Teachers doused in jet fuel at California school sue Delta Air Lines
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[January 18, 2020]
By Steve Gorman
(Reuters) - Four Los Angeles-area
schoolteachers who were doused with jet fuel dumped by a Delta Air Lines
plane in the minutes before it made an emergency landing sued the
airline on Friday, accusing the flight crew of negligence.
The plaintiffs say the pilot of the Delta Flight 89, which took off from
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Tuesday bound for Shanghai,
failed to follow proper procedures in dumping thousands of pounds of
fuel over a densely populated area at relatively low altitude.
A Delta spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in
Los Angeles County Superior Court and seeks unspecified damages.
Dozens of children and teachers at Park Avenue Elementary School in
suburban Cudahy were showered with jet fuel released by the plane as it
circled back toward LAX minutes after reporting an engine problem
The plane, carrying 167 passengers and crew, landed safely a short time
City officials in Cudahy, located 16 miles east of LAX, voiced outrage
over incident, in which at least 44 children and adults were treated for
The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday the flight crew
released fuel without notifying air traffic control personnel of its
intent to do so.
When asked by the control tower if there was a need to dump any fuel
before landing - a measure sometimes taken to lighten a plane's load in
such emergencies - the pilot replied, "Negative," according to a
recording of radio transmissions made public after the incident.
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A Delta Airlines, Flight 89, Boeing 777-200 jet empties its fuel
tanks as it makes an emergency landing at Los Angeles International
Airport, seen from Ocean View Elementary School in Whittier,
California, U.S., January 14, 2020 in this still video image
obtained by REUTERS
"We've got it back under control," the pilot is heard saying, after
first reporting that the jet was experiencing a compressor stall - a
disruption in air flowing through one of its jet engine compressors.
The FAA, which is investigating the incident, said a flight crew
seeking to dump fuel before an emergency landing would typically be
directed by air traffic controllers to a higher altitude where the
fuel would essentially vaporize before reaching the ground.
The lawsuit alleges the pilot's failure to do so was an act of
negligence that rained jet fuel over the plaintiffs, "coating" them
in a toxic substance and leaving them distressed and physically ill.
"Their severe emotional distress includes the reasonable fear that
the exposure to and ingestion of jet fuel might produce serious
health consequences such as cancer in the future," the complaint
On the day of the incident, Delta said the fuel release was
necessary "as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing
weight," but has not addressed questions raised about the way in
which the fuel dump was conducted.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, Calif.; Editing by Sonya
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