Flight Plan

Why Mount Everest is a no-fly zone

| Updated on July 25, 2021

Hurricane-force winds and frequent snowstorms are obstacles

Why should anyone climb Mount Everest when one can fly down and land on it? Wish it were that simple. Except for one gentleman, Didier Delsalle, a French test helicopter pilot who was able to pull off the stunt on May 14, 2005, none others have dared to make an attempt as the chances of succeeding is zero. After several years of planning and weeks of waiting for the perfect conditions, Delsalle managed to land a stripped-down copter on the summit.

Writing for wearethemighty.com, Eric Milzarski says there are several factors that limit a pilot’s ability to fly to the top of Mount Everest. For much of the year, the mountain is covered in hurricane-force winds and sub-freezing temperatures.

Even flying over Mount Everest is as tough. Most pilots flying commercial jets usually avoid flying over such peaks as navigating through the maze of some of the highest mountains in the world is extremely risky. Tim Morgan, a commercial pilot writing for Quora says aircraft can fly above 40,000 feet, and hence it is possible to fly over Mount Everest which stands at 29,031.69 feet. However, typical flight routes do not travel above Mount Everest as the mountains create unforgiving weather.

James Durden says Route L888 is probably one of the most technical and famous routes flown. It crosses this region. “If one were to lose an engine, you generally begin a drift down as most planes cannot maintain a high crushing altitude on one engine.” They’re going to drift down from the high 30’s or low 40’s to roughly 25,000 feet. This is a gradual but mandatory descent. Since many Himalayan peaks are higher than 25,000 feet, an exit strategy has to be in place. If we lose an engine “here”, we go to this point on the drift down and exit L888 from this point to escape high terrain, says Durden. Aircraft come with 20 minutes of oxygen. If a plane loses cabin pressure, the flights have to descend to an altitude with breathable oxygen. This is known as Drift Down Procedure. The only way to do this would be to crash into one of the nearby mountains. Not a pleasant experience.

(Source: Wearethemighty.com; industrytap.com; Quora)

Published on July 25, 2021

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