Re: TWA & regular "unscheduled" refuelings in Gander

Date:         08 Feb 99 02:49:30 
From: (Jeff Meeker)
Organization: posted via:, Dallas, TX (214) 343-3333/(817) 461-8484 for info
References:   1
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On 01 Feb 99 02:37:11 , 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.

If you had said you flew out of Denver or some other high elevation
city on a hot, summer day in a full plane, I certainly would not be
the least bit surprised.

>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).

Could have been lots of factors.  Headwinds are one, traffic is
another, althought I would think minimum IFR reserves would make that
less likely.  What about available runway at Rome??  Did you take off
from a shorter runway than normal??

Before an airliner can takeoff, the required runway length must be
caluculated.  Lots of differnet factors come into this.  Back to the
Denver in summer scenario.  Its hot and high.  Two factors that REALLY
reduce takeoff performance of an airplane.

If the runway length required is less than the available runway, there
are a few things one can do to decrease the amount of runway it takes
to get airborne.  You can wait for it to cool off.  (not likely for a
scheduled flight) Or, you get rid of weight. How??   Get rid of cargo,
passaegers, or fuel.  Cargo and passengers mean revenue, so they
probably won't get tossed (especially PAX).  So, you get rid of fuel.
The plane weighs less, and can take off, but it can make it to the
final destination.  So you stop for fuel.

>Now, I try to avoid anything that brings me anywhere near attorneys, so
>I am absolutely not thinking of a lawsuit (the lawyers get all the money
>anyway).  However, I *am* very curious to know if any other people in
>this newsgroup have heard of this practice, with TWA or other
>airlines--schedule the smaller plane, see what the load factor is, and
>if it's too full come up with an "unscheduled" refueling stop at Gander
>blaming bad weather at the final destination, or winds en route, or
>whatever they can come up with at the time.  Doesn't the basic 767
>(-200?) have the range to go FCO-JFK?

I don't know anything about Atlantic crossings, so I wont venture a
guess.  However, I *will* trust the jugement of a captain who says we
need more fuel, or diverts for weather conditions.