US Listen: Radio call to control tower raises questions about why jet fuel was dumped over Cudahy
Students Treated for Skin Irritation After Apparent Fuel-Dump From Plane Over School
About 20 students were treated by firefighter Tuesday after a plane that was approaching Los Angeles International Airport dumped fuel over a nearby community. Firefighters responded to an elementary school playground in the 8000 block of Park Avenue in Cudahy, about 15 miles east of LAX. About 20 students complained of skin irritation after the fuel dump, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. No one was transported to the hospital. Aerial video showed several ambulances at Park Avenue Elementary School. Details about why the plane dumped fuel were not immediately available. This story uses functionality that may not work in our app.
A Delta Air Lines pilot was roughly five minutes into a flight from Los Angeles International Airport en route to Shanghai on Tuesday when he radioed to the airport control tower that he was having problems with the right engine on the jetliner.
"We have an emergency at this time," the pilot says calmly, according to a recording obtained at LiveATC.net, a website that streams and archives air traffic control audio. "We need to return to LAX for [an] engine compressor stall."
Officials: Jet fuel lands on Los Angeles school playgrounds
CUDAHY, Calif. (AP) — Fuel dumped by an airliner making an emergency return Tuesday to Los Angeles International Airport due to an engine problem fell onto three schools, causing minor irritation to 40 children and adults, officials said. The incident occurred around noon in the Cudahy area of southeastern Los Angeles County, about 13 miles (21 kilometers east of the airport. Los Angeles Unified School District police Sgt. Rudy Perez said 28 students and adults were affected at Park Avenue Elementary and 12 others at 93rd Street Elementary, but none needed to be taken to hospitals.Jordan High was also affected but no one was treated there, he said.
Less than a minute later, a controller asks whether the pilot needs to return to the airport immediately or needs to "hold to burn fuel." The pilot responds that they've "got it back under control," will slow down, stay out of terrain and turn back to the airport. The controller asks about fuel again.
"OK, so you don't need to hold to dump fuel or anything like that?" he asks the pilot. The pilot responds: "Negative."
Yet less than 20 minutes later the jet, flying at about 2,300 feet,, dousing schoolchildren on the playground and that's been at the center of environmental injustices for decades in Los Angeles County. Dozens of people — — were treated by paramedics, but no one was seriously injured.
Elementary school kids doused as jet dumps fuel before emergency landing at LAX
An airplane returning to Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday morning dropped jet fuel onto a school playground, dousing several students at Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy, officials said. Photo gallery by photo services
Communications between air traffic controllers and the pilot raise questions about why the plane's main operator chose to dump fuel over the residential area minutes before descending into LAX.
During emergency situations, air crews will typically notify air traffic control and indicate they need to dump fuel. The controllers will then direct a plane to the appropriate fuel-dumping area. This did not happen during Tuesday's brief flight, according to officials with the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the incident.
When pilots dump fuel, they typically try to do so above 10,000 feet and over a body of water, such as an ocean, but ideally it should be done at higher elevations so the fuel will turn into mist and dissipate, away from populated areas.
"In this emergency situation, the fuel-dumping procedure did not occur at an optimal altitude that would have allowed the fuel to atomize properly," the FAA said in a statement.
FAA: Delta pilots didn't seek permission before dumping fuel that rained on school kids
The Delta pilots who bombarded elementary school playgrounds with jet fuel probably did what needed to be done to land safely, an expert says.The Delta pilots who bombarded elementary school playgrounds with jet fuel before making an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport failed to notify air traffic control of the need to jettison fuel and did not dump it at an optimal altitude, the FAA said Wednesday.
Delta spokesperson Adrian Gee said Tuesday the pilot was forced to dump fuel over an urban area to reduce the plane's weight before the return landing. It was not immediately clear how much fuel was dropped or what happened between the pilot's last public communications with air traffic control and the time he
Delta did not respond Wednesday to a request from The Times for further information.
Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, said fuel dumping is very rare and is used only in case of emergencies or if pilots have to reach a safe landing weight.
"Most pilots choose not to dump fuel unless the emergency really dictates it," Aimer said.
In Tuesday's incident, the plane was experiencing a compressor stall, according to transmissions between the pilot and the airport tower as well as a radio call the Los Angeles Fire Department received at 11:47 a.m.
"We have a Boeing triple 7, call sign Delta 89, reporting a compressor stall, 181 souls on board, 12 hours of fuel, ETA less than five minutes," an LAFD firefighter said.
LAUSD Teachers Affected By Jet Fuel Dump To File Lawsuit With Gloria Allred
In audio obtained by CBS News, the pilots are heard telling LAX air traffic control the plane would not need to dump fuel, which it subsequently did. According to Delta, the plane began dropping fuel at an elevation of 8,000 feet and continued at least until it hit the 2,300-foot mark. The FAA confirmed to CBS News it also found that the Delta crew did not tell air traffic control the plane needed to dump fuel.Air crews will typically notify controllers of an emergency and indicate the need to dump fuel. Controllers, in turn, will then direct the plane to an area appropriate for such action.
When the compressor of a plane's engine stalls, it can cause a loss of airflow through an engine, which can cause the engine to fail.
However, compressor stalls are relatively common and aren't typically considered a dire emergency that would necessitate an immediate landing, according to safety expert and aviation consultant Richard Ditchey.
"Dumping is literally a toggle-switch. How much fuel you dump is a decision that the captain or ground control would make," he said.
Whether the instruction to release the fuel came from ground control at Delta operations, the ultimate decision-maker would be the pilot, who would have been aware he was flying over a residential area rather than the ocean or other unpopulated area, Ditchey said.
At one point in the audio communications, the pilot tells ground control that 181 people, including crew members, are aboard the plane. According to Seat Guru, a site that tracks the layout of planes, that number would have meant the flight was about two-thirds full.
If that was the case, Ditchey said, it would suggest that a decrease in weight would not have been a major issue because the plane was not at maximum capacity.
The fuel dump has raised concerns about environmental safety in the flight path over Cudahy and other cities.
"Sadly, our entire community has been adversely impacted by this incident, including dozens of children. I am calling for a full federal investigation into the matter, and expect full accountability from responsible parties," Cudahy City Council Member Jack Guerrero said.
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Delta jet fuel dump unlikely to cause long-term health problems, experts say .
LOS ANGELES - It's been days since a Delta jet experiencing engine trouble showered homes and schools in southeast Los Angeles with fuel, but Aldo Mauricio has continued to have difficulty breathing. Mauricio lives on Santa Ana Street in Cudahy just a few hundred feet from Park Avenue Elementary, where more than a dozen schoolchildren and teachers were treated after being doused with jet fuel. He says he has suffered from allergies for years, but his lingering breathing issues have made him nervous.