A kinematic methodology to optimize the landing trajectory for the Boeing 737 jet undergoing total loss of thrust

Kivanc A. Avrenli, Barry J. Dempsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although contemporary twin-engine airliners offer superior fuel efficiency and reduced noise levels compared to yesterday's three- and four-engine airliners, they are more vulnerable to total loss of thrust due to reduced engine redundancy. In the event of total loss of thrust, quick reference handbooks are designed to provide a successful recovery of at least one engine. However, if an engine recovery is not achieved, flight crews are left with little to no guidance on how to handle the engines-out landing. Therefore, the idea of engines-out landing trajectory optimization should be further developed for contemporary twin-engine airliners. A major obstacle to the development of this idea is the inaccessibility of aircraft-specific aerodynamic data for airliners. To fill in this gap, this study applies a kinematic trajectory optimization method to the Boeing 737 Next Generation (NG), which is the second best-selling aircraft family as of today after the competing Airbus A320. Unlike conventional trajectory optimization methods, the kinematic algorithm requires minimal input of aircraft-specific aerodynamic data that can be effortlessly collected in a full-flight simulator. The article simulates a realistic bird-strike scenario and conducts flight simulation tests in a Boeing 737 NG full-flight simulator to assess the applicability of the kinematic methodology to the Boeing 737 NG aircraft. The results demonstrate that the algorithm can compute the optimum trajectory within 4% error. The accuracy and computationally undemanding algorithm of the kinematic methodology makes it promising for real-world use on the Boeing 737 NG aircraft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-104
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Transportation Safety and Security
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017


  • aviation
  • education/training
  • emergency response
  • environmental hazards
  • operation
  • simulation
  • systems safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transportation
  • Safety Research


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