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A deadstick landing, also called a dead-stick landing, is a type of forced landing when an aircraft loses all of its propulsive power and is forced to land. The "stick" does not refer to the flight controls, which in most aircraft are either fully or partially functional without engine power, but to the traditional wooden propeller, which without power would just be a "dead stick".
All fixed-wing aircraft have some capability to glide with no engine power; that is, they do not sink straight down like a stone, but rather continue to glide horizontally while descending. For example, with a glide ratio of 15:1, a Boeing 747-200 can glide for 150 kilometres (93 mi) from a cruising altitude of 10,000 metres (33,000 ft). After a loss of power, the pilot’s goal is to fly the descending aircraft to the most suitable landing spot within gliding distance, and then land with the least amount of damage possible. The area open for potential landing sites depends on the original altitude, local terrain, the engine-out gliding capabilities of the aircraft, original airspeed and winds at various altitudes.
The success of the deadstick landing largely depends on the availability of suitable landing areas. A competent pilot gliding a relatively light, slow plane to a flat field or runway should result in an otherwise normal landing. A heavier, faster aircraft or a plane gliding into mountains and/or trees could result in substantial damage.
When a pilot makes an emergency landing of an aircraft that has some or all of its propulsive power still available, it is known as a precautionary landing. An example of such a landing occurred on April 29, 2007, at Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom, when a bird got sucked into the right engine of a Thomsonfly Boeing 757 just as it rotated off the runway.
Deadstick landings of passenger aircraft
There have been several well-known instances of large jet airliners successfully executing a deadstick landing.
- The "Gimli Glider", 23 July 1983: An Air Canada Boeing 767 ran out of fuel en route from Montreal to Edmonton. The plane had insufficient glide range to complete a diversion to Winnipeg, but the crew managed to make a successful dead stick landing at a former airfield at Gimli, where a car rally was underway on the runway.
- TACA Flight 110, 24 May 1988: A Boeing 737-300 traveling from Belize City, Belize to New Orleans, Louisiana, United States that lost power in both engines, but made a successful unpowered landing on a grass levee at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in the Michoud area of eastern New Orleans.
- Hapag-Lloyd Flight 3378, 12 July 2000: An Airbus A310 en route from Greece to Germany experienced a landing gear problem and subsequent fuel depletion, resulting in a deadstick landing in Vienna.
- Air Transat Flight 236, 24 August 2001: An Air Transat Airbus A330 ran out of fuel while flying across the North Atlantic, from Toronto to Lisbon. The crew glided the aircraft over 100 miles (160 km) and made a deadstick landing at a military air base in the Azores.
- US Airways Flight 1549, 15 January 2009: An A320 Airbus en route from New York City's LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte, North Carolina that lost both engines when it struck a flock of Canada Geese on take-off and successfully ditched in the Hudson River adjacent to Manhattan with no loss of life.
- Emergency landing
- Hard landing
- Space Shuttle
- Gliding (flight)
- List of airline flights that required gliding