Is a scenario like the one in LOST possible? Is there a possibility of finding a significant number of survivors from a plane crash in the sea? Is there evidence of anything like this having ever happened in our world's history?

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    Wikipedia has a list of incidents where planes landed on water, many of these had survivors - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_landing
    – Tom77
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 15:14
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    Start by defining what you mean by "crash". The word can imply a wide variety things from not-as-designed landings (often very survivable) through "controlled flight into terrain" and came-apart-in-mid-air scenarios. Then make sure that you are comparing apples to apples. Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 16:05
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    I think if you're in a plane, and the plane is in the water, and it isn't a seaplane, it's a crash. Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


There were 50 survivors of ET Flight 961 and all 155 survived US Flight 1549, but those were controlled (well-controlled in the latter case) landings near land.

  • @NateEldredge -- thanks, I got ET wrong initially too. Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 20:50
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    @djeidot -- and now he deleted his comment too. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 4:11
  • And now he deleted the sentence he didn't like. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:46

This question actually has two parts, one obvious one is if it's possible have survivors after plane is ditched into the sea. Wikipedia provides dozens of referenced examples of such a cases, two prominent ones are already mentioned in Malvolio's answer.

Other part is "LOST" scenario is possible, which I understand as in passengers surviving but disappearing without a trace. This is highly improbable, due ICAO SARPs requirements for ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitters) on aircraft itself and on rescue equipment such as rafts. These ELTs operate as part of Cospas-Sarsat system. The only feasible scenario where none of the ELTs would be functioning, is aircraft wreck sinking into deep sea, dragging all of ELT equipped survival equipment to the bottom with it. In which scenario chances for survivors are practically nil.

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    It used to be highly improbable. Now I'm seeing rumors that the Malaysian flight might be as far away as Pakistan, so I'm downgrading it to "very improbable". Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 18:47
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    @Malvolio: I'm referring to scenario when crash occurred at sea. Besides, it doesn't matter. If it occurred over land, crash so hard as to destroy all ELTs would have to be also hard enough to kill everybody on board. ELTs are designed to survive crash.
    – vartec
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 21:22
  • If the black boxes are so indestructible, why don't they make the whole airplane out of the same stuff? Try the veal. Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 21:45

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