Question - Why don't some emergencies land as soon as possible to the nearest airport?

Hey guys!


Just a question, I was reading a simple flying article about a cracked windshield on a Bangkok-bound Rossiya B777 and something got me a bit stumbled up.

I was wondering, that considering the fact that a cracked windshield can be quite serious, why did the crew decide to take a 3-hour return to the originating airport? Isn’t this dangerous? Why didn’t they land at the nearest suitable airport? The flight time was a whopping 8:11 hours.

Here’s a flight path of this flight

Answers would be greatly appreciated!

1 Like

If my memory serves me well, I’m pretty sure it’s because the city the nearest suitable airport is in may not have the proper equipment to repair the aircraft or treat a medical issue.

3 Likes

All depends on how urgent it is, usually any time they would turn around they have diversions on the way there in case it goes from bad to worse, so no real extra danger is present, so pilots are able to get the passengers, and the aircraft to a more convenient location.

2 Likes

Usually, after some hours of flying and an emergency occurs, the aircraft is maybe too heavy to land at an airport. It’s called MLW, the must be below MLW (Maximum Landing Weight) to land safely.

1 Like

They can dump fuel at a nearby acceptable airport though.

Fuel dump it’s depends on the amount of fuel needed to be released. And some airports, this is in Russia may not have capabilities to support a 777. And someone also said “convenient location”

It all really depends on the emergency, so a great example is with helicopters we have chip warning lights, its a system that detects little metal fragments (like extremely small one) that are coming off the main rotor or tail rotor, these little metal fragments are attracted to the chip light readers and once they come on in our cockpit we know that there’s a potential accident that is about to take place so we need to land ASAP so we don’t screw stuff up, another is a governor failure, basically we turn it off and fly the throttle manually, it’s not a required to land immediately situation but we can land as soon as practicable.

So now lets look at landing spots, so can the runway support our aircraft, is there facilities to support our passengers and cargo, is there mantaince spots, can our jet actually leave the airport, how much is it going cost the company, can we get another jet in there, do they have the proper equipment to offload and upload?

2 Likes

You’re right, but I’m looking at a map now and they could’ve diverted to Volvograd (9000ft) or Astrakhan (10,500ft).

This is my question, why did they choose to divert back to Moscow with a 3-4 hour leg back than be safe and land somewhere closer? (Airports listed above)

Depending on the situation and convenience. The situation may have been not as bad comparing to like British Airways incident, and most people may not been familiar to those locations. It could’ve went back to Moscow for people’s familiarity to the city or could’ve went quickly to replace with a similar aircraft.

1 Like

Tons of things might play into such a decision.

In some cases the diversion has to be done to the nearest suitable airport (“Land ASAP”), which means you will try to go to the next airport which is open and has a long enough runway (and is able to handle an emergency).

Such instances might be a all engine flame-out in flight or fire in the cabin.

In other instances factors such as maintenance facilities, political relations to the country, possibilities to get passengers to their destination and many other factors can play a role.

A windshield has multiple layers and it might have been that only one layer was broken.
The crew would then have a look in the procedures and if it doesn’t require “Land ASAP” a diversion to a better suited airport (here the homebase) would be initiated. Also the Crew did descend apparently as instructed by the procedures.

All looking all right to me, but interesting question!

Disclaimer: I am not a pilot and can also only speculated about the actual situation/decision making process.

1 Like

Thanks for the answers everyone! I now understand :)

2 Likes

Closed on OP request