INCIDENT: United Express CRJ550 Diverts – Fuel Leak

By Spyros Georgilidakis | August 2, 2021

A CRJ550 crew operating a United Express flight diverted safely into Rochester, NY, after a substantial fuel leak caused a weight imbalance.

The incident happened yesterday. GoJet, the operator of the aircraft, was performing flight UA-4583, for United Express. The aircraft took off from runway 22R at Newark (KEWR), NJ, flying to Buffalo (KBUF), NY. The United Express flight was nearing its destination in Buffalo, when the crew became aware of the fuel leak.

INCIDENT: United Express CRJ550 Diverts – Fuel Leak

Crucially, the fuel leak was causing the United Express flight to have an ever-worsening fuel imbalance. So, the crew decided to divert to Rochester International (KROC), NY, to save crucial time. At this point the aircraft was about 20 miles east of Rochester, and approximately 80 miles from Buffalo, at FL240. The crew asked ATC for “the fastest approach you can give us”, trying to keep the imbalance from worsening.

The crew landed their aircraft about 15 minutes after diverting because of the leak and resulting imbalance. Video of the United Express flight on final to Rochester, shows how serious the leak was. But crucially, the fuel did not stop leaking after the aircraft came to a stop, on runway 4 in Rochester.

INCIDENT: United Express CRJ550 Diverts – Fuel Leak
The jet on short final. Photo: justinabbott48


United Express Flight – Controlling The Fuel Leak

Photos and video appear to suggest that the fuel is leaking from the wing. But radio chatter suggests it was coming from the left engine, or its immediate surroundings. The crew shut down both engines and the APU, but the leak persisted, as the jet sat on the ground. Eventually, crews were able to control the fuel leak on the United Express flight, and disembark the passengers safely.

GoJet Airlines released this statement, after the flight’s landing:

GoJet Airlines flight 4583 operating as United Express from Newark to Buffalo encountered a possible fuel imbalance and diverted to Rochester. The flight landed safely and buses are now shuttling passengers back to the gate. We are making arrangements to get customers to their destinations on a different aircraft.

The aircraft’s track. Image: FlightRadar24

The aircraft suffering this fuel leak is a Mitsubishi (formerly Bombardier) CRJ550 (CL-600-2C11), operating for United Express. It is 18 years old, operating as a CRJ701ER for most if its existence. United reconfigured it to the premium-heavy 55-seat CRJ550 layout very recently, likely last April. And interestingly, the operator is GoJet Airlines, although the owner and lessor is Mesa Airlines.

It appears that Mesa operated the jet for United, until its 55-seat reconfiguration. We have recently looked at how/why US airlines are changing these CRJs this way, here. The accident aircraft had operated several sectors without incident, before this fuel leak. As of this writing, it is still on the ground in Rochester.



  • Once again terribly written article from this source. Hate the use of crew, operating, and performing. Just call the crew the pilots. Instead of the crew operating, the aircraft just write the pilots flying the aircraft. Unnecessarily generically written. Why separate sentence to identify the flight number by using performing? Flight information can be condensed down couple sentences instead of stretched out to a paragraph or 2.

    About the incident. Did pilots first notice the imbalance or the leak? Not clear. May be that fact wasn’t clear. Likely they noticed imbalance and then saw one wing tank had much less fuel and they assessed they had leak. But they could have received word from cabin crew that they see trail of fuel.

    • A

      Thank you for your comment. A few parameters to consider:

      – “Operating” because “they (crew or pilots) were flying flight 12345” seems worse.
      – Pilots are flight crew, flight attendants are cabin crew. “Crew” works because sometimes the text refers to both, and they are all part of the flight anyway. That probably doesn’t apply in this article, but it seems like a good general rule to follow. By the way, I’m now avoiding sentences like “The aircraft performed flight No1234“, even though this is how pretty much all sources I use, write — for brevity, I assume. But it bothered me, too.
      – I’m starting a separate sentence for XYZ because I try to keep to 20 words or fewer, per sentence. Why? Because I’m trying to make the article easier to read, especially for a younger audience, and/or one whose first language isn’t English. I’m deliberately avoiding passive tense, for the same reason — although doing too much of that arguably has the opposite effect (do a search on “Flesch Reading Score/scale” for more details). It’s not an easy balance to strike, but hopefully I’m getting it right more often than not. This is even harder to do with articles on incidents/accidents, especially if they are final reports. That’s because generally speaking, academic/reporting texts often default to passive tense (“the part was examined” “the site was found to be…” “from the study it was determined…”).

      Our statistics suggest that the average audience is quite young, which has certain implications (e.g. attention span). This, in turn, has a big influence on how I write these articles, including writing style and structure. It’s also why I often use bold text, for example. Related to that, I’m now always using bold whenever there are links in the main text, to make that blue text more readable. I’m afraid I have no control on how well it displays on computers and other devices. But a website change is coming up, that could solve that one for you.

      Regarding the incident, we don’t know what the pilots noticed first, however the cabin crew couldn’t have seen a trail of fuel, because the leak was in the left engine area (mount or nacelle), not the left wing.

      I hope this helps explain some of the things you’re noticing, and mentioning in your comments — all of which I’m reading. Please keep them coming. Again, following generic rules on reading ease, can sometimes become counter-productive. It’s useful to have people keeping me on my toes — so once again, thank you.

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