The massive Boeing 747-400 has just flown
over Alaska and is now almost halfway through
a thirteen and a half hour journey from Detroit
to Japan’s Narita Airport.
On long journeys, it is common to have two
They flying shifts to prevent fatigue.
Flight 85 is more than six hours from landing
“The aircraft dramatic rolled to the left.
It was 35 or 40 degrees of bank.”
For no apparent reason, the pilots have lost
control of their plane.
Captain has only moment to react.
“Do we loosing engine?
Do we still have engines?
We have all engines, but it`s not it”
The lives of 386 passengers hang in the balance.
In a matter of seconds, Captain Guy disconnected
the autopilot, pulled back on the control
column and levelled the wings, but something
is still seriously wrong.
“Frank, you got it?
Yeah, I think, I got it.
If this not an engine, we have a problem
with the rudder.”
The pilots have leveled the plane but they
are still having difficulty controlling it.
The warning system confirms Guy`s suspicion,
a malfunction of the rudder system.
The rudder control the plane’s yaw, its
movements from left to right as it flies.
It directs airflow to keep it flying straight.
This plane is in danger of suffering the same
Because of its size the 747 has both an upper
and lower rudder.
They normally move in unison.
For some unknown reason the lower rudder has
deflected 17 degrees to the left and it stuck
The captain tries to keep the plane flying
level and straight.
He uses foot pedals to control the upper rudder
and the control column to move the ailerons.
But he knows it is a stopgap measure that
may not work for long.
“I have got the airplane and the radios.
You get the COM and see if there is a procedure
The COM or cockpit-operating manual provides
a list of procedures for emergency situations.
Hydraulics control several vital components
including the failed rudder.
More failures could spell disaster.
“How far to Narita?
About 6 hours.”
Flying that far without full control of the
plane is a huge risk.