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Emergency Aircraft Ditchings

Incidents of aircraft landing on bodies of water are rare, especially for large passenger liners. However, it has happened and happened successfully.  This page provides links to stories of and information about water landings.  See FAQ #14 for a list of water ditchings that people survived.

An Emergency In the Air by Murray Dixon

This is a first person narrative by an ex-Air Force chaplain describing his experience in preparing for emergency landings first on the water then on land before finally arriving safely at an airport. Murray Dixon is a personal friend of Bert Schlossberg.

Intentional Ditchings of Jet Airliners

This article from The AirSafe Journal, November 28, 1996, and revised September 7, 2001, describes the successful ditching of three passenger airliners.

Airliners Designed to Land in Water

This article by Andrew Adamson, September 3, 1998, from the Discovery Channel Canada web site describes how modern airliners are designed to be able to land on water.

Ditchings: A Case History and Review of the Record

This article by Richard L. Newman was prepared in November 1986 and revised June 12, 1994. It is an extensive discussion of landing aircraft of all types on water. The article begins with the author's own experience in a light airplane. It reviews the history of US aircraft ditchings; analyzes types of aircraft, fatalities, etc.; and discusses safety procedures.

It is clear from all of the above that the emergency landing of aircraft, both large and small, on water is possible and that it can be and has been done without significant loss of life.


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Last modified: March 10, 2009

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