What to do when...

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RatherBFlyin
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What to do when...

Post by RatherBFlyin » 18 Jul 2009, 04:28

So I was beginning a flight tonight from Cincinnati to Atlanta, and I noticed that the fuel in the left tank was dropping incredibly quickly as I was climbing through 15,000 feet. I turned back to Cincinnati and landed without any trouble, but it got me to thinking. What would be the proper procedure after landing with an actual or suspected fuel leak?

1) Clear the runway, shut down and deplane, then wait for cleanup crews.
Pros: Only one area to check for fuel spill and hazmat cleanup.
Passengers and crew can evacuate the aircraft quickly and move away to a safe distance.
Cons: Evacuation slides must be used, expensive to replace/repack them.
Passengers must be kept from wandering off in a movement area of an active airport.
Transportation must be arranged for passengers and crew back to the terminal, as well as maintenance personnel out to the aircraft.
Aircraft must be secured and towed to maintenance area once leak is stopped.

2) Taxi in to the gates/remote stand.
Pros: Passengers can easily deplane and go straight into the terminal/onto waiting buses.
Maintenance personnel have easy/immediate access to the aircraft.
Cons: Potential trail of spilled fuel all across the airport that requires hazmat cleanup.
Increased risk of fire from spilled fuel while passengers and crew are still on board.

From personal experience I know that while an active fuel leak is happening, no electrical power can be applied to an aircraft, and starting/running any engines is usually not a good idea. Having said that, I am sort of leaning towards option number 1. However, option number 2 could be argued for as well since steps could be taken to mitigate the cons.

I asked the VATSIM controller who was handling Indianapolis Center during my flight, and he said that he wasn't sure what the proper procedure should be in that case.

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Aaron Robinson
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Re: What to do when...

Post by Aaron Robinson » 18 Jul 2009, 04:47

A third option: shut down the engines, switch to APU, and be towed in to the gate.
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RatherBFlyin
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Re: What to do when...

Post by RatherBFlyin » 18 Jul 2009, 05:14

Option 3 is possible, but you would still have electrical power on an aircraft that is leaking fuel (potential fire hazard) and you still run the risk of leaving a trail of fuel across the airport for the hazmat crews to clean up. Again, those cons could be mitigated just as with option 2.

The one instance when I was involved with a massive fuel leak, our only concern was controlling the spread of the fuel. Other than that, we were just waiting for the leak to run its course (attempts to plug the leak were unsuccessful). However, this occurred with an aircraft that was already parked at a maintenance hangar, and there was no one on board and no electrical power on the aircraft.

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Eagle737
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Re: What to do when...

Post by Eagle737 » 29 Jul 2009, 19:41

The on the ground part is the least of my worries if I were in your shoes IRL... my first priority is getting on the ground, and something FS doesn't take into account are real life aircraft limitations... on the ERJ max fuel imbalance between sides is only 800 lbs... So, as a pro. pilot... with a fuel leak, first place to go: QRH... see what it says; get mx involved; and next, you'll probably be cross feeding (unlike what it sounds, most aircraft don't crossfeed fuel tank to tank) off and on to get the balance on fuel right if at all possible... but once on the ground... frankly... I don't care what happens.... pilot's job in that situation will end after a nice roll out and talk to tower and see what they want... they may just have you exit and sit on a taxiway and let mx come out and buses come out... who knows, and real world, wouldn't care... Ground stuff is the easy stuff...
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