A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 dumped fuel that fell on a Los Angeles-area school as it returned to LAX after an “engine issue” today. The flight, headed for Shanghai, had an undisclosed engine issue after departure and had to dump fuel to achieve landing weight. Los Angeles County Fire dispatched more than 70 firefighters and paramedics to the Park School Elementary school to treat 17 children and nine adults. None required hospitalization.
In addition, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that all together some 60 individuals were treated, 20 of them children, at this school and other locations along the flight path of the Delta flight. None of the other affected individuals required hospitalization.
“Shortly after takeoff, Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after an emergency fuel release to reduce landing weight,” a Delta spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times.
The Park school is the city of Cudahy, about 13 miles east of LAX and on the approach to the runways typically in use. Park sixth grader Josue Burgos told the LA Times, “We came out and we were playing, and the airplane was outside and we thought it was rain, but then we knew it was throwing gas on us, and everybody started to run. We went to the auditorium and we knew what happened. We went back to class. We stayed for one hour and then we went home.”
Late Tuesday night, Delta issued this statement: “Shortly after takeoff, Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight. Delta is in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the LA County Fire Department as well as community leaders, and shares concerns regarding reports of minor injuries to adults and children at schools in the area.”
According to reports, the FAA will be investigating the incident. “The FAA is thoroughly investigating the circumstances behind today’s incident involving a Delta Air Lines flight that was returning to Los Angeles International Airport. There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major US airport. These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground,” the agency said in a statement.
A Boeing 777-200ER’s maximum landing weight can be some 186,000 pounds lower than its maximum takeoff weight. It’s not known how heavy Delta 89 was at takeoff and, therefore, how much fuel it would have to dump to reach a safe landing weight.
The flight landed safely at LAX.