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First Officer Jostein Sørli
First Officer Jostein Sørli

Aviation

Ask the pilot: Can a plane fly on only one engine?

What is the true speed of an airplane? Which airport approaches are the most spectacular? The best people to answer your questions about the wonders of aviation are SAS pilots.

About Jostein Sørli                          

Age: 34
Career: Alongside his pilot training, Sørli worked as ground staff in Tromsø. He then flew Boeing 737s for another airline before joining SAS three years ago.
Home base: OSL
Flies: Boeing 737
Flight hours: 3,500

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Hi,

Can a plane fly on only one engine? Is that enough to keep it airborne? 

Jenni

Hi Jenni,

All two-engine aircraft are built and certified by certain safety standards. These demand that even if the aircraft were to lose an engine at the worst thinkable moment, it could still climb safely to a safe altitude, giving us time to set up for a safe landing at the nearest, most appropriate airport. 

For us pilots, the worst time to lose an engine would be just before we take off. This is because most likely it’s too late to slam on the brakes and stop the aircraft, so we have to take the problem with us into the air. Twice a year pilots have to train in a simulator on all kinds of malfunctions, and losing an engine just before takeoff is something we train for quite often. It sounds extreme and violent, but in reality the atmosphere in the cockpit is usually nice and calm, because we have tried it over and over again, and know that the aircraft flies perfectly well on only one engine. 

First Officer Jostein Sørli

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Last edited: September 4, 2017

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