    mbsports: you've never landed a jet, have you? I just did a night landing in a jet in strong, gusty winds. We even had to deal with some smoke from those raging SoCal fires. Uh, air traffic control did not and could not have "talked us through it". They were comfy in their radar room as we dealt with angry winds during descent over a ridge line and with strong winds on approach. All at night, and a circle was required because of the strong winds and their direction, which included some crosswind. Good luck, non-pilot. There is no "feeze frame" or "hold button". Things happen quickly and it's the real deal.
    References :

  5. Marce X on October 12th, 2008 8:37 am

    mbsports: Buddy, you got it all wrong.

    Autoland features are from the 70s and 80s. The Boeing 757 and 767 already had this option, like many other Airbus and later models. Even retrofitted 737-200s could do it.

    There is no commercial autoland on a GPS approach that I know of, only while flying an ILS.

    Some of the smaller or older commercial planes do not have the autoland capability, but will still fly on autopilot to minimums.

    Assuming a crew incapacitation for any reason, ATC can get somebody familiar with the plane to talk a person into using the autopilot (of course they will choose a long runway without crosswinds and with good weather) and either autoland or fly the autopilot to minimums and then make a probably not pretty -but survivable- landing.
    References :
    Pilot

  6. bowhunter637 on October 12th, 2008 9:05 am

    As for the FFA protocol, I have no idea.

    However, I agree with the people above in saying that landing isn't nearly as easy as it looks.

    Now, if something happened to both of the pilots, I could see a student pilot or other semi-experienced aviator being able to get it on the ground, but as for an everyday person, it's not too likely. Pilots are schooled hours upon hours just learning the principals of maneuvers such as landing, and the odds of somebody just picking it up and having ATC tell them what to do is a little slim when it comes to success.

    Autopilot will not land a plane for you. Really, the autopilot is kind of like a cruise control for pilots. Depending on the settings the pilot inputs, the autopilot will maintain heading, vertical speed, altitude, and airspeed. Simply put, the autopilot is maintaining, or holding, rather than flying for you.
    References :
    Pilot

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