An aircraft landing on a body of water is referred to as a “water landing” in aviation. Seaplanes, such as floatplanes and flying boats, frequently make water landings. Ditching is a very unusual emergency controlled landing on the water’s surface in an aircraft not intended for the purpose. Water landings or ditching are typically not considered to be controlled flight into the surface or uncontrolled flight ending in a body of water.
On the water, seaplanes, flying boats, and amphibious aircraft can take off and land. A hull-shaped fuselage and/or pontoons can support landing. Aircraft size restrictions were traditionally lifted in part because of the presence of long effective runways, and their freedom from built-up regions makes them still handy for travel to lakes and other rural locations.
Lingering on the water is also necessary for maritime rescue missions and combating fires. Water landing has the drawback that it is ʀɪsᴋy when there are waves. The required gear also reduces the craft’s speed and aerodynamic efficiency.
Early American crewed spacecraft was built with the intention of splashing down on water upon arrival. The craft would plunge into the ocean by parachute, the water serving as a cushion to soften the impact and bring the craft to a rest. Braking rockets were not needed as the landing was over water as opposed to land, but there were drawbacks such as challenging retrieval and drowning ʀɪsᴋ. Instead, a runway was meant to be used in the NASA Space Shuttle design. Some next spacecraft are going to let people land in the water.
All areas of aviation not related to the military or regularly scheduled flights are categorized as general aviation. Small aircraft, such as training aircraft, airships, gliders, heliᴄᴏᴘters, and corporate aircraft, including business jets and other for-hire activities, are included in this category. With 16 fatalities per million flight hours, general aviation has the highest ᴀᴄᴄɪᴅᴇɴᴛ and incident rate in aviation compared to commercial airlines’ 0.74 fatalities per million flight hours.
Commercial pilots are not required by the FAA to receive ditching training, however airline cabin crews are required to receive evacuation training. In addition, the FAA created regulations that specify which conditions need an aircraft to Cᴀʀʀʏ emergency supplies, such as life rafts and life jackets.
A water landing is a possibility for some types of aircraft. A “ditching button,” for instance, is present on Airbus aircraft. Pressing it seals valves and openings underneath the aircraft, such as the outflow valve, the air inlet for the emergency RAT, the avionics inlet, the extract valve, and the flow control valve. Its purpose is to reduce flooding at a water landing.
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