|An overweight landing is defined as a landing made at a gross weight in excess of the maximum design (i.e., structural) landing weight for a particular model. A pilot may consider making an overweight landing when a situation arises that requires the airplane to return to the takeoff airport or divert to another airport soon after takeoff. In these cases, the airplane may arrive at the landing airport at a weight considerably above the maximum design landing weight. The pilot must then decide whether to reduce the weight prior to landing or land overweight. The weight can be reduced either by holding to burn off fuel or by jettisoning fuel. There are important issues to consider when a decision must be made to land overweight, burn off fuel, or jettison fuel.|
|THERE ARE IMPORTANT ISSUES WHEN DECIDING TO LAND OVERWEIGHT, BURN OFF FUEL, OR JETTISON FUEL.||by Rick Colella,
Flight Operations Engineer
Due to continuing increases in the cost of fuel, airlines want help deciding whether to land overweight, burn off fuel, or jettison fuel. Each choice has its own set of factors to consider. Holding to burn off fuel or jettisoning fuel prior to landing will result in increased fuel cost and time-related operational costs. Landing overweight requires an overweight landing inspection with its associated cost. Many airlines provide their flight crews with guidelines to enable the pilot to make an intelligent decision to burn off fuel, jettison fuel, or land overweight considering all relevant factors of any given situation.
This article provides general information and technical data on the structural and performance aspects of an overweight landing to assist airlines in determining which option is best suited to their operation and to a given situation.
The article covers these facets of overweight landings and fuel jettisoning:
- Regulatory aspects.
- Safety and ecological aspects.
- Airplane structural capability.
- Airplane performance capability.
- Automatic landings.
- Overweight landing inspection requirements.