An interesting medical emergency went unnoticed in the mainstream media last weekend. Turkish Airlines, on October 13, 2017, had a rather long but unfruitful flight to nowhere.
The airline had TK35 set course to Montreal and had just taken off when a young passenger reported sick, apparently fainted. A medical emergency would have caused the plane to divert, however, since they were very close to Istanbul, the airline decided that it was best to head back to base rather than head further out.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 13, 2017
Given this was just the beginning of the flight, fuel was topped off unto the brim on the plane, and hence it was unsuitable to land the plane. Under normal circumstances, a fuel dumping would have been done where the extra fuel would have been released from the plane to make the weight of the plane suitable to land.
However, this plane apparently did not have a fuel-dumping mechanism installed. So, the plane had to now circle around Istanbul for 7 hours to burn the fuel till the plane had come to an adequate landing weight for the plane.
In medical emergency terms, that would be a lot of time to tackle one, however, luckily, the condition of the girl improved after a while, removing the need for a forced landing.
It is interesting to note the sequence of events that happened here. The flight to Montreal would have been about 10 hours or so, and the aircraft had to fly 7 hours before landing. So, why not take it somewhere on the way to Montreal?
The answer to that was very easy. They had the option to come back and then committed to a return. However, when the passenger was better, they must have been low on fuel so they had no option but to return by then.
Of course, from what I hear, they could have landed heavy had it been a life-threatening situation, but that was a call of the commander of the plane and he determined this to be the best course of action.
I really hope Turkish Airlines learns from this and equips all their planes with fuel-dumping capabilities in the future.
What do you make out of this situation, and how’d you have handled it if you were the captain of the plane?