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Posted on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

Did Delta jet dump fuel over Dexter as engine problem forced return to Metro airport?

By Cindy Heflin


A Delta 747 jet.

Delta photo

A Delta flight bound for Japan had to return to Detroit Metro Airport Sunday after the pilot discovered a problem in one of the engines and shut it down.

Delta Flight 275, which departed at 3:25 p.m. Sunday for Narita International Airport, landed safely just before 5 p.m., said Delta spokesman Anthony Black. No one was injured. Passengers were put on another flight that left this morning, Black said.

Thom Phillips, a Dexter area resident, said he saw the Delta jet dumping fuel Sunday afternoon as he was driving near the village on Dexter-Ann Arbor Road.

"It was pretty low, … and fuel was coming from the wingtips,” he said.

Large white contrails were streaming from the plane, he said.

The 747 had to dump fuel before landing, Black said. The jet was carrying 392 passengers, Black told the Daily Press & Argus.

He said the jet was above the minimum height required for getting rid of fuel, which would have evaporated in the atmosphere. He did not know how much fuel the jetliner had to dump.

The jet is equipped to operate with three engines, Black said, but the pilot decided to return to the airport as a precaution, he said.


Marilyn Wilkie

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

Here is an explanation about dumping fuel from this site - <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Once released, the fuel trails behind the aircraft and creates a pattern that looks much like a contrail. Modern aviation fuel comes in many varieties but all are derivatives of kerosene. Kerosene evaporates rapidly in the atmosphere and very little typically survives in liquid form to reach the Earth's surface. The exact evaporative characteristics of dumped fuel depends on a number of factors like the altitude at which it was released, the atmospheric temperature, and the dumping pressure. Kerosene dumped at high altitude on a warm day tends to evaporate fastest. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets requirements for when and how fuel dumping may occur in Order 7110.65P, Chapter 9, Section 5. This instruction stipulates that fuel can only be dumped above a minimum altitude of 2,000 ft (610 m), to improve its evaporation, and that a dumping aircraft must be separated from other air traffic by at least 5 miles (8 km). Air traffic controllers are also instructed to direct planes dumping fuel away from populated areas and over large bodies of water as much as possible. The same guidelines apply to military aircraft, and most air bases only permit fuel dumping in a specified area. Despite these restrictions, environmental groups have expressed concern over the potential pollution implications of fuel dumping. It has been estimated that as much as 15 million pounds of fuel was released over the world's oceans by commercial and military aircraft during the 1990s. Although kerosene poses no danger to the ozone layer, it is a petroleum product that can impact water quality much like an oil or gasoline spill. ?- answer by Jeff Scott, 2 October 2005


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

It wouldn't be the first time I've seen a low flying jet liner up here in Northern Ann Arbor. I never saw it come back I just figured it was nothing.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

I too saw the jet over Saline making a couple of passes, complete with contrails . I'd rather breath in a bit of vapor than risk a bunch of lives in a huge fireball landing. I'll take that for the team.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

This is not the first time I've seen a 747 dumping fuel in the exact same area.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

My daughter and I saw this too ... we could see it flying overhead in Saline. We wondered how close ... how far away it was and what it was doing. Now we know, it makes me wish I questioned a little more the &quot;strange&quot; things I see. :D


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

I saw this too. Does anyone know how much fuel is dumped per year and what effects it has on the atmosphere? I'm tired of being picked on because of all the emissions my little Snapper push mower puts out.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

The headline, &quot;Did Delta jet dump fuel over Dexter as engine problem forced return to Metro airport?&quot; makes it sound like there is question whether this actually happened. I think there is sufficient evidence to say it really did.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

I watched and filmed this jet dumping thousands of gallons of jet-A into the atmosphere yesterday. It made 6-7 passes north to south between Baker and Wagner Rd's. It was low for a large jet, 2000 - 4000 ft. Went directly over me at the gas station on Baker and I-94 while filling up....the irony!


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

I wonder if this is the start of the &quot;Walking Zombies&quot;. Who knows what those chemicals will do to the living and the dead! Please report any strange sightings or Zombies in the area! I believe that this was done to make this a really special &quot;Halloween&quot;


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

I saw this yesterday with my kids while we were outside. I remembered how unusual it was to see a relatively low-flying 747, and also that it had so much of a contrail on both wingtips that didn't seem natural.

Elaine F. Owsley

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

According to Channel 4 news yesterday, the jet dumped it's fuel over Pinckney. -They showed it being done.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

The headline here makes it sound like there's a potential problem or dispute over the (alleged) fuel dump, but the text implies that even if it did happen, it wouldn't be a problem because the plane was above the threshold altitude and the fuel would have evaporated. Am I missing something? Why is this news?


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

This is pretty much a non-issue. Obviously Delta doesn't like throwing away fuel, but it's done at an altitude where it evaporates before reaching the ground. Suboptimal, but the maximum take off weight of a 747 is much higher than the maximum landing weight. That said, I'm pretty sure the article doesn't mean Delta 235 (which heads in the other direction) but rather Delta 275 which takes off daily at 3:25 for Narita International Airport in Tokyo.

Cindy Heflin

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

The flight number has been corrected.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Saw this jet as I was biking out near Dexter. Glad to know what was going on. And my buddy up here in heaven, CB's Ghost, is correct. Good Night and Good Luck


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Hey Charlie Brown......It's still hydrocarbon polution regardless if it's a liquid or a gas. Automobiles have thousands of dollars of umboard eauipment to control evaporitive emissions, I guess planes are exempt? It still goes into the atmosphere we all breath.

Bob Krzewinski

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 10:56 p.m.

An engine failure is an emergency. As an airline Captain, if I have an engine failure the only thing I am going to be thinkign about is the safety of the crew and passengers, not evaporative emmissions.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

Hey Brian.... It would be more pollution if the plane lands without dumping the fuel and bursts into flames. It's not safe to land these plane with that much fuel on board, because it's too heavy. That is why they dump it.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

I saw this jet go over my home in Ann Arbor. Had &quot;contrails&quot; coming off of each wing tip. Not certain if fuel or not, but the plane was pretty low. The contrail looked like that on the left wing of the photo below: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:21 p.m.

I saw this plane kept circling around western Washtenaw Co. yesterday, making weird patterns and was not sure where it was trying to land, but there were large contrails that were streaming from each wing area, I assumed it was burning fuel for some reason. I'm not sure why it didn't fly eastward and try to negotiate a landing on the east coast if it could fly with 3 engines. I guess the FAA will have to figure out. No one injured so good to know nothing came of that.

Bob Krzewinski

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 10:54 p.m.

Speaking as a airline pilot with another airline, most airline operations manuals, which are approved by the FAA, mandate landing at the nearest suitable airport, which in this case would have still been Detroit Metro airport. The risk you take flying to an airport further away is that if other problems come up, now you could be a long way to another airport.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:21 p.m.

We saw this too when we were on Dexter Ann ARbor road and wondered what was going on. Good to know...

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

This is a non-issue. The fuel is released in a mist and quickly evaporates.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

So?...I wonder what the issues are with dumping fuel below a certain height? Just evaporation? Hmmm...Sure would be nice if a &quot;news&quot; organization would ask the follow up questions and provide the coverage...

Rob T

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

I'm not sure if allows links in comments, but here's the answer: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. If that doesn't work, you can just search Google for 'wiki aircraft fuel dump.' From what I've seen staff and other posters are happy to answer questions, if asked politely by &quot;commenters.&quot;