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Question
In the mid 70's, I was on a Boeing 747 flight from Honolulu to LAX that had to return to Honolulu just before reaching the point of no return. While waiting for a new flight, I was surprised to see a fifth engine being mounted to the wing of the plane. That plane was going to fly without passengers to repair facilities stateside, so they did not want to leave the failed engine behind.
When I related this experience to friends, they could not believe that a fifth engine was possible and that I had indulged in too many beverages. Is the practice described still the method used, regarding engine failures near Hawaii?
Thank you.

Answer
Difficult question.  Back in the 70's the rules were very different than today.  From a purely an aerodynamics standpoint putting a 5th engine on an aircraft is very ill advised.  An engine weights around 20,000 pounds and would cause a large imbalance in flight and could lead to the loss of control of the aircraft.  
Having flown the 747-200 I would say that I doubt that it would have been a standard aircraft should this had been attempted.  To put an engine on an aircraft requires hard points to attach the engine to the wing securely.  The other issue is having enough room on the wing for another engine.   The ability to ferry an aircraft (operate without passengers) with 3 engines is something that technical pilots are trained to do and it's done occasionally to relocate the aircraft to a repair station.  Not saying you didn't see what you saw.  Only you can witness that.  I would suggest you may have seen the new engine being built up before being installed.  A times they place the new engine next to the damaged engine to move all of the ancillary parts (generators, pumps etc) onto the new engine before taking the damaged one off and installing the new one.  The other item that brings the event into question is the fact that there is not evidence supporting the story.  If this was done legally and regularly then there would be procedures and pictures documenting the event.  I have a friend who is a Test Pilot at Boeing, I'll ask him if he has heard of this and let you know.  

Sorry I don't have a more definitive answer but will try and find out more for you.

Best regards,
Kevin Parker

Aviation/Flying

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Kevin Parker

Expertise

I will do my best to answer any question related to my experience. If I don't know, I promise to help you find the answer. Every question deserves an answer.

Experience

I have 30 years experience in Commercial Type Rating training, program development, human factors, instructor training, flight simulation and flying large aircraft in general. Operated L188, DC8, B747, B757, A320, A330 and A340 aircraft. Involved in cockpit design, flight testing and type certification.

Education/Credentials
Aviation college, military flight instructor, ATPL, check airman, maintenance test pilot, Simulator Test and Evaluation Pilot, Production Chief Pilot

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