Fuel Leak Prompts Transatlantic United Boeing 767 Diversion

**Update: 19/11/19 @ 00:14 UTC – A United spokesperson commented on the diversion, details below**

A United Airlines Boeing 767 was diverted as it was about to cross the Atlantic, due to a fuel leak. The airliner was heading to Chicago but was redirected to the Irish town of Shannon.

United Boeing 767-300ER
A United Airlines Boeing 767 was unexpectedly redirected due to a suspected fuel leak before heading across the Atlantic Ocean. Photo: United Airlines

Just in time

According to The Aviation Herald, aircraft registration N642UA was performing flight UA-973 from Brussels, carrying 164 passengers. However, while at FL33, around 220nm northwest of Shannon, the 767-322(ER) changed direction. Fire vehicles were being readied after crew advised of the leak.

Subsequently, the aircraft landed safely on Shannon’s runway 06 after around 40 minutes since the diversion began. Thankfully, there are no reports of injuries to the 164 passengers and 11 crew onboard. The aircraft was then taxied for emergency services to inspect the situation. They soon confirmed that there was no fuel was spilled on the runway.

To get its passengers to their intended destination, United sent a replacement Boeing 767-300 from London Heathrow to Shannon. Aircraft registration N666UA is estimated to reach Chicago with a seven-hour delay.

United 767
The United Boeing 767 landed safely at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Photo: MercerMJ via Wikimedia Commons

Similar incidents

Another transatlantic flight was diverted due to a suspected fuel leak earlier this month. A British Airways Boeing 777 was forced to divert while flying from London Heathrow to Nassau in the Bahamas.

The aircraft was redirected to St. John’s International Airport in Canada as a result. The next day, a replacement 777 picked up the stranded passengers to continue their journey to Nassau, before continuing to George Town.

However, this isn’t the only other recent fuel leak incident involving operations across the Atlantic, or even United. Last month, one of the airline’s Boeing 787-10 was forced to turn around only after two hours.

This time, United was traveling in the opposite direction as the flight was trying to get to Dublin, Ireland from New York. Furthermore, the decision to turn around was made while flying 30nm southeast of St. John’s.

Fuel Leak Prompts Transatlantic United Boeing 767 Diversion
Another Boeing 767 was deployed to Shannon to transport passengers That have been stuck in Shannon. Photo: Kiefer via Wikimedia Commons

Important decisions

Despite all three incidents involving similar circumstances, it’s important for airlines to make a well-planned decision when it comes to fuel leaks. These issues can be potentially dangerous and it’s in the best interest of the crew to inspect the situation as soon as possible.

With these transatlantic routes not offering a whole lot of land in the way, airlines want to make sure that diversions are made before it’s too late. It’s particularly important that the decision is made before flying over the middle of the ocean.

Simple Flying reached out to United for comment on this transatlantic fuel leak incident. A spokesperson said that there was a technical issue and apologised for the events.

“Our team at Shannon Airport provided assistance to customers of United flight 973 (Brussels – Chicago O’Hare) today which diverted to Shannon Airport to address a technical issue.  The aircraft landed safely at 12:42 p.m. (local time),” the spokesperson said.

“We made arrangements for our customers to complete their journeys today and apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

What do you think of the way United responded to the suspected fuel leak incident? Let us know your thoughts on the events in the comment section.

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