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Southwest 1380 Pilots Steered a Well-Timed Descent

The reason for a high dump was straightforward: Without adequate oxygen, everybody aboard a craft could remove consciousness.

Prepared For Landing

Pilots of Southwest Flight 1380 executed an puncture skirmish after losing an engine and cabin pressure. The idea is to fast deplane to an altitude where people can breathe.



Duration humans can duty with unsound oxygen



1-3 min.


3-5 min.


5-10 min.


30 min. or more











Emergency skirmish

duration (min.)

Sources: Courtesy of FlightAware (descent information); SKYbrary Aviation Safety (duration humans can function)

At 35,000 feet, a duration of useful consciousness—the length of time pilots can perform their duties well while deprived of adequate oxygen—is no some-more than 60 seconds. At 30,000 feet, they can hang on for as prolonged as 3 minutes. At 10,000 feet, a atmosphere is breathable.

Masks yield pilots with pressurized oxygen that could final several hours, though passengers accept usually 10 to 20 mins of oxygen with no pressure. At some-more than 30,000 feet, even with a atmosphere flowing, they’re in an puncture situation, so when an airplane’s cabin depressurizes, a idea is to fast deplane to an altitude where people can breathe.

“You can’t do it slower,” pronounced Chris Manno, a former Air Force commander who now flies 737s for American Airlines. “You have to get to a habitable altitude as shortly as possible.”

Although it’s odd for dual aberrant events to occur simultaneously, a

Southwest Airlines

pilots were means to respond coolly to engine disaster and cabin depressurization because, like all blurb pilots in a U.S., they frequently sight for a malfunctions.

“Landing with a singular engine is one of a categorical things we practice,” pronounced Pat Anderson, executive of a Eagle Flight Research Center during Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Emergency descents are also a elemental ability that pilots are lerned to execute.

During a flight, pilots are aided by checklists that yield step-by-step instructions, with some duties achieved by a commander drifting a craft and others by a nonflying pilot.

Because of a review into what befell Southwest 1380, conjunction


nor a airline would yield information about their checklists. But Mr. Manna, Dr. Anderson and James D. Brooks, a former Delta Air Lines operative and comparison researcher during Georgia Tech’s Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, summarized a procedures.

Ordinarily if an engine is lost, they said, pilots would announce a conditions to air-traffic control and be privileged to deplane in what is referred to as driftdown—a peaceful slip compared to an puncture descent—while disengaging a plane’s autothrottles and autopilot, shutting off fuel and other combustibles to a shop-worn engine and adjusting a energy of a flourishing engine.

“You fly during a aloft energy environment than if both engines are running,” Dr. Anderson said, “but a craft is controllable.”

The aircraft will yaw, or turn, in a instruction of a unsuccessful engine, that a pilots will scold by adjusting a rudder—a hinged device trustworthy to a straight fin on a tail of an aeroplane that controls side-to-side motion.

According to a National Transportation Safety Board, when Southwest 1380 mislaid a engine, a aeroplane banked left during about 41 degrees.

Although losing an engine is a terrifying prospect, as a reserve measure, a 737 and other blurb jets are designed to fly with usually one engine prolonged adequate to take off or land safely.

“When a compulsory calculations are finished to establish a limit excusable takeoff weight of any blurb aircraft from any runway that is served, it is finished presumption a detriment of one engine,” Mr. Brooks said.

That prevision ensures a craft hurtling down a runway can turn airborne rather than risk skidding off a cement or writing trees. In some ways, losing an engine while adult and divided is reduction thespian than losing one on takeoff.

“There aren’t evident things we can hit,” Dr. Anderson said.

But in a box of Southwest 1380, a square of a mislaid engine pennyless a window, removal a cabin of a pressurized atmosphere and causing a genocide of one passenger.

Cabin depressurization has a possess checklist, that includes donning oxygen masks, announcing a puncture skirmish to a passengers, advising air-traffic control and forward to 10,000 feet before move to a nearest excusable airport.

As pilots govern a procedure, it’s probable they might not know what led to a depressurization.

“A damaged window is not going to perceptible in cockpit,” Dr. Anderson said.

But a procession is a same no matter what, and in a box of Southwest 1380, a pilots appear to have been entirely in control of a pell-mell situation.

“By all reports,” Mr. Brooks said, “it was a by-the-number moody organisation response.”

Write to Jo Craven McGinty during Jo.McGinty@wsj.com

Article source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/southwest-1380-pilots-steered-a-well-timed-descent-1524834000