Terrifying Descent to a Normal Landing

Thomson Airways flight makes safe landing.

Thomson Airways Dreamliner

Thomson Airways Dreamliner

A Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner landing
at Manchester Airport in June 2013. (Photo credit: RHL Images via Creative Commons)

The story on the web news site Kicker Daily News earlier this week about the Thomson Airways flight that "plummeted" after a mechanical issue over the Atlantic takes mainstream mangling of an aviation story to new lows.

According to the story, TOM 157, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, was headed for Manchester, England, from the Dominican Republic last week when the crew had to shut down an engine in flight. According to the piece, it then suddenly "plummeted at a speed of 500 feet per minute" over the Atlantic causing "unspeakable terror."

The piece credited the "quick thinking" crew for their heroic actions — the pilots had mere hours to find a suitable landing site. That airport turned out to be in the Azores, where they made a normal landing.

For those unfamiliar with aviation, a descent of 500 fpm is actually very gradual. At that rate, it would take 80 minutes for the 787 to descend from 40,000 feet to sea level. As one wry observer put it, at that "terrifying" rate, the greatest risk to screaming passengers was probably laryngitis.

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