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Sun May 21, 2017, 08:11 AM

Delta plane dumps fuel over Lake Michigan, returns to Detroit airport

Source: USA Today

DETROIT A Delta flight headed to Seoul, South Korea, had to dump fuel and return to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Saturday after a light in the cockpit indicated there possibly was an open maintenance panel on the outside of the aircraft, a spokesman for the airline said.

Flight 159 took off from Detroit at 4:48 p.m. ET, and about 30 minutes later the indicator light came on, Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said.

He said the plane, which had 375 passengers on board, circled Lake Michigan, dumping fuel for about an hour in order to help ensure a safe landing, which it did shortly before 7 p.m.

"They landed safely without incident," Banstetter said.

<not much more>

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/05/21/delta-plane-dumps-fuel-over-lake-michigan-returns-detroit-airport/334881001/

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply Delta plane dumps fuel over Lake Michigan, returns to Detroit airport (Original post)
jpak May 2017 OP
enough May 2017 #1
bluevoter4life May 2017 #10
enough May 2017 #17
EL34x4 May 2017 #2
PJMcK May 2017 #3
caraher May 2017 #4
PJMcK May 2017 #5
caraher May 2017 #6
mahatmakanejeeves May 2017 #19
Drahthaardogs May 2017 #8
Igel May 2017 #9
Chasstev365 May 2017 #7
demigoddess May 2017 #11
oneshooter May 2017 #20
7962 May 2017 #12
JudyM May 2017 #13
YOHABLO May 2017 #14
crosinski May 2017 #15
hack89 May 2017 #18
Adrahil May 2017 #21
dembotoz May 2017 #16
jeffreyi May 2017 #22

Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 08:22 AM

1. Without incident except for Lake Michigan. Is it usual to dump fuel in this

kind of situation?

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Response to enough (Reply #1)

Sun May 21, 2017, 11:41 AM

10. Yes

Large passenger jets have to be at or below a certain weight before they can land safely. Most of that weight is lost as fuel burns. On a long int'l flight like Detroit-Seoul, there are ten's of thousands, if not hundred's of thousands of pounds of fuel. Times that by 6.8 lbs/gallon and you got to get rid of the fuel somehow.

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Response to bluevoter4life (Reply #10)

Sun May 21, 2017, 07:54 PM

17. Thanks for the explanation. NT

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 08:23 AM

2. So, was there an open maintenance panel or was it a faulty indication?

 

This should tell us if people are going to lose their jobs or not.

FWIW, dumping fuel is standard procedure in events like the where the aircraft is required to make an unplanned landing.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 08:26 AM

3. What happens to the fuel?

Most of the fuel will evaporate before reaching the ground, provided that the jet has enough altitude.

"Thankfully, most of the fuel will evaporate before it even hits the ground. This is more likely on warmer days and when an aircraft is high up in the atmosphere -- ideally above 5,000 feet (1,524 meters). Because fuel jettison isn't very common and is done in emergency-type situations, Duquette says the FAA doesn't have hard-and-fast regulations about it, and air traffic controllers will help pilots in the process, keeping them separated from other aircraft."

This is from an article here:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/flight/modern/planes-dump-fuel-before-landing1.htm

Apparently, the primary reason for a fuel jettison is to lower the weight of the aircraft for landing. Some jets are designed to be able to takeoff at a higher weight than when they land. If the plane is over-weight at landing, it could cause structural damage or even a catastrophe.

Here's another informative article:

http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/planes/q0245b.shtml

Thankfully, the Delta flight in the OP returned safely.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #3)

Sun May 21, 2017, 08:31 AM

4. Of course, "evaporate" is not the same as "disappear"

It's better to disperse it in the atmosphere than to have a concentrated rain of jet fuel. But it's still a dump of jet fuel into the environment.

I have no idea whether the environmental impact of doing this is better or worse than burning it. And of course the safety of the passenger, crew and value of the plane are all taken as higher priorities in a situation like this.

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Response to caraher (Reply #4)

Sun May 21, 2017, 08:39 AM

5. The fuel

I agree that the dispersion of the fuel into our environment is problematical. Of course, as you wrote, the safety of the plane and its passengers is problematical, too!

In order to burn the jettisoned fuel, it has to be ignited by the engines' afterburners. Do commercial jets have that feature? I don't think they do. In fact, shorter-haul jets do not have fuel jettisoning pumps because the ratio between takeoff and landing weights don't exceed the FAA's 105% requirement.

I used to live on New York's City Island which is beneath one of the primary approaches to Laguardia Airport. It was always fascinating to watch the planes lining up over Long Island Sound. Although the aircrafts' altitudes were probably between 3,000 and 5,000 feet, we would get soot from the jets' exhaust. It was like tiny black flakes that had an oily texture. It was dirty.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #5)

Sun May 21, 2017, 09:15 AM

6. Yeah, I know they have no choice

It was more a musing on my part... and of course in the end the plane flies back, the passengers board another plane (or re-board that one) and the net result is that the fuel required to reach their destination gets burned anyway.

Concerning the sooty exhaust from the jets... I wonder whether they're cleaner now. Today's engines are less "jet" than ducted fans compared to the turbojets of the early commercial jets. Of course I don't know how long ago you lived there...

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Response to caraher (Reply #6)

Mon May 22, 2017, 09:59 AM

19. Back in 1993 and 1994, I lived in Vancouver, Washington.

The sidewalks on the I-5 bridge over the Columbia provided a good vantage point for watching traffic at PDX. Evergreen Air was still operating a DC-8, or maybe a few DC-8s, in cargo operation. In the afternoon, I would see one leaving PDX. Ooof, did it leave a trail of soot.

I don't know what sort of engines it had. Someone at Airliners.net will know without having to look that up.

Good thread.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #5)

Sun May 21, 2017, 09:26 AM

8. It's really not though

It is a small amount and a rare occurrence. The environmental impact is nothing, but it sounds bad.

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Response to caraher (Reply #4)

Sun May 21, 2017, 10:04 AM

9. Probably slight worse than burning it.

The CO2 would be trivial, but it would still be.

The hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere will contribute to a bit of smog but ultimately be oxidized down to good ol' CO2. Nature doesn't like having gobs of easily available energy around. Bury it under thick layers of rock at high temperatures, it's not "easily available."

But take the Gulf of Mexico as an example. Millions of gallons of crude oil leak out from the bottom every year, and has since long before there were primates. Bacteria are there to consume it. It takes a while, but the naturally occurring seepage was handled by the bacteria. It's just a question of getting the hydrocarbons over the Great Lakes matched up with the little mouths that would hungrily and avidly consume them.

More likely the hydrocarbons dropped by the plane are already well along to being degraded by O2, O3, and sunlight.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 09:22 AM

7. The Coho Salmon will be extra oilly!

 

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 12:10 PM

11. sounds to me like we are still operating with

stone knives and bearskins.

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Response to demigoddess (Reply #11)

Mon May 22, 2017, 10:06 AM

20. Then design a better way. n/t

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 03:05 PM

12. Only a few commercial models even have the ability to do a fuel dump

 

Boeing & Airbus's bigger jets, like the 747 & A380, can. But the regionals cannot

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 03:12 PM

13. Delta ought to make a large contribution to preserve the Lake ecosystem rather than just walk away.

Companies should have to internalize the environmental costs of their operations. Unfortunately, this is not our system.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 04:39 PM

14. Sometimes they do what they have to do, to secure the safety of passengers.

 

It's unfortunate in regard to our ecosystem .. but I'm glad they landed safely.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 05:49 PM

15. Possibly one of the reasons why there so many cancer 'hot spots' in the U.S.?

Just my opinion, but I don't think the evaporation fairy made it ok for all the animals that breath the air in, around, and to the east of Lake Michigan, where the prevailing winds blow. That's where my family and I live, by the way.

Sorry, but my brother died of cancer recently, and I'm about to be tested for the same thing. I've been researching cancer hot spots around where we lived when we were kids and, sadly, there are so many that it makes the search ridiculous. So, I hope you can understand why I'm a little astonished about jet fuel being casually dropped. I didn't realize it happen often.

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Response to crosinski (Reply #15)

Sun May 21, 2017, 09:42 PM

18. It is not done casually

But there is no other way to quickly get an airplane down to a safe landing weight during an emergency.

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Response to crosinski (Reply #15)

Mon May 22, 2017, 02:14 PM

21. Unlikely. Fuel dumping is not very common....

 

It's basically flushing money down the toilet. Flights are planned to land with fuel to land below safe landing limits. It's typically only done in cases where safety is involved.

I used to do a ton of flight testing for the Navy, and some of our tests required the planes to be at a high gross weight, so we loaded them up with external fuel tanks, which would then dump until down to safe weights for landing. But even then we used specially modified tanks that held water, and which could not connect to the planes fuel system.

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Sun May 21, 2017, 07:35 PM

16. even as i type this my best friend in on a transcontinental flight with delta

fish are nice and all but keep her safe....

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Response to jpak (Original post)

Mon May 22, 2017, 02:40 PM

22. So chemtrails are for real after al!

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