Here’s an article from MSNBC. The headline is “American Eagle jet makes emergency landing.” Sounds very perilous.
But it turns out the landing was due to the pilots discovering a crack in the windshield. The proper term for such a landing would be “precautionary.” But that wouldn’t attract nearly the same attention.
Well, if the pilots, in control of the aircraft feel the control of the aircraft is in jeopardy, then yeah, I could see them landing. Personally, I’d rather not have the pilots distracted by some silly thing as a windshield cracking even further and coming loose into the cockpit later. . . 'cause that would suck.
My initial thought is: “Why the hell didn’t they ‘discover’ it on a friggin’ pre-flight check?” :dubious:
Note the landing was made at night. Depending on where the crack is, even a preflight might miss it. But should you have a failure say at 360 mph @ 36,000 feet, the dynamic pressure would be about ~85 lbs./square foot (note: WAG–correct me Dopers if the numbers are wrong). Besides the cockpit-now-as-a-projectile, try seeing if you can hold your neck stiff with that kind of force. It would be very unnerving, especially if you saw the crack progress during the flight. Give me a front tire that turned 90° from travel before landing; that’s a whole lot less danger.
My point would be that there’s no evidence of any emergency.
I’m sure the pilots did just what they should and the handbook calls for - a cracked windshield is not something you ignore. But as near as I can tell the landing was 100% normal - no fuss, no muss, no emergency.
But the landing was merely precautionary, aimed at avoiding a situation that demanded immediate action (as would have been the case if the windshield had actually failed). There’s no evidence in the article that any immediate action was essential - indeed it’s overwhelmingly likely the flight would have ended safely if the pilots had never noticed the crack.
It seems that an emergency landing is one in which you are following emergency protocols, which a crack in the windshield would require. It’s not necessary to have lost an engine or have holes in the plane. Air travel is extremely safe because something like this is treated as an emergency. Any failure beyond the crack in the windshield could be disaster, so getting the plane on the ground ASAP means you call an emergency.
It sounds like you are quibbling over the use of the word “emergency” in air safety when it has a clear definition in that context. It may be different then the use of that word in common speech, but there are hundreds of examples of that. Would you complain that the scientific definition of “theory” doesn’t match the common usage?
FWIW, I ran this by a couple of airline pilots, who both agreed that it’s much more accurate to call this a precautionary landing than an emergency. On the planes they have flown, a case like this allows the pilot to use discretion, for example by seeking an airfield that has maintenance capabilities. One said "There’s a hell of a difference between ‘land immediately’ and ‘land when and where convenient’.