Recently, a Thomson Airways 787 traveling from the Dominican Republic to Manchester, UK was forced to make an emergency landing in the Azores because of a low oil pressure warning on one of its two engines.
That fact, in and of itself isn’t terribly newsworthy. Planes have emergency landings all the time. If you Google “List of Emergency Landings in August 2014” will bring up a partial list along with a link to an airline industry news site that lists dozens, including more plane fires than I would have guessed.
Don’t get me wrong. An engine failure can be dramatic, especially if you’re flying on a plane that only has two. But, the headlines and some of the bullet points caught my attention as a bit salacious.
It’s not that there haven’t been plenty of bumps and bruises with the 787. It’s been grounded amongst a number of issues with batteries overheating, but engines really haven’t been a huge focus.
It’s only a bit misleading to say the engine stopped mid-air. The pilot shut it down, but likely did so because the lack of oil pressure could/would have lead to engine failure and more potential damage.
“Plummeting at 500 ft-a-minute” strikes me as a bit of an irresponsible way to characterize the situation. I’m fine with a passenger saying it, but a newspaper phrasing it that way doesn’t really take into account that most “normal” descents (which are going to vary greatly) are considerably faster than 500 feet a minute.
I’m sure it was a scary ordeal for some of the passengers onboard, especially if they’ve never been part of an emergency landing. I’ve been
lucky unlucky enough to go through a couple myself so I’m probably a bit more prepared than the average bear.
And, I’m glad everyone made it home safely. I just shook my head a bit when I saw the headlines and read the article. I still strongly believe that the 787 Dreamliner is a safe plane. I wouldn’t be booking away from it, I prefer flying it. The comfort of the humidity and lower pressurization make a difference for me when I travel.