Environment: Clean-Air Pilot

Soon after a jetliner takes off, the pilot jettisons about three gallons of kerosene. This is excess fuel left in "holding tanks" from the engines' last run. Airline officials insist that the kerosene vaporizes in the atmosphere and does not return to earth. But Eastern Airlines Captain William L. Guthrie, 58, disagrees—and has lost his job as a result.

A $37,000-a-year pilot with 30 years of flying experience, Guthrie says that the dumped fuel either falls on the runway, where it can become a "greasy and slippery" hazard for other aircraft, or else it contributes to airport smog that is "often so...

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