Delta riders who bombed primary school yards with jet fuel before making an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport they did not notify air traffic control of the need to throw fuel and did not throw it at an optimum altitude, the FAA said. Wednesday.
Pilots are generally directed by drivers to an appropriate area to discharge fuel, a protocol that did not happen on Tuesday, the FAA said in a statement.
“The FAA continues to investigate the circumstances behind this incident,” the statement said.
Delta made national news on Tuesday when pilots of flight 89 bound for Shanghai threw fuel before making an emergency landing just after takeoff. Delta said the twin-engine Boeing 777 had experienced engine problems.
Dozens of people on the ground, including students from several elementary schools, were treated for eye and skin irritation, Los Angeles County firefighters said. Decontamination stations were established, but there were no injuries that required hospitalization, authorities said.
Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said it could be too early to judge the decisions of a pilot trying to ensure the safety of his passengers and crew.
“A 777 that flies nonstop to Shanghai is absolutely loaded with fuel,” Goelz said. “So loaded that landing immediately after takeoff poses a significant danger.”
Goelz, who is not involved in the investigation, said the guidelines usually require that fuel be thrown over water and / or at an altitude of 10,000 feet so that it can disperse and minimize environmental damage. But the rules change for a very heavy plane that needs to return to the ground, he said.
Goelz said each pilot knows the history of Swissair Flight 111, an MD-11 bound for Geneva from New York that collapsed in the Atlantic Ocean off Nova Scotia on September 2, 1998. None of the 229 people on board survived The crew had called in case of emergency, but was flying away from an airport to be able to throw fuel on the water when it crashed.
“The pilots know that when you have a problem that threatens the aircraft and you have to get rid of the fuel, you get rid of it quickly,” he said. “You don’t want things like this to happen (pollution), but the alternative is too serious.”
The FAA said it was investigating the fuel dump, noting that the procedures require that the fuel be thrown over “designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes for the fuel to be atomized and dispersed before reaching the ground.”
Delta said the unexplained engine problem required the plane to “return quickly” to LAX.
“The plane landed safely after a fuel release, which was required as part of the normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight,” Delta said.
The airline said it was in contact with the airport and firefighters and expressed concern about “minor injuries” to adults and children.
The smell of jet fuel floated in some neighborhoods.
The Los Angeles Unified School District said the crews washed playgrounds, playground equipment, lunch tables and drinking fountains. He said the air conditioner was left on in the affected schools overnight to thoroughly ventilate classrooms and other school buildings.
Delta said it sent 13 cleaning teams to assist the district in night cleaning work.
The vice president of the School Board, Jackie Goldberg, was “shocked and angry” at the fuel dump on the playground of Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy and promised to closely monitor the investigation.
“I regret that our school community had to go through this terrifying incident today,” Goldberg said.
Goelz was willing to give the pilots the benefit of the doubt, at least for now.
“From good to first, I would not criticize the crew until I have more information,” he said. “It was not an easy decision”.
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