This could be the worst nightmare for any air traveller. Though the chances of having complete engine failure are extremely rare yet it has happened in past. One of the most well-known incidents happened in 2001 with Air Transat Flight 236. Where both the engines failed due to fuel leakage. Captain Robert Piche and his first officer Dirk DeJagar flew for 19mins, covering 75 miles before making a bouncy landing at Lajes Air Base. No lives were lost in the accident. Moreover, it was the longest distance flown by any passenger airplane without any engine in aviation history. The above incident reassures that even when both the engines fail, there is quite a decent chance of avoiding any big mishap.
How can a plane fly without any engine?
An aircraft can glide perfectly even in case of all engine failure. The movement of air passing over the wings enables the aircraft to fly in such situations. Since the force to push the aircraft forward is no longer there, in order to keep the air flowing over the wings, the aircraft will have to move altitude. However, it is not required to do so rapidly. Even from the height of 36000 feet, the aircraft will have a window of 20-30 mins to land safely.
Any typical aircraft has a lift to drag ratio of around 10:1. Which means that for every 10 miles it travels forward, it loses 1 mile in altitude. So, if an aircraft loss both engines at a height of 36000 feet then it will be able to fly 70 miles before it makes to the ground.
Culprits behind engine failure
The major reasons for such engine failures are fuel exhaustion, volcanic ash, the impact of birds, maintenance issues etc.
So sit back and relax as the incidents like these happen more frequently in movies than in real life.