Controllers Declare Fuel Emergency
Aug. 02, 1990
NEW YORK (AP) _ Flight controllers declared a fuel emergency for the apparently reluctant pilot of an Avianca jet which then landed with only five minutes of fuel left, officials said.
Another Avianca jet en route to Kennedy International Airport crashed in January when it ran out of fuel, killing 73 people, after the pilot failed to declare a fuel emergency.
Avianca Flight 20 from Colombia was about 30 minutes south of Kennedy on Tuesday when the pilot told air traffic controllers he was low on fuel. The controllers notified New York Terminal Radar Control
Controllers there contacted the pilot, who confirmed that he had only 15 minutes of fuel left.
''He was asked if he wanted to declare a fuel emergency,'' said air traffic controller Joseph Fuscella.
''When they detected some reluctance in his voice, the controllers - mindful of the Avianca crash - decided to declare an emergency and bring him right in,'' said Fuscella.
Other planes were immediately placed in holding patterns and the Avianca Boeing 767 was guided straight to the airport, said Diane Spitaliere, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.
If an emergency had not been declared, the plane would have been placed at the end of a line of aircraft waiting to land at Kennedy and would have been expected to stay in the air an additional 25 minutes, Fuscella said.
The jet had only five minutes of fuel left on board when it landed, according to Fuscella and Spitaliere.
Fuscella said the flight from Cali and Bogota had followed the same flight path up the East Coast as Avianca Flight 52, which crashed in January.
Fuscella said there were numerous aircraft in a holding pattern Tuesday because of severe thunderstorms in the area and normal evening congestion.
The flight, scheduled to land at 8:24 p.m., was an hour late but it was not clear where the delay occurred or what caused it.