Saturday, May 20, 2006

Something else to worry about...

[See previous]

A little scary - a 747 needs to land immediately after takeoff, so it dumps 200,000 pounds of fuel to get down to a safe landing weight.

plane fuel release

That's maybe 30,000 gallons of fuel - enough to fill a big swimming pool.

I guess that this happens quite often when planes have to make emergency landings. I am thinking that with enough altitude and speed the fuel probably vaporizes and doesn't come crashing to the ground in bucket-fulls.
I was returning from the CeBIT expo in Germany several years ago and our 747 blew an engine on takeoff. It was pretty scary, but there was no fire and the aircraft was stable in flight. As soon as the flight crew determined the problem, they were ordered to spend the next two hours flying a very wide pattern over the black forest while dumping fuel. The idea being that if you are high enough, the fuel is distributed over a wide enough area to be nothing more and a slight increase in smog.
You have to do it or else the wings rip off and your in a fireball.

Luckily they got away from gasoline by moving from props to jets. Kerosine is cheaper.

Catapult launch systems for cargo planes would reduce the fuel needed for takeoff and reduce the weight by externalizing the power.

This will happen with robotic cargo planes.
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