Plane Dumps Fuel Over Lake Michigan, Makes Emergency Landing

An American Airlines plane dumps thousands of pounds of fuel into Lake Michigan before making an emergency landing at O'Hare Airport

By Sandra Torres
|  Monday, Jun 6, 2011  |  Updated 10:54 AM CDT
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Plane Dumps Fuel into Lake Michigan

An American Airlines plane was forced to dump thousands of pounds of fuel over the lake yesterday, in order to land safely at O'Hare International Airport after it experienced mechanical problems, according to an AA spokesperson.

Officials from the Chicago Department of Aviation and American Airlines said flight 137 took off from Chicago at 9 p.m. on Sunday, bound for Beijing, and returned to O'Hare Airport around 10:30 p.m. without incident.

The plane, with 249 passengers aboard, had to dump 151,000 pounds, said AA spokesperson Ed Martelle.

"Landing over weight could have created more problems," said Martelle, adding that the plane landed safely and within weight limits, but a tire blew out upon landing.

Martelle, however, said releasing the fuel wouldn't have a negative impact on the lake because the process they use is called "venting the fuel." He said the process allows the fuel to evaporate before it reaches the ground, or in this case, the lake.

Passenger Harsh Kopula told NBC Chicago he watched through the plane's windows as the fuel was evacuated into the body of water, however.

Kopula said although everyone aboard became frazzled when they were told the plane had to return to Chicago, the flight crew remained calm throughout the incident.

American Airlines will be accommodating all passengers today, according to Martelle.

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