A Honolulu-bound jetliner that leaked hundreds of gallons of fuel at a passenger terminal before takeoff returned to Los Angeles International Airport on Monday afternoon after a fuel warning light activated in the cockpit, sources said.
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 3, an Airbus A330 with 300 people on board, turned around shortly after departure from LAX and landed safely about 2:30 p.m.
A warning light indicating a possible fuel leak prompted the pilots to return, although the plane's instruments did not indicate any fuel loss, according to the airline.
Before returning, the plane circled to burn off fuel to avoid making an overweight landing.
The flight was scheduled to leave at 10 a.m. but did not take off until 12:48 p.m. because fuel spilled onto the tarmac while the plane was parked at Terminal 2.
Airport sources said an estimated 350 gallons leaked from the plane, which they described as one of the largest fuel spills in the airport's history. Before takeoff, the jet was refueled.
Based on the airline's preliminary reports, the spill was not caused by a mechanical problem with the plane.
Alison Croyle, an airline spokeswoman, said maintenance crews inspected the aircraft and determined that the fuel valve in question had been properly closed. Federal Aviation Administration officials also said they reviewed the situation and cleared the plane.
The flight to Hawaii resumed late Monday afternoon.