Re: TWA & regular "unscheduled" refuelings in Gander

Date:         08 Feb 99 02:49:24 
From:         Larry Stone <lstone@wwa.com>
References:   1
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On 1 Feb 1999, Roberto Celi wrote:

> A couple of weeks ago I flew from Rome to JFK on a TWA 767.  My final
> destination was BWI, which I reached with a 24 hours delay (true to its
> name, isn't it?  Tomorrow We Arrive...).  The "Flight From Hell"
> included a refueling stop in Gander, which was announced as soon as we
> taxied off the gate at FCO (and before a mechanical problem kept us 100
> feet from the gate for about 2 hrs, but that's another story).
>
> In almost 20 years of crossing the Atlantic, including many flights on
> 767s, I've *never* had to go through an "unscheduled" refueling stop.
> The reason the pilot gave us was that separations had been increased at
> JFK, and therefore we didn't have enough fuel to circle around waiting
> to land.  When we got to JFK horizontal visibility seemed pretty much
> unlimited, and the ceiling didn't look bad at all (1000-2000 ft?).  I'm
> 99% sure the aircraft was not a -300 or -300ER.  It was almost
> completely full.  Still, it seemed a bit unusual to have to stop at
> Gander.  Also, the announced flight time to Gander was about 7 hrs,
> therefore the head winds couldn't have been much worse than usual
> (FCO-JFK is usually about 10-10:30 hrs).

A 1,000 to 2,000 foot ceiling may not seem bad at all but it's bad enough
to require an alternate destination in the flight plan. Also, keep in mind
that the flight planning is being done about 12 hours before the planned
arrival and the weather can change considerably between then and actual
arrival. Obviously I have no details but it may well have been that the
weather was forecast to be a lot worse and that it was quite some distance
to a legal alternate.

No airline likes to make unscheduled fuel stops (they do cost money) so
I'm sure if it could have been avoided, TWA would have.

-- Larry Stone
   lstone@wwa.com
   http://www.wwa.com/~lstone/