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Comment Re:Well, now we actually know several things (Score 2) 89

THAT is a close to a gentle ditching as you are going to get

Well, no it isn't, actually; US Airways 1549 is. That one took place on smooth water, not the high seas, but there have been numerous other ditchings in moderately higher sea states that were non-catastrophic. It's a crapshoot.

Underwing engines are held in place by shear pins that will break in a ditching and let them be carried away, so if everything goes just right, the wings won't be ripped off and the airplane will have a chance of floating for a while. Flaps, OTOH, would be down for minimum speed and would very likely come off.

Comment Re:Bad news for recovery of the black boxes (Score 4, Interesting) 89

Uh, no autopilot has the ability to land a plane (intact) on water.

Matter of fact, no human pilot does, consistently, at sea. Even the largest seaplanes depend on protected water (harbors, lagoons, rivers etc.) for normal operations, and an open-sea landing is an emergency procedure.

When the USS Indianapolis survivors were found, 70 years ago this week, a PBY landed near them with no hope of taking off; it simply served as an improved lifeboat until surface vessels arrived, and was then sunk.

Comment Re:Three thoughts... (Score 1) 394

Forward-facing seats make more sense during takeoff, as the acceleration from the plane pushes passengers into their seats, but the seats keep them secure. Passengers facing the rear will find it a bit more uncomfortable holding themselves in the seat when basic physics is pushing them out of it.

If you're having a problem holding yourself in the seat, you might try fastening your seat belt properly. You are SAFER in an aft-facing seat, and the military, which cares more about not killing its people than coddling them, mounts passenger seats facing aft for exactly that reason.

Are airplanes engineered to handle the additional weight of 80 more passengers and their luggage?

Yes. In the high-subsonic regime of passenger jets, you run out of space well before you run out of weight-carrying ability.

Where are the calculations that go with a calculated risk?

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