What is the chances of survival of a water landing in a tricycle single engine aircraft?
A conservative private pilot friend of mine (400hrs?) is pretty objective to flying over water (no gliding distance to land) in a single engine. He might consider in a single engine retractable landing gear, but out of the question for no retracts in a single. We were even street legal with life preservers over Lake Michigan in an PA-28R a few months back.
I know the risks go up with each step, but seriously, should this prevent a holiday excursions to the Bahamas or elsewhere?
May be more to it then just flying over water. Pilot may be recognizing his own flying limits, outstanding in my eyes.
I have not flown over that kind of distance over water but with no options for emergency outside ditching doesn’t sound like very much fun to me and I am approaching 1000 hours of single engine. Largest body of water I flew over was Lake Pontchartrain on an approach into KNEW and I felt slightly squeamish knowing when I was in the middle I wasn’t within glide path of land.
I probably would defer flying to the Bahamas to the jet jockeys and reserve myself to the back seat enjoying the view from a porthole of a window.
Ok, I understand everyone’s feedback 100%. Very wise and prudent.
So now even I’m concerned about this - what really are the chances of survival of ditching a tricycle in the water? I don’t mean chances of floating on the water for days without rescue, or even rough water. I mean, if you ditched a tricycle on a calm day in a smooth lake with waist and shoulder straps secure… what will the plane do? Will it flip and kill you instantly or, could you slow it enough and stall it soft and… not impact too hard? Maybe rough landing, lost plane, but have you got a chance to get out and keep fighting for life?
I don’t think its the chances of surviving ditching that is the concern, but the chances of an engine failure that could result in a ditching. For taking the a little bit longer way around, you dramatically reduce the chances of wrecking the airplane, and hurting yourself.
As for what the plane will do, there are too many variables. There have been successful ditchings where the aircraft stayed up right, and others where it has flipped inverted and sank. I would say your largest risk is not being able to get out of the aircraft before it sinks, or cartwheeling and receiving trauma type injuries.
Then there is the problem of being stuck in the water for an extended period of time before being found. Hypothermia is still a risk, even in warm waters. Even if the water is 80 degrees, a few hours of exposure will cause hypothermia.
You have to know your own limitations and that, of course, greatly varies with experience. I will fly at night and over water. But if I’m flyin a single engine over alot of water, say to the Bahamas, I’m going to include over water gear - jacket, raft, rations, etc. (which in turn, gives you practice on max loading calculations).
It’s preparing for the worst and hoping you never need it.
i have lost 3 engines in the past 8000 hrs all in multi engine aircraft 2in the appalachian mts (day vfr) 1king air low imc they would have all probably been fatal in a single engine plane so not saying i don’t fly singles but i am very cautious when and where i do.
I can’t think of many singles or airports where you can’t land straight ahead if the engine craps out between Vr and 400’AGL. Most singles including the PC-12 will be above 400’ AGL within the fence at most airports and able to turn around to land. All singles have a relatively low stall speed. Landing ahead or turning back may not be pretty but everyone should be able to walk away, as with any car wreck on city streets.