2004-02-27 / Front Page

American Airlines Dumps On Rockaway One More Time

By Howard Schwach
American Airlines Dumps On Rockaway One More Time By Howard Schwach

An American Airlines Boeing 777 making its way back to John F. Kennedy Airport with one engine flamed out, dumped aviation fuel as it passed low over the Rockaway peninsula on Sunday afternoon.

American Airlines Flight 167 with 153 passengers and ten crew bound for Tokyo, Japan, was a few minutes into its flight when one of the plane’s engines failed.

Jim Peters, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) said that one of the plane’s engines stalled at takeoff.

"There was a compressor stall on the number one engine (on the port side of the aircraft)," Peters said. "The pilot elected to return to the airport."

While emergency crews from the Port Authority, the New York City Fire Department and the NYPD’s Emer gency Service Unit scrambled to get to the airport before the plane returned, the pilot turned back towards the airport.

As part of the emergency landing procedure, the pilot was ordered to dump fuel over the Atlantic Ocean.

A spokesperson for American Air lines admitted that dumping fuel was part of the procedure, but added that the dumping was done only over water and that "the fuel typically vaporizes as it leaves the plane."

The FAA’s Peters corroborated that fact.

"When pilots elect to return to the airport shortly after taking off, they have to dump fuel as part of the protocol," he said. "The jet fuel, which is a kerosene-based liquid, is very light and it tends to go upwards when it is released."

On Monday, however, at least a dozen Rockaway residents called The Wave to report that they had been drenched with the fuel."

One man driving on Beach Channel Drive told The Wave that there was so much "greasy liquid" on his windshield that he thought the car in front of him had lost its fuel tank."

I pulled over and got out because I could not see anything out of my front windshield," the driver said.

Residents throughout the west end of the peninsula reported a "strong smell of gasoline" shortly after the plane passed over.

"Peters said that he did not believe that the fuel was dumped over Rockaway.

"I don’t know for sure," he said, "but the pilots know to dump the fuel over water and that is what I believe happened in this case."

The plane landed safely at the airport just before 1 p.m. on Sunday.

An American Airlines A300-600 lost its tail and crashed into Belle Harbor on November 12, 2001, killing all 280 passengers and crew as well as five local residents on the ground.

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