China Eastern plane discharges 30 tonnes of fuel for emergency landing to save passenger's life

The passenger, a 60-year-old woman, had felt unwell and complained of breathing difficulties while on flight MU587 from Shanghai to New York on March 23, 2018.
The passenger, a 60-year-old woman, had felt unwell and complained of breathing difficulties while on flight MU587 from Shanghai to New York on March 23, 2018.PHOTO: SCREEBGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

In a bid to save a passenger's life, a China Eastern Airlines pilot decided to discharge 30 tonnes of jet fuel in the air last Friday (March 23) in order to make an emergency landing.

Chinese media reports said that a 60-year-old woman had felt unwell and complained of breathing difficulties while on flight MU587 from Shanghai to New York, which departed at about 7.30pm on Friday night.

Chinese news website hangzhou.com.cn reported on Monday that the woman was slipping into a state of unconsciousness and the situation was critical.

The woman, who was travelling with her young daughter, was transferred from economy class to business class, after airline crew performed basic first aid on her, according to news website UDN.com.

In order to get emergency help for the woman, the pilot decided to land in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska.

This required him to perform a fuel discharge procedure, where 30 tonnes of fuel was released in the air, to ensure that the plane could land safely. 

Fuel dumping is carried out in emergency situations, such as when an aircraft has to land before its intended destination, to reduce its weight.

The pilot's actions drew praise from many on board the flight, including a woman, who wanted to be known as Ivy.

She told UDN.com that saving lives should be a priority, and that the incident did not cost passengers, since they stayed on the plane after it was forced to land.

She added that after flying for about seven hours, the airline crew had announced over the radio for doctors to step forward to help the woman.

But when nobody did after three calls, they said that they would have to make an emergency landing.

The woman was taken by an ambulance to a local hospital, where she recovered and was able to continue her trip to New York with her daughter the next morning.

After refuelling, the aircraft took off from Anchorage at 9.20pm and arrived in New York after about six hours of delay.

Many netizens expressed support for the pilot's actions on China Eastern Airline's Sina Weibo account.