How Did Flight 236 Survive the Atlantic Ocean with Zero fuel?


On August 24, 2001, Air Transat Flight 236 found itself in a dire situation while flying over the Atlantic Ocean. With both engines failing due to fuel exhaustion, the pilots faced a seemingly impossible task: safely landing the aircraft with no power. Despite the odds, the crew managed to glide the plane to safety, making it one of the most remarkable stories of aviation survival in history.

Flight 236 was en route from Toronto, Canada, to Lisbon, Portugal, when it encountered a fuel leak in one of its engines over the Atlantic Ocean. The crew followed protocol and shut down the affected engine, intending to divert to Lajes Air Base in the Azores for an emergency landing. However, shortly after, the second engine also failed due to fuel depletion, leaving the aircraft without any means of propulsion.

With no engines and rapidly losing altitude, the pilots faced a life-or-death situation. The prospect of ditching in the ocean seemed inevitable, with little hope of survival for the 306 passengers and crew onboard. However, Captain Robert Piché and First Officer Dirk de Jager remained calm under pressure and began assessing their options.

Despite the odds stacked against them, Captain Piché and First Officer de Jager made a crucial decision: to glide the aircraft towards Lajes Air Base, using its remaining altitude and speed to maintain control. Miraculously, they managed to glide Flight 236 for a staggering 19 minutes and cover a distance of approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) without engine power.

As Flight 236 approached Lajes Air Base, the pilots faced another challenge: executing a successful landing without power. With limited control surfaces available, they relied on their training and experience to make a smooth touchdown on the runway. Despite the lack of power-assisted braking, the aircraft came to a stop safely, avoiding catastrophe and ensuring the survival of everyone onboard.

Following the miraculous landing, the crew of Flight 236 was hailed as heroes for their extraordinary feat of airmanship. An investigation revealed that a maintenance error had caused the fuel leak, leading to the near-disaster. However, the focus remained on the skill and professionalism of the pilots, whose actions saved hundreds of lives.

The story of Air Transat Flight 236 serves as a testament to the importance of pilot training, preparation, and quick thinking in the face of adversity. Against all odds, Captain Robert Piché and First Officer Dirk de Jager successfully landed an aircraft with no engines, ensuring the safety of everyone onboard. Their remarkable feat will forever be remembered as one of the greatest examples of aviation survival in history.


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