Can an airplane fly with just one engine?

Short answer: yes. Long answer: they typically don’t.

Every so often, the folks at Buy Aviation Parts get someone asking just how many engines does an aircraft really need, and oftentimes, they’ll be surprised to know that most aircraft (even those equipped with only two engines) can take off, climb high altitudes, and land with just one. A little known fact is that the majority of engines are specifically engineered to function with the use of only one engine. So why add any more? A simple reason is that the more engines a plane has to fall back on, the better. Should one engine suddenly stop functioning, then the plane can still fly with a backup of one or two engines.

According to safety statistics, less than one in every one million flights will have an engine failure, meaning there is a very small chance for engine failure to occur. As reassuring as this number is, aviation laws will always account for emergency situations even if the chances of it actually occurring are rare. In the event of such an occurrence, the pilots will disengage the auto throttle in order to stop automatic thrust control, reduce the thrust on the engines and leave it on idle, and finally, switch off the fuel control switch so as to stop fuel flow to the engine that is malfunctioning. 

Depending on the aircraft that will be flown, some engines may require as much as four engines. Though it is not necessary to utilize all of them, commercial aircraft will typically fly with four engines as per FAA standards. Private planes, meanwhile, will usually utilize only two. For any questions on engines or other airframe structural components, contact the team at Buy Aviation Parts. They can provide aircraft propellers, engines, and detailed information on such components.

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