After the Ryanair incident at Memmingen (see 'Ryanair too low' on this forum), my valued German colleagues seem to milk the BFU's september bulletin for all it's worth. The bulletin (PDF) notes an incident at Heraklion on September 21. A Boeing 737-800 declared an emergency because "after a while in holding and a go-around, fuel level went below required minimum".
A news item (German) by "Spiegel Online" identifies this as an Air Berlin flight, that landed safely after emergency was declared. The airline didn't answer requests for comment due to "ongoing investigations". Looks like Greek authorities are investigating.
I'm not trying to make any point. I just don't think that everything worked as expected when the Federal Authority for the Investigation of Aviation Accidents (BFU) labels this a "severe incident". And this is the "news" section here, right?
The BFU (German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation) have to rate it as an "serious incident" acc. REGULATION (EU) No 996/2010 ( investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation). See ANNEX (List of examples of serious incidents)
I think that it would be a overkill in the "news" section if we would report every item which is labeled as "serious incident" by any federal authority worldwide.
- I would imagine it would have declared an emergency and that probably automatically triggers that classification for BFU, although I suppose it could have just missed the orphans' home. I haven't bothered to translate either the BRU or the 'Daily Mirror' auf Deutsch
Originally Posted by depone
we'd be on page five by now
- watch this space
A few more facts would be nice, rather than drama. I reckon holding and a g/a would put most into a 'shortage'. There may well be drama yet to come, but we will see. Where is the duty METAR poster?
UPDATE: With acks to AvHerald, "An Air Berlin Boeing 737-800, registration D-ABKJ performing flight AB-2242 from Munich (Germany) to Heraklion (Greece), was on approach to Heraklion's runway 09 when the crew aborted the approach and entered a hold for about 15 minutes before commencing the approach to runway 09. The aircraft however went around on final approach, climbed to FL110 and declared emergency reporting low fuel. The aircraft subsequently landed safely at Heraklion.
Germany's BFU reported in their monthly bulletin the aircraft landed below required final fuel reserve, Greece has opened an investigation into the serious incident. The reason(s) for the aborted approach and go-around were not mentioned."
I find it somewhat sobering to read such obviously ill-recherched pieces of journalism - it makes one wonder how trustworthy other articles on themes one knows next to nothing about are.
Anyway, for the benefit of the odd journalist who might have a read here:
The fuelling requirements for the flight in question are as follows.
-Fuel for starting the engines, running the APU and taxiing to the Runway (known as Taxi Fuel); usually a standard amount that might depend on the departure airport.
-Fuel to fly from departure airport to destination airport. This is calculated for each flight individually and takes into account the exact route, flight level, winds, temperature and aircraft mass. It also takes into account possible aircraft malfunctions that while they are legal to fly with might cause a higher fuel burn. This amount is known as Trip Fuel.
-5% of the Trip Fuel to cover for inaccurate winds, a less optimal flight level flown or other contingencies - therefore known as Contingency Fuel.
-Fuel to get from the destination to the farthest planned alternate, again taking into account the items listed for Trip Fuel - this amount is unsurprisingly called Alternate Fuel.
-And fuel required to hold at 1500ft above the Alternate Airport for 30 minutes. This is the oft-mentioned Final Reserve.
Sum all these mentioned items up, and You get the legal minimum fuel that needs to be in the tanks before beginning a flight - less is not allowed by law. This amount of fuel is called Minimum Block Fuel (or Min Block for short).
Then there is a thing called Extra Fuel, which the Commander can decide to take along if he is so inclined. Factors that tend to increase the amount of extra fuel taken are bad weather at some point along the route, expected heavy traffic or other things that leads the Commander to expect delays during the flight. Also, a difference in fuel prices between departure and destination might influence this decision.
So to sum it up: It is required to have Min Block in the tanks when starting the engines. It is not required to have anything on top on board, although it is usually prudent. And it is required to have the Final Reserve in the tanks after landing. Nothing more.
Now, when is it required to notify ATC of a low fuel state? The first call will be made when it is to be anticipated that the present clearance will allow one to land with more than Final Reserve on board but any delay will cause the fuel state on landing to be less - this is NOT an emergency call but just a heads up containing the words "Minimum Fuel". An emergency needs to be declared when the calculated fuel on board after landing at the nearest adequate aerodrome is below Final Reserve.
Let us now look at the flight in question. It has obviously started the engines and taxied to the departure runway (using the Taxi Fuel), then flew to Heraklion and made one approach (using the Trip Fuel). The subsequent go-around will then be covered by whatever is left of the Contingency Fuel and the Alternate Fuel. And now a decision had to be made: stay at Heraklion for a landing or proceed to an alternate (typically Chania). If a landing at Heraklion is not considered doubtful for whatever reason, there is no reason to burn up more fuel to get to the Alternate (remembering one just needs Final Reserve after landing!), so one might well choose to stay. But then the presumed second go-around will eat up more of the Alternate Fuel - so it is indeed prudent and reasonable to at least declare Minimum Fuel (the difference to an emergency we have just seen!) to get priority for landing.
So - from what has been written, there is no reason to believe that there was something illegal about this flight. As BOAC has said, it all worked as designed and the aircraft got on the ground safely.
Last edited by Tu.114; 16th Dec 2012 at 20:00.
Reason: Name added for the final 30 minutes worth of fuel
Tu114, Someone should have sent the equivalent of your post to the Spanish Press after the Valencia debacle, but given that they acted as politically motivated puppets & ignored the much more serious Lan Chile situation, I doubt it would silenced the strident calls for investigation from their paymasters.
Tu.144: there is no reason to believe that there was something illegal about this flight
No at all, luckily EASA stands for "European Aviation SAFETY Agency".
Though, I am surprised to notice so many low fuel situations with European carriers. Despite all their [JAA/EASA] additional, would be painstaking, regulatory (and questionable) requirements, thorough ATPL written tests, mandatory English proficiency tests, etc., etc. Maybe they lack some simple common sense.
judging from Your location, You seem to be based in Argentina. Allow me one honest question, for I do not know how things are done in Your part of the world: is there any area of jurisdiction that would have required the flight in question to carry more fuel, had it taken place within it? I cannot help but noticing as well that on a day when several of the low fuel cases You allude to occured, there was also a non-European aircraft among those affected.
What would be interesting to know was what was the weather forecast for Heraklion as that would determine whether the Captain loaded a sensible fuel load.
I well remember a trip to Heraklion years ago where the forecast was for very strong crosswinds winds so I loaded more fuel than usual which I needed as after two go arounds on R/W 27 I diverted to Chania. Cannot remember what fuel I arrived with but remember waiting hours for pax to be coached to Chania and then running out of hours halfway back to UK where another crew had already been positioned on another flight. All of this in the middle of the night of course.
It is landing fuel that matters, not shut down, although the tech log will probably be used by 'management' (gawd bless 'em) and certainly was by engineering in BA. So, if they landed with 1200, the MAYDAY was 'prudent' but as someone said earlier - "Nothing to see, move along please"'.