Fuel Issues Force American Airlines Boeing 767 To Divert To Frankfurt


On June 13th, an American Airlines Boeing 767-300 flying from Budapest, Hungary to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania made a diversion to Frankfurt (FRA) after suspecting a fuel leak. This is according to an incident report written by The Aviation Herald. Arriving at Frankfurt airport’s runway 25C, the aircraft made a safe landing only 90 minutes after take-off.

The aircraft is 24.4 years old. Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The aircraft was performing flight AA-97 from Budapest to Philadelphia when it had to make its diversion. The route is flown daily by American Airlines, always using a 767-300. The flight is scheduled to last 9 hours and 30 minutes as it takes off from Budapest at 11:25am and arrives in Philadelphia at 3:45pm.

The aircraft was performing flight AA97 from Budapest to Philadelphia.  Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Remaining on the ground for about 3 hours, this particular flight took-off again at 4:13pm finally landing in Philadelphia at 6:46pm, three hours behind schedule.

While a fuel leak was suspected, a commenter on the Aviation Herald website says that it was an uncommanded fuel transfer from the right to the center tank” while another person writes that the issue was unwanted fuel usage from wing instead of center tank.” Unfortunately, neither of these claims have cited their sources.

The flight path of the aircraft N390AA. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

The aircraft

The aircraft in question is a Boeing 767-300 with the registration N390AA. This particular aircraft is 24.4 years old and has been with American Airlines for its entire lifespan, since delivery was taken by the carrier in 1995.

The aircraft is back in the schedule of American Airlines and has already flown from Philadelphia to San Juan. Future trips include flights from Philadelphia to Berlin and Philadelphia to Amsterdam according to FlightRadar24.com.


767s in the news

It wasn’t too long ago that another American Airlines 767 made the news with another aircraft incident. It was late October 2016 when American Airlines flight AA383 had a spectacular engine fire that forced the rapid evacuation of all passengers onboard. 20 passengers and one flight attendant reported suffering non-critical injuries.

Two years later, it was deemed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that a rare failure in a metal-alloy disk was the cause of the fire. The disk broke apart in the General Electric engine on the right side of the plane.

General Electric said the problem had gone undetected for 30 years and that there was only one plane at that time still using a disk from the same batch of alloy.


The NTSB ruled that the internal manufacturing flaw “likely wasn’t possible to detect during manufacture or inspections between flights”.


An American Airlines 767 in its old livery. Photo: Flickr user Aero Icarus

The 767 is an old aircraft and is no longer in production for passenger travel (although Boeing continues to produce freight and military variants). In fact, we recently wrote about how Delta just retired their 767-300 fleet from domestic service.

With some of its 767 fleet exceeding 25 years old, when do you think these planes should retire? Or do you think Boeing should resume production of this widebody plane?