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"The airport has no ballast - you have to get off"

"The airport has no ballast - you have to get off"

Jan 30th, 2015, 07:37 PM
  #1  
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"The airport has no ballast - you have to get off"

Last Sunday I flew American Eagle from SMF > LAX and after the plane was full and the door closed, the captain came on the PA system and said "We need ballast to balance the plane - but apparently they don't have ballast so two passengers have to deplane". They hooked up the air bridge again and opened the door. One lady from the back got off (I didn't see anyone contact her but they must have). Was NOT happy, cussing under her breath as she walked past. Then a couple of minutes later the gate agent got on the PA and identified the other passenger that had to deplane and a young man came forward from way in the back. My guess is they were both off the standby list.

I would have been pi$$ed for sure.

Door closed and airbridge rolled back and off we taxied about 15 minutes late . . .
janisj is offline  
Jan 31st, 2015, 02:24 AM
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Maybe not standby, but the last to book or check in, or the lowest fare class? Very annoying, regardless.

What size plane was it? Seems odd that the weight of just two passengers would make the difference. And how do they know if it is unbalanced, I wonder?
eliztravels2 is offline  
Jan 31st, 2015, 04:41 AM
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Before every flight pilots (or dispatch) must make a weight and balance calculation (which is fairly simple arithmetic). The result must be within a certain range.

The smaller the plane the fewer components there are to the calculation and the easier it is for the location of passengers in the cabin to throw the aircraft out of balance. Ballast (basically sand bags) put into strategic locations can overcome the imbalance, providing they don't put the thing over weight.

Many of us have commonly seen crew on a lightly load plane moving passengers from the back up towards the front. Similarly, too many passengers can cause the situation although they usually try to offload freight first.

As for being out of ballast, the bags commonly are shuttled on this flight or that around an airline's system so it's easy to see how any particular location could run out until more shows up on another flight.
NoFlyZone is offline  
Jan 31st, 2015, 05:15 AM
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What kind of plane was it and does this happen on larger jets? I can sort of get it with smaller planes. Some yrs. ago a very popular pop singer, Aileyah or something like that was killed when her small plane crashed due to being overweight.
jacketwatch is online now  
Jan 31st, 2015, 05:33 AM
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Skywest flies CRJs on that route (50 seats).
NoFlyZone is offline  
Jan 31st, 2015, 06:15 AM
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The amount of weight and the location of the weight are two different things.

The amount of weight determines whether or not the plane can actually get off the ground. There are a lot of variables to this -- especially, the runway length and the airport's altitude and temperature. (The higher the altitude and temperature, the less weight is permitted.)

The location of the weight affects the pilot's ability to control the plane's upward and downward movement.The typical problem is too much weight in the rear, which tends to force the nose upward, which can cause serious consequences. There have been several accidents in which cargo that's been improperly secured has shifted to the back of the plane on takeoff, causing a disastrous crash. (Google "youtube 747 crash Bagram" if you want to see a grisly video of one such incident.)
DonTopaz is offline  
Jan 31st, 2015, 08:14 AM
  #7  
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Yes, it was American Eagle/Skywest and a Canada Air CRJ200
janisj is offline  
Feb 1st, 2015, 02:33 AM
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Very informative. I've certainly flown on small aircraft where the weight was critical, even had to be weighed once along with my baggage, but had never heard of ballast on a plane before.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2015, 05:24 PM
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Many of us have commonly seen crew on a lightly load plane moving passengers from the back up towards the front.

I actually had the opposite experience. Around 30 years ago I flew on an Embraer Brasilia turboprop with only 3 other passengers (so 4 of us total). Before takeoff, the pilot had all of us move to the rear of the plane for balance.

Once we were airborne we could sit where we wanted, but for landing we had to return to the back of the plane.
Cranachin is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2015, 05:33 PM
  #10  
 
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Sometimes they will move people from one side to the other, too. Point is shifting the load changes the balance of the aircraft as needed by the overall loading.
NoFlyZone is offline  
Feb 4th, 2015, 03:43 AM
  #11  
 
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So is this why passengers are told to stay in the seats they are assigned for takeoff, and return to them for landing, although they are free to spread out to empty seats otherwise? I had this happen both to and from LAX/Australia on Qantas recently. I figured it was to make id easier if there was a crash and casualties.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2015, 12:16 PM
  #12  
 
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Very informative, Don T and NoFly Z. Thanks to both of you.
Sassafrass is offline  
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