What could be done on an Airplane! scenario?

Commercial jet, pilot and copilot are dead. Plane is in terrible weather. What could be done to save the 300 lives that are flying on the plane?

Wish I’d picked another day to quit sniffing glue?

Terrible weather is only regional. You can always fly to somewhere outside of it.

And someone on board would need to be talked through landing the plane. Admittedly, technology is a bit more advanced than when that movie was made, so the plane can pretty much land itself these days.

“They bought the tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say let 'em crash!”

I was going to tell you that it’s wall to wall storms, but then I pictured Kirstie Allie saying it and realized that that was from Look Who’s Talking.


The plane will likely have someone who can pilot the aircraft or who could be talked through it depending upon the weather, the state of panic of the passenger when they found put the pilots were dead and whether they could keep a cool head.A lot of it is automatic meaning that it could conceivably be done.

However, any incident which kills BOTH pilot and co-pilot would probably do in the passengers as well.


They’s better that Ted Stryker was on that flight and he’s overcome his drinking problem.

Lets say they ate the fish. Or a really bad terrorist iin terrorism only managed to terrorise pilot and copilot.

The flight attendants are likely trained to at least use the emergency radio. They could contact a control tower, and one of them or a passenger could be talked through engaging the autopilot to bring the plane to the nearest airport.

Failing that, a passenger could call 911 and be patched through to the tower, to get instructions. Either air-phone or a cell phone if the plane happens to be flying over one.

It was only the people that had the fish. They, IIRC, made a point of having both the pilot and co-pilot have the fish for dinner.

Wait… that’s just what they’re expecting us to do…

Well Demian, that’s a scary thought isn’t it. But don’t be afraid, here’s Mummy. She will tuck you up in your little bed and give you a nice warm milky drink. Then ask Mummy to leave the night-light on until you fall asleep.

It’s an entirely different kind of flying, altogether.

If the pilots died suddenly then nothing could be done as the cockpit door would be locked.

I wouldn’t rely on the cabin crew being able to use the radio. They aren’t trained to in our company and you’d be better off finding a passenger who was a private pilot or something.

An autoland is an option but not 100% reliable as the system is designed for landing in fog and can’t handle strong winds.

Best chance would be to get the person with the most relevant aviation experience to call for help then get talked through an autoland.

Find out if any passengers have flying experience, and offer free training on a big plane.

But really, there’s nothing to worry about. The aviation industry has a perfect record. Every plane that’s gone up has come back down.

It’s an entirely different kind of flying.

NASA on the other hand…

This is why I always have the lasagna.

The first bet would certainly be to try to find a passenger who happens to also be a pilot. There probably would be: A lot more people have pilot’s licenses than you think, and those that do are disproportionately likely to be on a plane. That failing, though, if they had to take someone inexperienced to be talked down by the tower, one of the flight attendants probably would be the best bet. Contrary to popular belief, the flight attendants’ primary job is actually disaster response, and they’re selected and trained for things like keeping cool in a crisis: Serving drinks and so on is just how they keep busy in the hoped-for event that there isn’t a crisis.

It’s plausible that with expert help from the tower a novice could be talked through landing a plane, both Jamie and Adam were able to do it–on a NASA simulator. Of course, at the end of the episode the tower pilot told them that the autopilot could have done it for them. So the only thing the novice would need to do is advice on how to turn on the autopilot.

Damn! Ninja’ed!

Here’s the Mythbusters page on that segment (though the URL slug appears to be wrong):

They do mention Airplane! in the text.

Please tell me there’s some failsafe mechanism with this scenario (or something like it) in mind.

Assuming it’s an electronic lock, could it be unlocked remotely by some authorized individual on the ground?