CAN ONE WING BE BETTER THAN TWO?

The Air Up There In The Clouds Is Very Pure And Fine, Bracing And Delicious. And Why Shouldn’t It Be? —it Is The Same The Angels Breathe. …..Mark Twain,

It is said that, two heads are better than one.

But is it?

A friend was complaining about how a recent flight to Abuja from Lagos was made with a plane that had only one engine running. Right from taxiing / takeoff point.

Hear him:

I recently took a local flight on Dana-Air. The pilot flew on only one engine – maybe to save on fuel consumption or maybe one engine was faulty. I wouldn’t know.This looks abnormal.

Is a commercial plane with multiple engines allowed to run on one engine, when there is no emergency?

I think relevant agencies need to do their job more thoroughly and impose steep sanctions on airlines found to be putting their passengers life in Jeopardy. Life is not a Jeopardy Game!.

The reactions came in fast and swift:

Flying on one engine is only permitted under an emergency. Last week something similar to this happened on the Owerri – Lagos route and also the crew locker containing a gas canister did not lock all through the flight.

There was an onboard flight engineer carrying out maintenance during the flight . Our airlines need more stringent enforcement of regulation, no doubt.I hope the relevant authorities are not shirking their responsibilities?

Another said:

Can someone say this is about bad government or leadership, as Nigerians love to heave every blame on government for everything.

Well, if this is truly illegal or breaking flight regulations, would the pilot take this risk? So, this may be linked to impunity… the knowledge that this infraction (if indeed, it is) can be circumvented, easily, and thus, attributable to weak legislative enforcement.

plane engine

Another said,

You will recall that the last Dana mishap occurred during an aviation fuel crisis. I learnt that the fuel fed into the plane was barely enough to land in Lagos. Unfortunately, a private jet of one of the dignitaries was to take off thus prevented landing of the ill-fated Dana. Aircraft. So, it exhausted its fuel while roaming about, waiting, and, boom, CRASH!

Someone had a somewhat contrarian take on this, and said:

Isn’t it said that “half bread is better than (n)one”? Logically, we can deduce that one engine ON is better than two RUNNING!

Just kidding ooo.

Seriously, commercial buses also do similar… making the loaded bus roll down a slope with engine off (during fuel scarcity) to conserve fuel, and thus rendering the brakes ineffective because the servo (and brakes) do not work (well) with the engine off!

From what I have read on this subject, it would appear there is no big deal in this. Modern planes are designed to be eminently capable of operating on one engine. Even if that single engine fails, the second can be switched on in a jiffy, midair. Besides, the Abuja flight is a trivial / short flight which a single engine would really handle.

Someone also dissented regarding those criticizing the one engined flight, thus:

I am aware that at take off and landing, all aircraft engines are turned on to provide adequate power for those critical moments.

However when the plane is at cruising level, some engines might be turned off without necessarily jeopardizing passengers safety. What you noticed might have been at the cruising level. You may wish to confirm.

This was immediately countered with:

When a plane is using one engine while on the ground, taxiing, no problems. When it is flying, it is in the air. The safety issues are different in both scenario. I don’t need a pilot to tell me that using one engine deliberately is foolish when I am on a multi engine aircraft. If one of the engine has problems, why risk peoples’ lives and not t attempt takeoff to start with?

plane engine

Taking cognizance of the fact that modern aircrafts are built with lots of redundancies for enhanced safety., someone else finally posited thus:

Humans live successfully on one GOOD kidney. Nature itself has redundancy built in. You NEED a doctor to tell you that you can live normally with one kidney.

Similarly, our concern about a plane deliberately flying with one engine MAY be totally unfounded because they (presumably) have the second engine there to take over should the first fail.

I think we can safely assume that the turning off of one engine is deliberate, and not due to a bad engine (planes have to pass a checklist of tests before being cleared for takeoff)

It would appear precipitate to cast blames without first confirming with a pilot or people in the aviation regulatory sector !

It would certainly be good to know if the concerns expressed are valid, from a regulatory and professional point of view.

Should one refuse to board a plane running on one engine? Is it permissible by aviation standards and international best practices?.

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