Pilots are confident about engines. Why are they, and why should you be?
- First, the plane will fly find on just one.
Although it is easy to worry about failure of an engine, the plane, there are several things that argue that this is not a good place to place your worry.
- Second, engine failure is rare.
Before we flew the twin-engined 767 across the Atlantic (we had been flying 747s with four engines), we flew them within the U.S. for 2,000,000 hours without any
engine problem. If you go to the grocery store and look at the light bulbs for sale, a lot of them say the average life is 850 hours. So if you never see two light bulbs burn out at the same time, the idea of two engines failing (minimum expected time without a failure of 2,000,000 hours) it gets a little hard to justify being worried.
- Third, the plane can glide – not fall – if such an outlandish thing should occur.
- Fourth, self preservation.
The mechanics know they when they fly – or put their family – for free on the airline, it is going to be on a plane they have worked on.
- Fifth, licensing.
Mechanics are licensed, and can lose their livelihood if they do improper work.
- Sixth, supervision.
A supervisor must also sign off on their work.
- Seventh, licensing, again.
Supervisors are licensed, and can lost their license if they write off work as done which is not done, and done right.
- Eighth, internal inspection.
The engines are checked internally with a periscope-like device for problems.
- Ninth, performance tracking.
The engines are constantly tracked by a computer which notes any deviation in performance from the expected. This spots problems early before they can lead to trouble.
- Tenth, testing prior to takeoff.
Instruments in the cockpit check the engines prior to takeoff.
That’s ten reasons why we feel confident about the engines and in the work that the mechanics do on them.
I wouldn’t have that much confidence in the mechanic who works on your car. But I do have confidence in the mechanic who works on mine; my car mechanic is a private pilot.