The video of a Cargolux plane jettisoning kerosene over the Belgian Ardennes is becoming viral on Facebook. It is indeed a rare procedure, but above all an emergency procedure in the event of a technical problem. What happened?
On Tuesday 18 August, Cargolux flight CV7302 from Luxembourg to Singapore (a Boeing 747-8F registered LX-VCK) headed for the Belgian Ardennes and circled over an hour in the sky over Florenville between Arlon and Sedan. In the video and in the above picture, you can see large trails coming from the wings of the plane.
Due to a technical problem which necessitated a return to Luxembourg shortly after take-off, the plane had to dump some of its kerosene in order to avoid an overloaded landing. after circling for one hour, the aircraft landed safely in Luxembourg. The aircraft has since been repaired and operated flight CV7302 with a delay of 17 hours.
“Degassing” is an emergency procedure, especially for large aircraft. Such an aeroplane cannot land on the tarmac with its tanks full. If so, the plane would be too heavy and risks breaking up or causing heavy damage.
The French General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC), which is the only authority to allow such a procedure in France, explained in the past that at a certain altitude, kerosene vaporises in micro-droplets. In addition, more than 90% of the unloaded fuel evaporates well before coming into contact with the ground. Hence there is no health risk for the population of the affected areas.