Why did a plane throw the gasoline that fell on schools in Los Angeles?

Students outside a primary school, after having been sprayed with the gasoline that a Delta plane threw south of Los Angeles, California.


Residents of Cudahy, in The Angels, California, remain surprised and worried about the fuel rain who downloaded on them a plane of the airline Delta bound for Shanghai, China, this Tuesday, affecting several schools Y dozens of children and adults.

Now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said he is already investigating the case.

The aircraft Boeing 777 I was returning to the emergency Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) minutes after takeoff, when the pilot decided to release the fuel "to reach a safe weight when landing”, The airline explained in a statement where it cataloged the procedure as normal.

The fuel dispersed in two jets from the wings and fell on the city of Cudahy and nearby parts of Los Angeles County, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) east of the airport, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The fuel vapor landed directly over three schools and others 20 centers They experienced some effects from the smell. "It was a very strong smell", said Diego Martínez to The Associated Press, a student of sixth grade in the primary of Park avenue, in Cudahy, who was in the courtyard taking the class of physical education.

At least 56 children and adults They were treated at the site of the incident due to minor skin and lung irritations. The emergency services They did not have to take anyone to the hospital and only used soap and water to decontaminate them.

Why did you discharge fuel?

The conversation between the pilots and the control tower revealed engine problems right with a compressor stopped, damage that can occur when an object or a bird crashes into the turbines. In the worst cases this can cause a fire.

During a emergency landingsometimes it is necessary unload fuel To lighten the ship.

But when the control tower asked if they wanted to return to the airport immediately or stay for a while on the ocean to burn fuel, one of the pilots responded: “We will continue forward. We have it under control again. We are not critical. ”

"Ok, so you don't need to hold or release fuel or anything like that?" Asked the flight controller.

"Hey, negative”, Answered the pilot.

As you know, the plane did end up dropping fuel at low altitude and over a densely populated area.

"There are special fuel discharge procedures for aircraft operating inside and outside any major United States airport, ”the FAA said in a statement. “These procedures establish that the fuel must be released in uninhabited areas and typically at higher altitude to be dispersed before reaching the ground. ”

Nevertheless, pilots can deviate from the rules in an emergency For security reasons, said Doug Moss, captain of a retired airline and owner of AeroPacific Consulting LLC, an aviation consulting firm in Reno, Nevada.

The pilot could have stayed in the ocean to discharge his fuel, but that could have taken at least half an hour and up to an hour, Moss said.

He said that when the compressors stop, the crew cannot determine how much internal damage was done to the engine, which could mean "an uncontrollable fire as a future possibility."

"A plane is flying with a damaged engine that may be on fire," Moss said. “So he has to make the decision: do I dedicate time to throw fuel or put this on the ground as soon as I can? "You are not going to kill anyone by throwing fuel."

“There is no abandonment of duty. Everyone is trying their best, but it's a fast and dynamic game, and there's not much time to think … lives are at stake, ”said Moss. “He took it to the ground safely. Unfortunately, there was collateral damage. People were sprayed with gas. ”

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