Probe of fuel dumping over Glen Burnie sought Gilchrest tells panel about jetliner incident

January 23, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest has called on a congressional subcommittee to investigate planes' practice of dumping fuel in midair.

Gilchrest, a Republican who represents the Eastern Shore, faxed a letter to the House Subcommittee on Aviation yesterday drawing its attention to an incident Tuesday in which a DC-10 making an emergency landing at Baltimore-Washington International Airport accidentally released about 100 gallons of fuel over Glen Burnie.

"It alarmed me to the degree that I don't know how often this happens," Gilchrest said. "I want to see how many times this has happened in the country in the last five years."

Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr., a Tennessee Republican who heads the subcommittee, could not be reached for comment.

A World Airways plane the Illinois Air Force had chartered to transport personnel and their families to Germany turned back to BWI for an emergency landing Tuesday after a 22-month-old passenger had a seizure and fell unconscious.

To land the plane safely according to Federal Aviation Administration weight regulations, the pilot had to dump 13,000 gallons of fuel, which evaporates quickly if released at high altitudes.

A valve failed to shut completely, however, and the plane sprayed Glen Burnie with fuel as it flew low near BWI. A mother and son heading to a Cub Scout meeting at Arthur Slade Regional Catholic School a mile from the airport were enveloped in mist from the fuel, which gave them minor skin irritations, headaches and nausea.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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