Overweight? Take a lap around JFK

 
Old Jan 14, 04, 8:17 pm
  #1  
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Overweight? Take a lap around JFK

I was on AA 177 JFK-SFO on Sunday, January 11. We experienced something new on AA!

The inbound 767 was late from SFO by 1 hr. Departure was pushed back accordingly. We loaded and pushed back from the gate at 7:45PM - original departure was 6:45PM.

We pushed back and then sat there. The captain came on the PA and said that he was having a disagreement with the crew chief and would get back to us.

Five minutes later, he came back on the PA and said that we were returning to the gate to check the weight of the plane and that the crew chief thought we were overweight.

Another ten minutes pass and we push back again and begin to taxi.

The captain then announces that we are 1800 pounds overweight and that we were going to burn 1800 lbs of fuel prior to takeoff - we didn't need the fuel with the flight plan and weather that we had and they didn't want to offload cargo (read: luggage).

So, we took a lap around JFK - a long lap (I think we were on the Van Wyck) and then held short of the runway, put on the brakes, and ran the engines for 15 minutes to burn off the additional fuel. Then we took off. Total delay: 2hrs.

This was completely new to the flight crew ("I've never seen this before") and somewhat confusing to passengers who had dozed off before the extended taxi. People woke up and looked confused as it *felt* like we were flying but were still on the ground.

Has anyone else ever experienced this?

-m



[This message has been edited by msilano (edited Jan 14, 2004).]
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Old Jan 14, 04, 8:27 pm
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Never happened to me.

But how is a 767 weighed at the gate? That must be some scale.
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Old Jan 14, 04, 9:50 pm
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The FAA sets a weight for every passenger. They calculate that and add it to the cargo weight. They probably returned to the gate to double check their math.

I think if a flight is overweight, they unload cargo or load less fuel quietly and the passengers don't even know.

[This message has been edited by tekelberry (edited Jan 14, 2004).]
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Old Jan 14, 04, 10:57 pm
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Interesting that a lap around the airport plus some idling could use so much fuel. I wouldn't think the engines could be turned up to anything near full power when just taxiing, or when trying to stand still (poor brakes to have to negate with the force of the engines!). And the engines actually consume that much fuel when basically not being used?

I guess just pumping some fuel out of the tanks was out of the question?!
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Old Jan 15, 04, 12:27 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by bedelman:
I guess just pumping some fuel out of the tanks was out of the question?!</font>
That would be too easy.
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Old Jan 15, 04, 2:15 am
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Jet engines are inefficient at low speeds because they lack the compression the turbo fan can generate when at crusing speed. They can consume much more fuel on the ground than when at crusing altitude.

It's generally not a good idea to empty the tanks, as impurities in the aircraft's tanks could contaminate the fuel supply. At other airports, it might not even be possible, as they lack the equipment to do so.
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Old Jan 15, 04, 2:21 am
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Why not burn the fuel off in the air during a holding pattern before landing if necessary? What if that were to get stuck in a pattern anyway and they were to wish they had kept that extra fuel?
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Old Jan 15, 04, 2:24 am
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Thank you. I was worried you were going to say that AA had pulled a 'Southwest' and was charging overweight pax for 2 seats. whewwwwwww

(not that I need 2 seats, thank goodness)

------------------
YAS+
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Old Jan 15, 04, 4:39 am
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I've had this happen once, when Eagle was flying IND-MIA with the ERJ-145. The plane was overweight with an almost full load, so they decided to run up the engines for 15-20 minutes at the end of the runway before departure... Between that and Eagle's remote parking at MIA, I almost missed my connection to ORD - they actually reopened the gate door to let me on board!
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Old Jan 15, 04, 5:24 am
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There is a maximum weight that an aircraft can take off. If you're over the maximum weight, the plane cannot aerodynamically support the weight and cannot take off. Remember the US Airways Express flight that crashed on takeoff in CLT. That flight was believed to be overweight.

<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by grouse:
Why not burn the fuel off in the air during a holding pattern before landing if necessary? What if that were to get stuck in a pattern anyway and they were to wish they had kept that extra fuel?</font>
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Old Jan 15, 04, 8:44 am
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I was on an AA commuter flight some time ago, probably LGA-BOS on a $99 roundtrip cheapie. These were the days AA flew the propellers on this route. The flight was overweight so they offered $250 for three volunteers to catch a later flight.

That was my introduction into the wonderful world of volunteer bumping!

I would have thought it would have been cheaper to do that in the case of the OP as opposed to burning 1800 lbs of fuel.

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Old Jan 15, 04, 9:17 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Ksimp:
...I would have thought it would have been cheaper to do that in the case of the OP as opposed to burning 1800 lbs of fuel.</font>
1800 lbs. of fuel, at 6.84 lbs./gal., is about 263 gallons. Jet fuel costs a bit under 83/gal. these days, so the fuel they burned cost under $220.

So, unless they could have found 10-12 volunteers for $20 apiece, not too likely, burning fuel was cheaper. (It bothers me too, in both its environmental and its general waste aspects, but they still made the right decision on a cost basis.)
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Old Jan 15, 04, 9:37 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by burgerwars:
Never happened to me.

But how is a 767 weighed at the gate? That must be some scale.
</font>
A formula is used, assigning an assumed weight for each passenger or for each piece of checked luggage. (BTW, because of the obesity epidemic in the U.S., the FAA recently increased the assumed weight assigned to each passenger.)

I have been on a flight on which feul was offloaded, and on which passengers were bumped, but have never seen the burn-off tehcnique.
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Old Jan 15, 04, 9:48 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by Blumie:
I have been on a flight on which feul was offloaded, and on which passengers were bumped, but have never seen the burn-off tehcnique.</font>
I was on an AA-operated Fokker F-100 from SAT to ORD a few years ago where we has a situation similar to that of msilano and T/BE20/G. We sat on the tarmac for approximately 15-20 minutes while the pilots ran the engines to burn fuel.

It does make you wonder what caused the miscalculation in filling up the tanks. Was it late arriving passengers? Unexpected cargo? Bad math?
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Old Jan 15, 04, 9:54 am
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<font face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" size="2">Originally posted by cAAl:
It does make you wonder what caused the miscalculation in filling up the tanks. Was it late arriving passengers? Unexpected cargo? Bad math?</font>
I think it's a timing issue. The fuel typically is ordered and loaded before all the passengers, baggage and cargo are loaded. Obviously, in most cases the airlines have a very good idea what to expect in terms of load factor, but sometimes they get it wrong.
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