Several years ago when AA started non-stop BOS-BDA (Bermuda) they elected to use the A-300, which for AA, was a relatively new aircraft at the time.
The inaugural flight was amazing -- AA had a massive party at BOS with all sorts of famous Bostonians and politicians out to the gala send-off. The flight was being manned by AA's chief pilot at the time and his first officer.
Anyway, the aircraft departed and the send off was a hit. Yet, several hours into the flight, the crew began to notice a considerable drop in their fuel payload -- enough to cause alarm to the crew and a need to declare an emergency divert.
Out over the Atlantic, the flight crew realized that there was simply no location close enough for them to divert to -- Miami was out of range, as was any city along the eastern seaboard (i.e, RDU). The crew elected to prepare for a ditching.
As flight attendants prepared the cabin for ditching, the capt and f/o dropped to a lower altitutde, pulled back the throttle and started working on figuring out where the problem was coming from. They quickly got on the radio and began calling out to other aircraft in the area who may know something about where the problem could be stemming from.
Luckily, I believe it was an Eastern Airlines A-300 pilot who came over the radio and began explaining to the AA crew about a similar incident he'd experienced. After much discussion, the AA captain decided that he would follow the Eastern pilots lead (since he didn't have too many options left) and shut down one of the engines, hoping that it would solve the problem. Unsure of which engine the leak could possibly be coming from, he choose one and went with it.
Yes! It was the right one! The correct engine was shut down and the leak was stopped! The A-300 then continued on to their final destination.
Now, what I believe had happened was a mechanic had been working on one of the A-300's engines back in BOS and had accidently dropped one of the screws for the outer cowling of the engine inside the engine. Unable to find it after searching, the mechanic let the screw go unfound and simply used an extra one from maintenance.
What the maintenance person didn't know, however, was the the screw had fallen down inside the engine and was sitting on one of the fuel lines. Apparently when the engine was started up by the crew, the screw flew around and snapped one of the fuel lines -- not enough to be noticed but enough that over the long-haul of the flight, fuel would drop significantly.
Fortunatley, they were able to find out what happened and prevent this sort of thing from occurring any longer.
Ok, now, this is what I understand from the incident, I'm sure there are other details that I have left out -- possibly some very significant ones. I would like it very much if anyone knows anything else about this incident to please add and further our understanding. Thanks!
Photo © Joe Fernandez - Aviation Photography Of Miami