Posts: 96
Joined: Tue May 25, 1999 7:15 am


Wed Aug 25, 1999 9:23 am

The 23 of August I was in Corfù (Greece) waiting for my plane. The passengers of the flight to Gatwick (A-320 Airtours G-VCED) had to return to the gate just a couple of minutes after boarding. It has been announced that the changed weather conditions in the airport prevented the plane to leave with such an heavy load and that the plane should have been "defueled".
Actually by the plane there were also the fire guards and a fuel tank. Is it a standard procedure (as opposed to reducing the luggage load, for example)?
And why other planes left without any apparent problem? (including mine, a 757 to Manchester, a bit more far away than Gatwick and fully loaded that left 20 minutes later)?
As anybody a clue?
Posts: 448
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 1999 8:12 am

RE: Defueling

Wed Aug 25, 1999 10:59 am

Well, I do know that if there are excessive or unexpected headwinds reported on a route, flights awaiting departure may have to have more fuel boarded. This usually means that cargo and mail is off-loaded to make up the difference in weight.

If fuel is put on or taken off an aircraft while passengers are on board (termed 'hot-fueling'), most airports require the airline to contact the airport fire rescue service to have them 'stand by'.

Hope this helps!

RE: Defueling

Wed Aug 25, 1999 11:03 am

I would guess so if you are playing with fuel and a plane full of people. I have defueled once in a 172 and the guy that did mine was on his on and was very quiet.

RE: Defueling

Wed Aug 25, 1999 11:10 am

It sounds like someone messed up. Maybe it was a ramp-release based on an inaccurate forecast; or it could have been a fueler who accidentally put too much fuel onboard. It is conceivable that the temperature went significantly above what they expected (was it particularly hot that day?).

It sounds like they were lying to the passengers, though, because they wouldn't have put all that fuel on unless there were a reason like bad weather at the destination. If this was the case, they would have been planning on that fuel weight from the beginning and they would not have been able to load all the baggage. If the weather had cleared up at the destination, they would not remove fuel, because that it more expensive than carrying the extra weight. Fuel that is removed from airplanes cannot be used again in an airplane. It must be sold on a secondary market for non-aviation purposes. ($$$)

So, if it got really hot they were telling the truth, but if not, they were lying so everyone would not start whining like a bunch of babies.

As for your 757 leaving on time, it could be because the 757 is a more capable aircraft or it could be because your airline didn't screw up the weight & balance.
Posts: 438
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 11:24 am

Hot Fueling.

Wed Aug 25, 1999 11:14 am

I have been on a few flights when the captain requested more fuel while we were on board. All four times were on a TWA Express, flights 2 times in st louis and 2 in Birmingham (ALA). I dont remember there being any fire crews there other than the fuel guy and the little fire supressor. Probably not the smartest thing to do since two of the times the planes were full ATR-72s.
Boy that would have been a mess we wont even go there.

Posts: 3094
Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 6:40 am

Now For The Truth..

Wed Aug 25, 1999 1:21 pm

All aircraft models have what is called runway analysis, and it states the weights at which the plane can land on a particualr runway at a particular airport. Weather factors dictate certain conditions such as what runway will be in use, and weather the runway is wet or dry.

A dispatcher looks at the weather and determines what runway will be in use and determines to the best of his ability weather the runway wil be wet or dry.

If the plane was originally dispatched to runway 34 which was dry and expected to be dry at the time of arrival the runway analysis will tell the dispatcher the max landing weight for the said aircraft on that runway.

If before the plane takes off an updated weather report comes in and states the runway is expected to be wet at ATA then the plane must then be defueled to be legal for that runway.


Wed Aug 25, 1999 1:34 pm

I was not wrong!! hehe. But about the dispatch. Do they go on an average body weight? As if they do maybe there was a special Weight whatchers meeting in the UK and all these over weight people came on board and the pilot thought the average body weight had been exceeded and got fuel taken out. I was on a flight where the asked passengers to leave it was a great deal 2 free tickets anywhere Alaske flew.
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Defueling

Wed Aug 25, 1999 1:48 pm

Most of the time I have seen or helped de-fuel an aircraft. It was for one of two reasons. Either A. The tanks needed to be emptied for maintaince. This usually doesn't happen anywhere other then the hanger. Or B. There was some sort of mistake made in getting the fuel load to the fueler. I remember getting a half hour delay on a 737-200 when I was working for Alaska. The dispatcher for that flight gave the wrong load over the radio to the ramp lead to forward to the fueler. Decimal place mistakes are really common too.

The fire truck is a precaution required at most airports. Also usually it is a engine that is carring AFF (Aquarious Fighting Foam.) If a spill does occur it can spray it down on the spill an help contain both the spilled fuel and any fumes that may be comming off the fuel. That is the real fire danger. Actually defueling an aircraft generally isn't that hard of a deal. This is another single point attachment on the aircraft and the aircrafts own fuel pumps pump it in the a tanker. Or you can do it on a gravity feed aircraft with a piece of hose. Just like siphoning gas out of a car.

RE: Defueling

Thu Aug 26, 1999 9:45 pm

One last idea for the defueling. My airline will sometimes "tanker" fuel to certain destinations where fueling for the next flight is more expensive than just carrying some extra from the originating city/country. If an aircraft only uses half a full fuel load to get to someplace where fuel costs are very high, then it might be more economical to carry a full load from the start, then they just add any small extra amount needed to continue on from the city/country where the fuel costs so much more. It's a bit of a pain for the fueler when operations requests them to include a fuel amount for "tankering", but if it will save the airline money in fuel costs, it's worth it.

It's possible this was why your flight had actually been overfueled to start with. Then when conditions changed and MTOW became an issue, it is simply a matter of defueling enough to meet the MTOW limits, instead of inconveniencing passengers (unhappy customers) by reducing the baggage load. I'm not saying this IS what happened, just suggesting another alternative reason for what happened.
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

A&P Mech, Ferrying Fuel

Thu Aug 26, 1999 10:32 pm

Good thing you mentioned that because I forgot. Reeve Aleutian does that with Lockheed Electras when they flying into Port Heiden, Alaska (PTH).

RE: Defueling/Hotfueling

Fri Aug 27, 1999 4:21 am

Hot fueling has nothing to do with fueling while passengers are on board. I fuel all the time when people are on the planes, hot fueling is when you fuel the A/C with one or more of the enigines still running which is a very stupid thing to do.

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