Fuel leakage Flying overhead the Red Sea at Night
Yemen was our entry point into Asia (yes, it is Asia). From Aden, Yemen we flew to Aswan in Egypt with a fuel-stop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The flight over Yemen was over mountains and dessert landscape. Once we got close to Saudi Arabia, we got a good view of the Red Sea and some great looking islands in them.
While enroute we are able to communicate through the Thuraya Sat network with our AeroPlus operations centre in The Netherlands. This helped in getting everything well prepared for our arrival into the next destination. Our ops staff would call ahead and inform the airport and handler of our estimated arrival time and would confirm again the arrangement made earlier on and if all was going to work out as planned.
Jeddah is right next to Mecca, which is a prohibited area that we could not overfly.
Here some pictures of our approach into Jeddah airport, which according to them has the largest airport surface area of any airport in the world.
The reason for our stop was to refuel. The tanks were filled including our ferry tank inside the aircraft. While taxiing out to the runway, the tower warned us of a possible fuel leakage. At the holding point for the runway we stopped for final checks and a pool of fuel was appearing underneath our aircraft. So .. we returned to the apron but could not find a problem other than that we had filled the tanks to the top and that some fuel had spilled over through the overflow valve. That fuel had been leaking onto the apron and taxiway. Actually, a firetruck was cleaning up the mess. It seemed strange to us that we had lost more than usual.
Once airborn enroute to Aswan, we wanted to pump some of the fuel from the ferry tank on the back seats to the right wing tank using an electric fuel pump. However, we then found out that most of the fuel in the ferry tank was not there anymore.
What happened was that we filled both the ferry tank and the wing tanks fully, but forgot to turn off the electrical pump that pumps fuel from the ferry tank into the right wing tank when we need to. So, the pump was pumping fuel into a full rightwing tank and this right wing tank did not have room for extra fuel and thus threw it overboard via the overflow valve. We lost 50 liter of fuel while flying into the night overhead the Red Sea and just having received an amendment to our flightplan. We could not fly directly anymore to Aswan in Egypt, but had to fly via Luxor to Aswan. That addition to fly via Luxor added about an hour to our expected flying time. Seemingly there was a military exercise in the area that we had to circumvent..
So, I suggested to the Egyptian air traffic controllers to give me a direct flight to Aswan through the military area or that I would have no other choice but to declare a fuel emergency. It helped and after a clearance from the Eqyptian military and having to tell them from which country we were, we got permission to fly direct to Aswan from our current position overhead the Red Sea.
We arrived save and were welcomed by a full staff of fire trucks at the Aswan airport.
Above we are pumping fuel with a small handpump from a jerrycan into the ferrytank. After the pumping we cleaned the pump outside the aircraft to get rid of the fuel smell.