Hi Fly Airbus A340 Soaks Runway In Fuel During Emergency Landing

A Hi Fly Airbus A340 was forced to return to Orlando following a hydraulic failure last weekend. The incident prompted a runway closure as fuel from the aircraft was cleared up.

Hi Fly Airbus A340 Emergency Landing
A Hi Fly Airbus A340 was forced to return to Orlando with hydraulic issues. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia

Thankfully, it appears that nobody was hurt in Saturday’s incident. However, given photos on Twitter of the landing, it likely would’ve been an unnerving view for anybody occupying a window seat. It appears as though the pilots may have forgotten to shut off the fuel dump switch before touching down. As a result, Jet-A1 fuel is reported to have covered a runway, necessitating a closure.

So what happened?

Given that its Boeing 737 MAX fleet and some of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet is currently grounded, Norwegian is currently having to lease a number of aircraft to make up the numbers. One of these aircraft is Hi Fly’s Airbus A340, 9H-SUN, which is being wet-leased. On Saturday it was scheduled to fly from Orlando to London.

The aircraft was scheduled to depart from Orlando at 17:05. However, as always seems to be the case with these types of incidents, the aircraft departed late. In this instance, the flight departed at 18:51 local time.

Hi Fly Airbus A340 Emergency Landing
The aircraft had reached its cruising altitude of 35,000ft. Image: FlightRadar24.com

After departure, the aircraft climbed to a height of 35,000ft. However, a hydraulics warning displayed over the Atlantic, prompting the aircraft to turn around. The aircraft was far too heavy to land, as it was fueled for a transatlantic crossing. As a result, the aircraft circled over the Atlantic for a while to dump fuel.

This is where the story gets interesting, as it appears that the pilots may have forgotten to tell the aircraft to stop dumping fuel before coming into land. Photos on Twitter show fuel gushing out from the wing while the aircraft is on the runway.

How could this happen?

You may be thinking that surely the pilot’s fuel dump check-list states that they should stop dumping fuel. While I haven’t seen the relevant checklist, common sense would assume it would. While most pilots train to dump fuel, consider how many flights have to actually carry out this manoeuvre.

It’s possible that the pilots simply forgot to stop ejecting fuel. It is also possible that there was a problem with the aircraft preventing this from happening. We will find out in due course, no doubt, as the Orlando Sentinel reports that the FAA is investigating the incident. Additionally, they state that “airport officials are assessing costs for cleaning up runway and taxiway surfaces”.

Fuel is not the easiest thing to contain, and no doubt was tricky and costly to clean up from tarmac. Thankfully the spillage has now been dealt with. Simple Flying has contacted a representative of Hi Fly.

Who do you think should foot the bill of cleaning the fuel? Let us know in the comments!