What is your company fuel policy? Do you have monitoring for fuel uplift? What is the company reaction to extra fuel uplift? Do you feel comfortable with the fuel policy and the redispatch flights? . Do you feel that dispatchers do their work efficiently or are they under the pressure of the management in deciding on the fuel, the alternate airports and the flight levels? . Are you as a pilot comfortable at high altitudes despite the facts about solar radiation? These are many questions that need feedback from pilots, dispatchers and management, as there is a tendency to push to save.
7p3i7lot,the answer is no, I'm not a barrister, but I think it is interesting to discuss this here and see if these issues need to be addressed by more strict rules and regulation, the reserves are reduced more and more and it is up to the pilot's to decide on these matters, but is this true these days?
Crew ( Captain and F/O ) review the fuel requirements for the flight and discuss such things that might influence the decision such as tankering requirements, winds aloft, likely allocation of levels, weather en-route and at destination, holding delays etc etc and come up with a number we can both agree on. Captain then decides on final fuel quantity.
Company undoubtably do monitor fuel uplift and usage but leave the final decision down to the Captain. If extra uplift is required so be it. Inevitably there will be occaisions when a higher fuel uplift is taken than might reasonably be considered economic. This can happen for any number of reasons in a dynamic operation. When this happens a short note on the flight operations paperwork will normally suffice. These days everybody is aware of the rules of the game, and economic considerations rank right up there with the paramount factors. I can honestly say that in 15 years of commanding airliners for the same company I have never been asked to explain a fuel uplift decision. There have been occaisions when I might not have been surprised by such a request, however I believe the company realize that my crew and I strive to act in their best interests at all times and accept the swings and roundabouts principal in this regard. Fuel uplift and usage is an important consideration but it is only one factor in many that combine to make for a safe and efficient operation. Guidance on all operational matters is disseminated to crews on a regular and frequent basis, and if an adverse trend appeared to be developing in respect of fuel uplift or anything else it would normally be advised by this medium. In my case I feel totally happy with my companies fuel policy as the final decision rests with the Captain in all circumstances.
In the company I work for dispatchers do not decide the fuel load, the flight level, or the alternate airports. Recommendations and suggestions may be put forward, but the ultimate decision rest with the Captain.
Solar radiation is an issue that has taken on some prominence in recent years with regards to possible health risks associated with crews exposure to additional radiation at high altitudes for extended duration. In the UK it is now a requirement that airlines maintain records of each individuals exposure profile. There is ongoing research into the actual or perceived risks of exposure and no doubt further guidance will be issued as knowledge increases in this area. Personally I still select cruising levels based on the comfort and efficiency of the individual flight. In circumstances where two levels may each offer some compromise I would probably select the lower these days. Other people may have very different views. Again the company have never questioned my decision in such matters nor have I heard of them doing so to others.
There is always a tendancy to "push to save" it is a competitive environment. it should be remembered that Crews are very much at the forefront of that drive and it is wrong to assume that striving for efficiency is something alien to crewmembers. Most of the suggestions that seek such savings actually originate from the flightdeck and cabin crews themselves.
Nobody is going to get everything right all the time, not the managing director nor the Captains nor the cabin crew members etc. However what is important is that everybody is aware of the goals and tries their best to achieve the best results required of their individual or team function. in the case of an aircraft captain they ought to be regarded as managers in their own right. they are responsible for a team of individuals and for delivering a safe and profitable ( where possible ) result for the company as a whole. In a well run company individuals undertaking this or any position of responsibility would be selected for their demonstrated skills or potential ability and as such should be given the latitude to enable them to perform this function.
Hey, Johnman: I turn no wheels unless I am completely comfortable. Nobody is pressured to do anything that isn't completely safe and legal. And you know why? Besides having a survival instinct, we have a union!
Perhaps I misread the intent of your post. Sorry. As for our major US airline we haver standard fuel loads for each aircraft, destination, weight, routing, wx conditions as well as extra for contingencies (ATC delays, single runway operations etc). The Captain and dispatcher must agree on the fuel load before the flight is released. I have never seen a situation where the Captain asked for more upload and was denied by our company. I hope it is that way at most airlines because the pennies saved by skimping on fuel (when deemed necessary by the PIC of course) are not worth the cost of needless diversions or worse an accident due to a low fuel situation. Hope this helps.
In our company the Flight Plans normally come with a recommended Block Fuel figure depending on which airports are being used. This is not always the case, but the reason is mostly the cost of the fuel. I guess this is more likely the case on short/medium haul flights. Otherwise, as mentioned by some others, we discuss the days variables and then decide (together) which MIN Block we'd like. Obviously the captain has final say as he/she carries the ultimate responsability. At our company, nobody will (to my knowledge) ever say anything if we fly around with "too much" fuel.
I can't think of any pilot who has ever worried about solar/cosmic radiation, but then again I've never spoken to Concorde pilots.
We do have monitoring, but not to the same extent on all fleets, but here I also know too little about what gets monitored and not.
The other question you had about REF Codes...
If you know the number of touch-down stripes, you can deduce the length of the runway. A bit theoretical, seeing that not all charts will give you that detailed info:
1 (stripe)= less than 900 m 2=900-1200m 3= 1200-1500m 4= 1500-2100m 6= 2100m or greater
Bealzebub, thank you for the complete answer, it is great that you are satisfied with your fuel policy, it looks healthy. Glueball, thatís the right thing to do. What roll does your Union play in this matter? 7p3i7lot,what is the difference in fuel load for single R/W operations and is it reflected in the policy or decided by the crew? Hello Square leg, thank you I've always valued your replies.
As long pilots are responsible for what fuel they decide to have in coordination with a good dispatcher who will make his study early to brief the pilots taking into considerations all factors affecting the flight, the flights will be healthy and safe. Pilots are fuel savers by nature and pride as they like to fly clean and they all try to achieve the best performance. The tendency to push in terms of reducing fuel loads always to the minimums and plan above optimum levels and to expose the pilots to cosmic radiation more frequently. Or to penalize the pilots for carrying extra fuel or to redipatch flights regardless of load and to land always with alternate+holding only fuel is not very healthy because pilots tend to push and stretch at the end of the flight as they like to make it to destination, where holdings delays unexpected conditions or other circumstances might be waiting for them. Till now there is no idea of the cabin bags weight in the cabin, most of the passengers are carrying heavy weights with them, which is not accounted for to avoid paying for the excess weight, all ignore this factor. The Pilot in command of any flight is the one responsible for the safety and he is the final authority onboard, so his decisions must be respected at all times as his decisions are a crew decisions using the CRM concept. These are more discussion points for more feedback.