A frightening event happened when the Delta Flight 89, a Boeing 777-200 jet headed to Shanghai from Los Angeles, accidentally dumped fuel over more than one school in LA after take off Tuesday. Adults and students were treated for getting sprayed with jet fuel and parents are concerned about the long-term effect this will have on their children, said the NY Times.
The air crew usually communicates with air control before dumping the fuel but did not this time. The flight was headed back to LA Airport for an emergency landing due to engine trouble. More than 50 people were injured from exposure to jet fuel, according to KTLA 5.
The incident affected mostly Park Avenue Elementary where 31 were injured, San Gabriel Elementary, Graham Elementary, Tweedy Elementary, 93rd Street Elementary and Jordan High School.
One fifth grader said it sprayed him all over and his friends and got into his eyes. The drops were described by one student as drops of water coming down but it was gasoline. Another student thought it was smoke but it smelled like gas, according to an article on CNN.
The students and adults affected were asked to wash with soap and water and given gowns to remove soiled clothing. No further treatment was necessary. Workers saw and smelled drops of jet fuel on raining on their cars.
The plane was carrying 167 people and plenty of gas for the trip to Shanghai. When it took off the pilots noticed engine trouble, said the Delta spokeswoman. "The engine experienced compressor stalls on the right-side engine, and the pilots believed they were in immediate danger and the pilots may have to justify their decision", the Aviation Herald reported. These passengers are safe.
If a plane needs to land near take off time, it needs to be light for landing, and fuel weighs, and hasn’t burnt enough near take off so pilots need to dump fuel to make the plane weigh light enough for landing. This is why planes dump fuel. The pilots contacted air control, stated the emergency, turned around and dumped its fuel. Aviation experts are puzzled as to why the pilot chose to dump the fuel where he did, according to LosAngeles.cbslocal.com. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the fuel dump.
According to the F.A.A., the flight crew stated that they did not need to dump fuel in a recorded post published by the Los Angeles Times. Traffic Controller asked “So you don’t need to hold to dump fuel or anything like that?” The pilot replied, “uhh, negative.” There are assigned areas safe for dumping.
According to cbsLosAngeles, pilots should be 8,000 to 10,000 feet above ground before dumping fuel allowing it to evaporate, and that the modern jet craft is designed to land overweight. Also, Capt. Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts said that the pilots could have easily gone above water, with the Pacific Ocean nearby. Forbes reports that the aircraft went up 7,000ft before starting to descend.
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION INFORMATIONAL REQUIREMENTS!
Fuel Dumping at FAA.Gov advises to control dump fuel at high altitudes as far away from the airport or any populated area as possible.
9-4-1.Information Requirements: When information is received that an aircraft plans to dump fuel, determine the route and altitude it will fly and the weather conditions in which the operation will be conducted.
9-4-2 Routing: Except when it is dumping fuel for emergency reasons, an aircraft in either VFR or IFR conditions may be requested to fly a different mode.
9-4-3.Altitude Assignment: If an aircraft is dumping fuel in IFR conditions, assign an altitude at least 2,000 feet above the highest obstacle within five miles of the route or pattern flown.
9-4-4 Separate Minima: Separate known aircraft from the aircraft dumping fuel as follows:
a. IFR aircraft by one of the following:
- Vertical Separation Minima, whichever is greater.
- 2,000 feet below it
- Five miles radar
- Five miles laterally
B. VFR radar-identified aircraft by five miles and in accordance with paragraph 5-6-1, Application.
9-4-5. Information Dissemination:
a. If you are in contact with an aircraft when it starts dumping fuel, inform other controllers and facilities which might be concerned. Facilities concerned must broadcast an advisory on appropriate radio frequencies at 3-minute intervals until the dumping stops.
References: CNN, A Plane Dumped Jet Fuel Over LA
NYTimes, Why Did a Delta Plane Dump Jet Fuel Over LA Schools
CbsLosAngeles, Delta Flight Dumps Fuel Over LA Schools; Dozens of Students/Adults Treated for Exposure
VFR: Visual Flight Rules, a set of regulations which a pilot flies a plane under weather conditions clear enough.
IFR: Instrument Flight Rules, regulations concerning all aspects of aircraft operations.