Have you ever been in a plane that just took off the runway and had an emergency landing? Did you ever wonder why the plane made circles in the sky or just dump its fuel in the atmosphere before landing? Why did the pilot made a huge loss by dumping tons of fuel into the atmosphere? Why didn’t he just land without dumping the fuel? Is it worth it to afford that loss before landing? Let’s find out the answers for why do airplanes dump fuel mid air
Airplanes use Jet fuel to run its engines and carry the fuel in its wings. A Boeing 737 has a fuel capacity of 6800 gallons which can weigh up to 18 tons which is the weight of 4 elephants. This jet fuel costs almost 600$ per ton and it can burn 2.5 tons of fuel in an hour which would cost 1500$ per hour flight. So the fuel it carries is heavy and costly.
But the fuel dumping is considered as the cheapest way compared to other alternatives in such situations. Airplanes should weigh lighter when they land than when they takeoff. This usually happens automatically as they calculate the travel distance and fuel the tank accordingly considering all the situations of emergencies and when they reach the destination they become lighter and safer to touch the ground
why Airplane needs to become lighter to make Safe Landing?
As we know the heavyweight of Airplanes with tons of fuel in the tanks, if they land in such weights they experience a huge stress that the repairs become more expensive than the fuel in it. There are also possibilities that it can crash land and end up in a huge disaster taking the lives of passengers in it.
To avoid such disasters, airplanes do their effort to become lighter and lighter before they land. The process of fuel dumping does not happen often and is considered only in high emergencies.
If there is such high emergency, It is so easy simple for a pilot that he can just push a button and dump tons of fuel into the atmosphere making the plane lighter and safer to land.
Is it safe to dump such high amount of fuel into Atmosphere?
You might be wondering that the dumped fuel can hit your head and put you in danger. But, that doesn’t happen as they follow the rules and dump the fuel at almost 5000ft of altitude guided by ATC which after dumping, all the fuel gets evaporated and not even a single drop touches the ground.
This may have the same effect on the atmosphere by burning the fuel while travelling to its destination and does not affect much to the environment than the normal flight burning the same fuel
Not all planes have this complicated design and for them, the only way is to circle around a number of times to burn fuel or to land overweight and face the consequences of heavy repairs and disasters.
To avoid all such consequences the pilots dump the fuel and with the help of ATC to avoid any mistakes. So dumping fuel is the most economic way of saving several lives in an emergency and avoiding disasters.
You can comment on your thoughts if you have seen any contrails while fuel dumping procedure and also you can go through our interesting post on How noise-canceling headphones work? till your thoughts strike