Monday, April 18, 2016

Oman Air issues clarification on aircraft running out of fuel

MUSCAT -  In response to the Letter to the Editor 'Oman Air’s flight from Cairo runs out of fuel' published on April 17, Oman Air has issued a clarification.

It stated: We would like to clarify the reason for the diversion of our flight WY406 from Cairo to Muscat on 14th April to Al Ain. Normal diversions like this one are not emergencies, unless declared to be so. Flight WY 406 was not on emergency or emergency landing. Rest assured, as always, Oman air puts the safety of its passengers as our number one priority.

The flight departed Cairo with the correct planned fuel. It was planned to cruise at an altitude of 37,000 feet. However after the flight had taken-off, the Air Traffic Control restricted the altitude to just 33,000 ft. This could be due to the heavy traffic crossing the Saudi airspace. Since the air is denser, jet engines burn more fuel at lower altitudes. There is always contingency fuel on every flight to cater for such situations.

Unfortunately, due to the prolonged period of flying at 4000 feet below the optimum altitude, the contingency fuel was also used up. However, there was still enough fuel to continue to Muscat. The aircraft was diverted so that we could fuel up for any further contingencies to ensure maximum safety of our passengers. We thank our pilots for considering all the factors and taking the safest decision given the circumstances. We understand your concerns and hope our response provides a better insight into how we strive to maintain our unique safety record.

Original article can be found here: 

Oman Air's Cairo-Muscat flight runs out of fuel

I would like to write about a recent incident with the national carrier, Oman Air, that is not only embarrassing, but also a major safety risk.

(A Letter to MuscatDaily Editor)

I was on flight WY0406 from Cairo to Muscat on Thursday, April 14, when it was forced to make an emergency landing in Al Ain, UAE, because it ran out of fuel (according to an announcement made by the captain).

We waited on the ground for around one hour to get refuelled and then managed to arrive in Muscat shortly after.What’s confusing is that fuel is probably the first thing to check before taking off, so how could there not be enough? In a conversation with a stewardess, I was given three correlated reasons.

First, the incoming flight from Muscat to Cairo was late, so there was not enough time to refuel before returning to Muscat.

Secondly, the airplane was already too heavy with the luggage and passengers to take any more fuel.

Thirdly, because of turbulence, the pilot tried to move the airplane left and right, which used up more fuel.

Sadly, while these reasons may be true, none of them as I said, are excusable.

If it’s a matter of delaying a flight in order to completely refuel it, isn’t that worth it? What’s the benefit of being on time if you run out of fuel half way?

Isn’t it better to fly with enough fuel than to cause inconvenience to passengers? The airline could probably have come up with another way of getting the excess luggage delivered to the destination.

While the amount of turbulence may be unpredictable, isn’t turbulence itself something every flight should be prepared for? And the amount of turbulence on that flight was not something extraordinary.

Now, while we did make the emergency landing in Al Ain, did we have enough fuel for Muscat? Maybe. Was the pilot just taking a precaution in case there were any delays in the Muscat descent, rightly so? Only he knows. But either way, you should always land with extra fuel in the tank, so the fact that we had to land at all is still inexcusable.

Moreover, we were fortunate that there was an airport nearby. What would the solution have been had there not been an airport? What if it was busy?

In order to get more clarity, it would be nice to have an explanation from Oman Air, and I hope that by looking into this the airline will improve its operations in the future.

(Name Withheld)

Original article can be found here:

1 comment:

A D said...

I realize you are not a pilot, but you have so much anecdotal evidence about why fuel was low. First, the less fuel the plane has the less it burns. And second, the altitude also affects the fuel burn dramatically. Also, they must have enough fuel to go to their alternate, plus 45 mins minimum extra. The statement by the airline is very plausible and is probably what happened.