Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 Returns To Frankfurt After Engine Stalls

A Lufthansa Boeing 747 was forced to dump fuel over the German countryside on Sunday the 11th of August. The aircraft suffered a stalled engine on departure from Frankfurt Airport bound for Shanghai.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Fuel Dump
A Lufthansa Boeing 747 returned to Frankfurt after an engine stalled on departure. Photo: Lufthansa

Occasionally aircraft need to return to their airport of origin. For one reason or another, this can range from deflated tires to parts of a wing falling off. However, Lufthansa’s flight to nowhere entry sees a Boeing 747 returning after dumping fuel. The pilot of the aircraft was not prepared to fly to Shanghai with only three engines available after one stalled.

The flight

Lufthansa flight LH732 is the German airline’s scheduled service from Frankfurt to Shanghai. The flight is scheduled to depart from Frankfurt at 22:05, before touching down in Shanghai at 14:50 the next day. However, on Sunday 11th August, the flight departed from Frankfurt around 22:54 according to data from FlightRadar24.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Fuel Dump
The flight returned to Frankfurt around 90 minutes after departure. Photo:

The aircraft was carrying 370 people when, during takeoff, the right inboard engine (3) stalled according to The Aviation Herald. The aircraft then climbed to 18,000 feet in order to dump fuel. According to the aircraft’s flight path, it proceeded to dump fuel over parts of the Hesse countryside in Germany. The flight passed right overhead the Open Flair music festival in Eschwege while dumping fuel, where 20,000 people were in attendance.


Following around 90 minutes in the air, the aircraft touched back down in Frankfurt on the runway from which it had taken off. While the aircraft was followed by the fire brigade on landing, it went on to taxi to a gate where the passengers were offloaded. According to data from Flight Radar, the aircraft (D-ABVU) is still on the ground in Frankfurt two days later. The aircraft that was operating the flight is just over 20 years old and has only flown with Lufthansa.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Fuel Dump
The aircraft went on to land safely in Frankfurt. Photo: Lufthansa

Lufthansa’s response

Simple Flying reached out to Lufthansa. In response to our request for comment, a representative told us:


“Lufthansa flight LH732 on its way from Frankfurt to Shanghai returned to Frankfurt Airport on 11 August 2019 shortly after takeoff. Due to a technical irregularity, the cockpit crew decided to return to Frankfurt as a precaution. In preparation for the landing, the Boeing 747-400 aircraft had to perform a fuel dump to reduce weight in order to have a safe landing in Frankfurt. The aircraft landed normally in Frankfurt.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Fuel Dump
The aircraft ended up dumping fuel over the German countryside. Photo: Lufthansa

They went on to add: “As a precautionary measure, the airport fire brigade also arrived during the landing, which is a standard procedure in such cases. Safety is Lufthansa number one priority at all times. Lufthansa regrets any inconvenience caused to passengers and provided a replacement aircraft the next morning to transport passengers to Shanghai.”

The Boeing 747 can fly on three engines

The Boeing 747 is actually capable of flying with only three engines operational. British Airways proved this on a flight from Los Angeles to London, much to the displeasure of the FAA. In 2005, a British Airways Boeing 747 lost its number two engine climbing out of Los Angeles International Airport.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Fuel Dump
In 2005, A British Airways Boeing 747 flew from LAX to Manchester on three engines. Photo: Lufthansa

The flight ended up continuing to land in the UK, however, the FAA wanted to fine the British flag carrier $25,000. Thankfully the issue was eventually solved as Flight Global reported: “the FAA will recognize the CAA’s determination that the aircraft was not unairworthy”.

Were you onboard the flight on Sunday? Let us know your experience in the comments.


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“The flight passed right overhead the Open Flair music festival in Eschege while dumping fuel, where 20,000 people were in attendance.”

Ok so with all these planes returning to origin for one reason or another and having to dump fuel as a result it’s got me wondering, what’s the impact of all this!!!???

Would a ground observer be able to tell this was happening?!


Another dangerous, filthy wreck, long past its retirement date…


Lufthansa currently operates 57 aircraft that are 20 years old or older…no wonder they have relatively low load factors.
It must cost a fortune every time one of these birds can’t operate due to partial disintegration: just look at the costs of compensating passengers, giving them food and hotels, re-rostering staff…not to mention the cost of dumped fuel.
And then Mr. Spohr expresses surprise that other airlines can offer budget fares: let’s see, Mr. Spohr, might that be because they’re not spending a fortune keeping half-filled old wrecks on the ground?

mark Olsen

I recently booked two business class round trip tickets on Lufthansa from Los Angeles to Barcelona via Frankfurt. I could have booked these seats on several other airlines, some even for less money than Lufthansa. I specifically booked the flights on Lufthansa because they are the only airline to offer the 747-8. I don’t like being jammed into small planes and for long international flights the 747-8 is still Queen of The Skies.


Dumped Fuel evaporates before it hits the ground. This is done in considering of the are they are in and the urgency. Turbine engines don’t ‘stall’. They either fail or are shutdown due to some sort of irregularity to prevent more damage. 747 and other 4 engine jets can fly with less than the full number of engines. This is part of the simulations and practice procedures that airlines train their crews for and consider for every flight path.