Construction on runway 4R/22L, a 12,000 foot runway at Detroit’s airport, has led to some interesting routings for Delta’s 747s to Asia the past couple of days.

The interesting routings began on Tuesday, September 12th with Delta 583, a regularly scheduled flight from Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG). With the closure of runway 4R/22L, Detroit’s longest runway, the 747 couldn’t make it off the ground and all the way to Shanghai with a full load of passengers and cargo along with the required amount of fuel. Detroit’s next longest runways are 10,000 feet. This meant there would have to be a planned technical stop For Tuesday, Delta decided to plan the technical stop in Minneapolis (MSP), it’s closest hub to the normal flight path of flight 583.

Flight 583 took off from Detroit with a minimal load of fuel, and then filled up for the journey across the Pacific. The stop in Minneapolis was only planned to be an hour, but fuelers only used one fuel pump, prolonging the technical stop into a two-hour ordeal. It has been a couple of years since Minneapolis has seen regularly scheduled 747 service, meaning this was not a normal fueling job for ground crews in Minneapolis.

Yesterday, flight 583 was once again scheduled to stop in Minneapolis, while flight 159 to Seoul (ICN) was scheduled to make a stop in Anchorage (ANC). Late in the morning, Delta switched the two flights meaning flight 583 would make its stop in Anchorage while flight 159 would make its stop in Minneapolis.

The second time around was the charm for the ground crew in Minneapolis. Flight 159 pushed back just a couple of minutes behind its scheduled departure time, making the technical stop just over an hour. This time, two fuel pumps were used. The 747, N666US, was loaded with 37,000 gallons or 344,800 pounds of fuel for the rest of the trip to Seoul.

The runway construction will be complete no later than September 19th. This will allow Delta to resume its regularly scheduled non-stop flights to Asia with no technical stops.

Featured image by Alec Mollenhauer (author).

Categories: Flyer Talk