In 1998 a United DC-10 made an emergency landing at Washington’s National airport. It was a Chicago – Baltimore flight that was first diverted to Dulles (after being held over Cleveland) and then to National due to weather. It was low on fuel, had 300 passengers on board, and had little choice but to make the landing. Emergency equipment deployed to the airport’s longest ~ 7000 foot runway.
I remember at the time being surprised that National was the diversion airport given the airport’s postage stamp size and short runways. Widebodies don’t normally operate there. Indeed, I wondered as well how they were going to manage getting the plane out of National, though presumably that was done with minimum fuel (and passengers offloaded, and bused to Baltimore).
That’s why I was surprised to see what I understand is a Vietnam Airlines 787-9 intentionally fly from Washington Dulles to National airport this morning.
Image courtesy Vietnam Airlines
It’s planning to make the return trip this evening.
A Boeing 787 normally needs about a little more than 8000 feet of runway (about 5% less runway than a DC-10). Not carrying passengers, and without much fuel, it can presumably thus land on a 7000 foot runway.
Don’t expect to see 787s landing at National in the future, then — let alone a Vietnam Airlines 787, since National doesn’t have immigration facilities (its only international flights involve preclearance at origin, such as flights from Canada and the Bahamas).
(HT: Kevin S.)