Too heavy to fly? So we'll fly lower..

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine. She’s sitting in a plane in Houston. They say they cant take off because they’re overweight. They were asking for a person or two to volunteer to take another flight. But then, I heard the captain say that they had recalculated the weight and filed a flight plan to fly LOWER, in order to burn more fuel. They are flying to KCRW (Charleston WV) which is an airport built on a mountaintop. Now… I have no idea if this overweight issue is a “take-off” issue or “landing” issue. But certainly sounds like a landing issue. This entire issue is new to me. I’ve never heard of an overweight plane being a landing issue. It’s usually always a take off issue.

Anyone care to comment?

Most transport category airplanes (airliners) have a maximum landing weight restriction less than the max take off weight. It to not overstress the airframe during the loading stresses of landing.

And by filing to fly lower than previously intended, they will burn more fuel en route, thereby (hopefully) making their landing weight in the green.

So… after calculating the aircrafts weight, the pilot decided that the landing weight was too heavy, and is flying lower to burn more fuel. This sounds really wasteful doesn’t? I thought it might have been runway lenght issues at KCRW.


Wasteful? yes. Common? yes.

But with the weather conditions at KCRW the captain probably wanted all of the fuel he could carry for the given load. With all of the stranded passengers trying to get back east they probably underestimated the payload. This way they don’t have to have anyone get off, and the crew can still have their contingency fuel at destination.

OK… thanks! As much as I’ve flown, this is a new one on me.

Well it’s also kind of an RJ thing…

You hear this quite a bit from the RJ’s operating from the BOS/NYC area into DC/VA area. They tank up on fuel to allow for anticipated delays, and then request a longer route or lower altitude when the delays aren’t experienced.