News

Delta Dumped Jet Fuel on a Bunch of Elementary School Kids. What. The. Hell.

The pilots may have dumped fuel at a lower altitude than permitted by the FAA.
January 15, 2020, 5:58pm
A Boeing 777-232(ER) passenger plane belonging to the Delta Air Lines taking off at Hong Kong International Airport on August 08 2018.

Children at six LA-area schools were back in class Wednesday, the day after dozens were drenched in jet fuel dumped overhead by a Delta Airlines 777.

But parents and local officials still want answers.

The Delta Boeing 777 dumped its fuel over southeast Los Angeles County as it made an emergency landing on Tuesday, showering at least 60 people. The kids at Park Avenue Elementary in Cudahy, California got it the worst.

“You should have been here when it first happened,” Park Avenue parent Francisco Javier told the Los Angeles Times. “You couldn’t breathe it was so bad. It’s still strong, but not as bad as it was.”

The FAA is investigating the incident.

The children drenched at Park Avenue were forced to change into gowns after their clothes were soaked. Sixty total people, at least 20 of whom were children, were treated for skin irritations and breathing problems, according to the Times.

“I’m very upset,” Cudahy Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar told the L.A. Times. “This is an elementary school, these are small children.”

Alcantar pointed out the fuel was dumped over a predominantly Latino area.

“Why is it always our communities having to deal with the brunt of these issues?” she said.

Park Avenue Elementary fifth-grader Justin Guiti told CNN the fuel splattered all over him and got into his eye.

"Drops of water were coming down. I thought it was a rainbow, and I looked up and it was gasoline," he said.

Engine trouble

Delta Flight 89 was scheduled to fly to Shanghai on Tuesday, but was forced to turn back shortly after takeoff when, according to the airline, the plane experienced an engine issue. But because it was loaded down with fuel for the 14-hour flight, it had to dump a bunch of that fuel to reach a safe landing weight.

Video of the incident shows a plane streaking overhead, the fuel flying out in a long trail behind it.

The plane landed without incident, but flight data shows it never climbed more than about 8,000 feet, which meant the dumped fuel didn’t get the chance to dissipate before reaching the ground.

"There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major U.S. airport," the FAA said in a statement Tuesday. "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 flight on Tuesday lasted just 25 minutes after it reported an engine compressor had stalled, which can often trigger an engine failure. Passenger Tim Lefebvre told the L.A. Times he heard loud popping sounds and soon enough the plane was headed back to the airport.

“It was kind of right next to me,” Lefebvre said. “I knew that wasn’t good. The pilot came on a couple minutes later and said we were going back to LAX, and that was that.”

Cover: A Boeing 777-232(ER) passenger plane belonging to the Delta Air Lines taking off at Hong Kong International Airport on August 08 2018. (Photo by Marcio Rodrigo Machado/S3studioGetty Images)

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

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