View Full Version : Fuel Dumping Does and Don'ts

26th Dec 2005, 20:53
Ladies and Gents, me and a colleague were involved in a diversion of an oceanic outbound from LFPG to KIAD this afternoon which unfortunately had to diverte to EGKK for a medical emergency.

It was a COA 777 which was obviously still quite fat with fuel so had to dump for twenty mins before continuing to EGKK. What a shame the only available place to dump was over the west midlands as the nearest water was some distance away.

Now, the information I'm after is, what, from a pilots point of view, would you like us as controllers to do with aircraft that aren't dumping but are going to have to pass reasonably close to the area where fuel dumping is occuring.

Obviously you wouldn't be vectored underneath the area, but how do you feel about being descended on top of a dumping aircraft? What about being vectored to go at least 5 miles behind where the dumping aircraft has just passed and many more scenarios I can't think of a the moment.

The reason I'm after some info is that our training doesn't really cover the area of fuel dumping very well. All we are told that fuel dumping should occur over the sea if possible and above 8000ft agl in the summer or 10000ft agl in the winter and that's it.

Any pointers would be great.

Ps I hope the poor guy on the plane with the medical problem isn't too serious.

26th Dec 2005, 20:57
No somking:E

Sorry. I'll get my coat...

Carnage Matey!
26th Dec 2005, 21:52
I certainly wouldn't want to be vectored 5 miles behind a dumping aircraft! Thats barely a minute behind him! Over the top sounds fine as long as he's not descending in a holding pattern whilst dumping. Ditto for descending on top. Also if he's dumping in a know area I'd rather go upwind than downwind of that area if possible.

26th Dec 2005, 23:00
Did some research via Boeing:

In a nutshell, dispersion is very quick. In one test, fuel was dumped on a bush fire type situation from 500 ft. No effect whatsoever. Most regs require a height of 5000 ft to make sure it doesn't reach the groung except in a highly dispersed state. In addition fuel is 'dumped' in small quantities in the flight refuelling process. The aircraft are generally close behind the tanker. Again no problem.

It is more of a piece of mind issue.

26th Dec 2005, 23:25
FAA give guides lines as follows

Separate known aircraft from the aircraft dumping fuel as follows:

IFR aircraft by one of the following:
1. 1,000 feet above it; or in accordance with Vertical Separation Minima, whichever is greater.

2. 2,000 feet below it.

3. 5 miles radar.

4. 5 miles laterally.

Info taken from here (http://www.faa.gov/ATpubs/ATC/Chp9/atc0905.html)

27th Dec 2005, 08:30
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that "Anywhere over France" is the designated European fuel dumping zone.

27th Dec 2005, 13:33
Used to do "dump loops" :) in single seat RAF type i.e. turn dumps on, do a loop and "join the trail" and fly in the (still visible) fuel. JPT/EGT went up a few degrees. Complete non-event...

I would have thought apply normal separation would suffice...


Lon More
27th Dec 2005, 13:34
From memory in Maastricht UAC airspace, pretty much as Engineer said, plus where possible over water, 2000ft vertical sep. below the aircraft dumping. Advice to use greater sep. than minimum as the dumping a/c may switch off R/T and transponders.

(Amaxing how quickly one forgets these things; two years ago I could have quoted chapter and verse)

Warped Factor
27th Dec 2005, 16:16
UK MATS Pt 1, with regards separation, just says...

A vertical separation of at least 1000 feet between aircraft should be maintained.


27th Dec 2005, 18:28
Sometimes intake of fuel will cause more than just a "hick-up." Back in 1983 one of our A-4s blew up due to fuel ingestion while tanking off a KC-135. That particular A-4 had a straight probe which put it right in front of the intake. We modified all our A-4s to bent probes after that mishap. (P.S. both guys made it out OK)

28th Dec 2005, 01:38
Airbus Recomend
5000ft AGL or above.
When jettison is performed,avoid flying into the jettisoned flow (which is descending at about 500 feet/min)

28th Dec 2005, 09:41
However, if time is critical - dump it. Do not waste precious time getting holds setup with ATC, heading to the official dump area, ATC instructed altitude etc etc etc.

28th Dec 2005, 10:06
What are the fuel dumping rates/flows? My aircraft does not have the capability (i.e. not needed at max TOW). But if you need to loose 50 or 5 tonnes, how fast can you achieve it?

Yours FD
(the un-real)

28th Dec 2005, 10:51
2 to 3 Tonnes per minute

28th Dec 2005, 11:01
This may or may not be apocryphal but I still like the story of the large american twin jet that had an engine failure off 27R at LHR. He called to ATC with something like "Climbing straight ahead and dumping."

ATC now in a spin as that meant the twin would dump fuel all over Windsor Castle with HM in residence so ATC advised twin jet accordingly and asked them not to dump.

The reply from the twin?

"Sir, does she want some of it or all of it?"

Moral of the story?

As Rhino says. If you really need to lose it - let it go!

28th Dec 2005, 14:28
Even flying directly into a dump stream would not cause much concern. Any fuel passing through the intake would be in small quantity and would pass through the burner section much like rain. Fuel is diffused almost immediately into vapor further reducing any impact on an aircraft flying through it.

I wouldn't give much thought to area traffic taking any risk from fuel being dumped by a distressed aircraft. Of more concern would be the nature of the emergency's effect on the aircraft maintaining its cleared flight path.

28th Dec 2005, 20:28
As Rhino says. If you really need to lose it - let it go! :yuk:
I've been a ground victim of this some years ago.
I live approx 5 miles crow flight slightly left of centre of LGW 26L and had the misfortune to be in the garden when a TransAero A300 came grinding over obviously struggling to gain height on one engine. I estimated that this aircraft was no more than 1500 feet agl. As I looked up I could feel and taste the fuel it was dumping (it was invisible). The aircraft then flew directly over the town of Horsham, still dumping. I was a little concerned (not least for Mrs Speedpig's washing on the line) and called Gatwick Tower to lodge my first and only ever complaint. I was told by the watch manager that the aircraft was in dire emergency and had no choice but to dump asap. I questioned the wisdom of the aircraft being vectored over a large town in that condition and was told that ATC had no control over where the captain decided to go!!! Is this true?
Fortunately, the aircraft landed safely back at LGW.


28th Dec 2005, 21:58
When the swissair MD11 declared an emergency did dumping fuel delay its attempt at landing ?

break dancer
29th Dec 2005, 08:20
To dump or not to dump, that is the question.

Would it not be the better option to get on the ground with a dire medical emergency if airport etc is suitable? Ditto with a "land at nearest suitable..."?

29th Dec 2005, 08:49

It is true!

Few Cloudy
29th Dec 2005, 08:54
Oct 19. 1970. RAF Marham. Victor K1a tanker. Eng failure on lift off. Fuel jettisoned - heavyweight circuit flown - landed 150,000lbs.

The captain was FC. landing weight indicates that 36,000 lbs fuel were dumped at circuit height 1,500 ft.

Fine drizzle was falling and the good citizens of Swaffham had a very strong smell of AVTUR fuel. A colleague of mine driving to work put out his cigarette. It was a monday and despite the drizzle the good houswives had washing out to air. Most of this had to be rewashed.

On another occasion a fighter tanking fuel broke his probe during fuel transfer. The resulting stream of fuel (immediately behind the basket) doused both his engines (subsequently relit).

As has been pointed out above however, in dry conditions the fuel vapourises quite rapidly. It also gently falls lower initially. I would say, that a good separation to aim for would be the same as is used to allow wake turbulence behind a heavy to dissapate.

29th Dec 2005, 10:59
Break Dancer: You would do both. On most modern aircraft with a switched on crew and a little organisation the seeds of where the nearest suitable airfield is would already be well sown. With no aircraft non normal situation planning a diversion is pretty simple and opening up the fuel jettison is something that can be done while transitting to chosen airfield.

I can only speak for the 777 but it is very simple system that dumps to max land weight automatically, even calculating the fuel burn to the div once the FMC has been programmed which takes about 30 secs.

29th Dec 2005, 15:59
Thanks for the replies.

Am I right in thinking that although you'd rather not fly through dumped fuel it's not the end of the world if you do?

Happy New Year to all our pilot colleagues and I hope to keep all of you safe in the future.


30th Dec 2005, 12:46
A few years ago I had an emergency, we lost one engine due to engine fire number 3 on an A340 with TOW 245t. We had to wait for 2hours before departure because of +TS and just in the rotation the engine fire #3 came on. We had overweight for landing and decided to remain at the departure aerodrome, since all the other airports werent much better or would have had similiar weather on ETA there. We began the fuel dumping procedure when we were zick-zacking between the red spots on the radar. The constant lightning left, right and in front kept us from dumping. We decided for the overweight on a very wet runway. All went fine. Later, on the green table, we got told: Airbus said: The fuel dumping in TS with lightning is safe.
I still wouldn´t dump.

Does anyone got experience with that or knows better ?

1st Jan 2006, 08:06
I've dumped 60+ tonnoes on the 777 once some 8 years back. The fuel gushed out from the nozzle like water from a fire hose. We were on steady radar heading and descending from a rather high altitude. The fume smell in the cabin is actually fairly strong. I would say flying close to the trail of it would be very unpleasent. Dumping in a race track hold would ( I reckon) be dumb.

1st Jan 2006, 08:27

Despite what Airbus engineers might say, who wants to dump fuel in a lightning zone? Some things just aren't right! It's Darwinistic.

I remember the old DC-8 allowed thrust reverser deployment in flight. I saw it on my initial IOE but never used it, and when I became a captain, wouldn't allow it to be used, despite the lack of other drag alternatives as the 8 had no in-flight spoilers and a 230 KIAS gear and flaps limit. If God wanted me to use reversers in flight, He wouldn't have written a memory item in case they didn't retract!

As for fuel dumping, I want to be 5,000 feet above the ground, overwater, or have no option, i.e. the aircraft is going down if I don't dump. I'm not worried at all about other aircraft, although if I were a receiver in pre-contact position on a tanker, different rules would apply, of course.

1st Jan 2006, 10:49
Fuel Dumping? The RAAF have the answer with their F-111, putthe burners on:ok: Never seen it live though.:8

2nd Jan 2006, 15:43
MancBoy - yup, that about sums up my feelings on it - keep me as far away as you can, but if the situation requires you to use your min radar separation then so be it, it won't kill me. It would be very nice to know that we're going to pass close behind/below someone who's dumping though.

A340FO - agree with you entirely. Don't care what Airbus says, dumping in a thunderstorm doesn't sound like a very clever idea. My company ops manaul advises against it.

Some one asked about dumping rates earlier in the thread - A340-300 - 1 ton/minute. A340 -600 - 1.6 ton/minute.

Happy New Year to all.

2nd Jan 2006, 18:08
Don't care what Airbus says, dumping in a
thunderstorm doesn't sound like a very clever ideaWhat are you concerned with?? Do you really see any correlation between a solid stream of cold fuel from a nozzle, cold air and lightning as leading to a fire / explosion??

It is quite difficult to get Avtur to burn in the right circumstances (HP pumps, sprayers / vaporisers etc. into a compressed i.e. hot air scenario). I might expect an untrained passenger to imagine a lightning strike causing a "dumping fuel aircraft" to "explode" but am a little surprised (and disappointed) to see professional pilots succumbing to this viewpoint. IMHO the jettisoning stream at the nozzle could not be ignited, however hard you tried... see the F-111 routine where the full reheat plume can only get the dispersed part of the jettison stream to burn :D

2nd Jan 2006, 18:38
NoD - you might well be right - I'm sure you are - but I'll leave you to do the test flying if you don't mind. Zillions of volts of electrical energy in close proximity to a flammable gas is not a combination that strikes me as a good insurance risk.

Also, now that I've had a chance to follow up the little voice that was nagging in my head - Airbus340FO, where did you get the inforamtion that Airbus says it's ok to dump in a thunderstorm? Both A343 and A346 QRHs, page 2.09, "Fuel Jettison" 9th line from the top of the page say, and I quote "Do not jettison in a thunderstorm". Not much room for misunderstanding there.


3rd Jan 2006, 03:18
F111 dump and burn here. http://anthonyjhicks.com/ajh/media.nsf/go!OpenAgent&protocol=http&id=9C356D6571C5B25DCA256CEC000EF8E5

3rd Jan 2006, 13:49
Navy Adversary,

I have witnessed the RAAF F111 "dump & burn" (when they visited an Airshow at Boscombe Down some years back), the "wave" of heat could be felt easily from the crowdline :eek:

Have also been a pax in an aircraft that dumped once - glad to say we were informed by the Flight Deck when it was going to start and how long it would last (could be an alarming sight otherwise) - from witnessing the spectacular volume at which it comes out, have to say I'm surprised it dissipates so quick.

IIRC, we were told it was 40t in about 25mins (this was an L1011).

Incidentally, thought it was known as "adjusting gross weight" and not "dumping" in these politically-correct times?

capt. skidmark
5th Jan 2006, 12:00
i heard a story from a captain 2 years ago, he once was instructed by greek atc to dump fuel in a holding pattern. the captain obviously replied: unable to comply. after landing he got in a serious discussion with the atc and authorities. at the end he could finally make it clear to them how dangerous such a holding would be.


5th Jan 2006, 14:42
I've got to ask, when was it that you dumped over the midlands? I think you have got some explaining to do!

5th Jan 2006, 15:02
Widger, i hate to state the obvious but check the date of the first post, date 26th and afternoon are the clue!

I'm sure you're only joking?

5th Jan 2006, 17:41

I think the terms Irony and Humour are lost on you old boy!

Picture = buntsfield.................... Obviously too subtle

:ok: :ok:

5th Jan 2006, 17:45
Says you!

I know what the picture was of!

Brian Abraham
6th Jan 2006, 02:51
"I remember the old DC-8 allowed thrust reverser deployment in flight"
Off thread but remember my 3rd ride in a jet (Delta DC-8) as a pax was into Houston amid many, many TS and certainly an impressive big dipper ride with 4 in reverse. Assumed it to be SOP.

6th Jan 2006, 08:49
Have also been a pax in an aircraft that dumped once - glad to say we were informed by the Flight Deck I'd have to agree with this comment. Each time I've had to jettison fuel, I've been lucky enough to be in a position where I was able to make a PA before starting the dump and explain that people behind the wing at a window seat would see 'vapour' coming from the wing as we “lightened the aircraft weight for landing”. (I carefully avoided using the word 'smoke', as English is not the first language of many of my airline's pax, and I class 'smoke' not far beneath the word 'bomb' as being a word to avoid if possible when talking over the PA whilst airborne.)

As for landing overweight -v- jettisoning after an engine failure immediately after takeoff, I have to admit to have given that situation some thought. (I fly a two engined widebody.) All things being equal, (ie, no high terrain in the overshoot area, a 3600m to 4000m runway, as is usually the case at most airports I find myself using these days), I find myself leaning rather heavily towards the overweight landing option.

My reasons? As opposed to the simulator, where the check captain presses a button that gives you a nice, clean-cut “engine severe/separation at V1+1”, in the real world, the most likely reasons that might cause a usually very reliable engine to give up the ghost at V1+1 have a very good chance to affect the other engine as well. Among these I’d include multiple bird strike, contaminated fuel or foreign object damage. This FOD could be from a blown tyre, (either from my own aircraft or an earlier user of the runway), or debris on the runway, as allegedly caused the Concorde disaster at Paris.

Whatever the cause, I think getting back on the ground without a rush, but without undue delay, is a better option over trolling off to a fuel jettison area that might be quite a few miles away from a quick landing should things start to go pear shaped with the other engine or some other vital system. For those who quote the fact that the aircraft is certified for 180 minutes ETOPS, I think that losing an engine in the cruise is a very different matter (for the reasons I quote above) to losing an engine immediately after takeoff.

I also accept that I may have to re-think these ideas when I start to operate ultra long haul twins (as I soon will be), for these will present me with takeoff weights so much above the recommended max landing weight that the approach speeds will be so high that jettisoning might be a ‘must do’ in all cases except something like an uncontrollable fire.

6th Jan 2006, 17:24
About a decade ago had a #1 CADC failure on climbout in a 727. This knocks out the Captain's airspeed, altimeter, vsi, and various functions of the autopilot and makes for a CAT 1 airplane. The departure airfield had the best weather for a hand-flown approach. We were overweight for landing so advised Memphis Center that we had to dump fuel for landing. Their reply was to fly heading 270 and, "Dump over Arkansas." This, of course, during the Clinton presidency and seemed rather appropriate.
By the way, the sim. does a good job of preparing for trhis contingency. As the fuel dumps and you get lighter you can feel the difference while hand flying. Shot the approach, landed, and transloaded the freight onto another airplane.

7th Jan 2006, 10:52
Each time I've had to jettison fuel

How unlucky can you be?

Yakkity MK2
8th Jan 2006, 04:19
From The Canadian Manops ( Bible ) sic.....
A bit of a blurb to find out from Air crew what they require,

Then 701.2
Restrict the aircraft dumping fuel to an altitude 2000 feet or more above the highest obstacle within a horizontal distance of 5 miles of the track to be flown. If necessary , conmsult with the aircraft to determine an appropriate altitude . ( i like that one !!!)

Some more blurb.......about populated areas and constant track , etc...

Then 701.5 ( the fun bit for ATC)

Separate an IFR or a CVFR aircraft from the track of a fuel dumping aircraft by:
A. 10 miles laterally and longitudinally
B. from above ground up to and including 3000 feet ABOVE the altitude of the aircraft dumping fuel, and
C. until 15 minutes after the fuel dumping procedure has been terminated.

Some more blurb about warning messages , etc , etc.

I was lucky enough to practise this in the Sim. during my recent annual recurrent training :} , not pleasant, considering the vast amount of airspace to be protected. Oh and btw i work in a terminal :)