False: A video shows an airplane accidentally releasing 'chemtrails' while stationary at an airport.

By: Anurag Baruah
March 23 2023

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False: A video shows an airplane accidentally releasing 'chemtrails' while stationary at an airport.


The Verdict False

The video shows a Japanese airplane burning off excess oil from its auxiliary power unit.

Claim ID 631e77f9


Conspiracy theories involving artificial global weather modification and climate change regularly trend on social media, particularly chemtrails: supposed white lines in the sky left behind by airplanes. Theories abound that these lines are evidence of toxic chemicals sprayed by aircraft in the sky, intended to control the weather and people's minds, reduce population, spread COVID-19, and even distribute vaccines. Various photos and videos are used as so-called proof to claim that chemtrails exist and are used to modify global weather systems and induce climate change artificially. 

One such video going viral on Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok shows a Japan Airlines plane releasing thick white fumes at an airport and claims that it shows a pilot accidentally releasing chemical substances or chemtrails. This video has repeatedly gone viral since 2021 and has recently begun circulating once again.

However, the video actually shows a Japanese airplane burning excess oil after heavy maintenance work. The fumes are not evidence of the aircraft carrying toxic chemicals to be sprayed in the sky.

In Fact

We conducted a reverse image search on keyframes of the viral video and found the same video uploaded on YouTube on August 4, 2020. The description of the video, titled "Japan Airlines APU Fire," states that it shows the burning of excess oil that could have been left behind in the plane's auxiliary power unit (APU) after heavy maintenance work.

Logically contacted independent civil aviation expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan, who confirmed that the video shows excess oil burning during maintenance, saying, "it will be a blowout cycle to remove excess oil during maintenance." 

BBC disinformation journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh also debunked the claim on Twitter on March 18, 2023, stating that the video shows "a Japan Airlines plane burning off excess oil in its Auxiliary Power Unit (APU)."

The white lines left in the wake of aircraft in the sky are water-based "contrails." This is condensed water vapor that can remain in the sky for hours. According to the BBC, they "are formed when water vapor and fine soot particulates from burning jet fuel freeze into ice crystals." Whether they persist or disappear in the sky depends on the humidity. Logically has previously debunked multiple claims involving chemtrails, which have been repeatedly linked to various other conspiracy theories to make false claims. 

The Verdict

The viral video shows a Japanese airplane burning oil excesses that may remain in the APU after heavy maintenance work. The claim that the video shows the aircraft accidentally releasing chemtrails is an example of a conspiracy theory with no scientific basis. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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