View Full Version : BA's Fuel Policy & League Tables, safe or not?

27th Apr 2006, 12:26
I fly for BA.

We are under constant pressure to carry the legal minimum ammount of fuel fuel.

A recentlt introduced procedure is to ACARS the crew if the projected ZFW has dropped with around half an hour to departure, so that we can reduce our fuel onload even further.

A colleague flying SYD-BKK recently was faced with a tricky diversion and landed in Phuket with 2 Tonnes remaining.......not a lot in a B744. Oh and he had elected to take extra fuel..............2 tonnes extra!

Also, in addition to the constant pressure to reduce fuel carriage to the minimums, BA also keeps, and publishes, a "League Table" to highligh to pilots how their excess fuel carriage compares to their colleagues.

Of course that is "excess" departure fuel, not "excess" arrival fuel!!

What do the other professionals on this forum think of BA's policy? How does it compare to your airline?

Hand Solo
27th Apr 2006, 12:52
I don't know why you're worrying about the new ZFW procedure. I have yet to meet a single 747 pilot or any dispatcher who has seen fuel reduced in this way. It just doesn't happen. If you don't like the fuel figure take more. I always do and have never been overruled by another crew member except to take even more extra fuel. The BKK incident is unfortunate but having your destination close due weather and your alternate close due to a broken aircrft on the same day is hardly something you can plan for except by choosing another alternate, an option which remains open to you at the briefing stage by simply asking for a flight plan with a different alternate. I have never had one refused. In short, if you want more fuel, take more. If you worry about league tables then join the majority of your colleagues who give them the scant attention they deserve.

27th Apr 2006, 12:58
Don`t know why you are so worried , 5 years on the airbus , l/h seat , always take a sensible amount of fuel and could`nt tell you what my special fuel code for the table is , and have never been contacted about my excess fuel

Da Dog
27th Apr 2006, 13:30
In all my years at BA I have NEVER come under any pressure on fuel and only know of 1 individual who has been called to chat about it, and they were renowned for loading fuel even on a CAVOK day all around the destination. Like most BA pilots I don't trust da management as far as I could throw them, but I can't agree with you.

As far at the ZFW policy goes I have never seen anyone use it, it is after all something dreamt up in the office to justify a management uplift

Also could you point me in the direction of where and in which publication BA publishes the so called famous "league table"?

You also ask about other people’s opinion on BAs policy, yet don't give any details on it. What do you think people are?........... Mind readers?

The more I read your post the more I think you’re a journo trawling for information

27th Apr 2006, 15:29
I have been 18 years in BA both SH and LH. I have never had my fuel carriage questioned.

I looked at the fuel tables 5 years ago out of curiosity and know of nobody who reads them let alone takes any notice of them.

It was emphasised during command training to take extra fuel if I felt it was warranted. BA's emphasis is on making everybody aware of the cost implications of excess fuel carriage and use their common sense and experience to make their judgement.

The last minute drop in ZFW procedure is a waste of paper as nobody bothers to implement yet another hare-brained idea from somebody who has only ever flown a desk.

The thread and first post are both stupid and inaccurate.

27th Apr 2006, 15:29
In 7 years with the company I have never met a skipper who didnt take what he (or I) were happy with as a fuel load. I've met about 3 who have seen a fuel table (& that was only for curiosities sake.) Our managers may not be geniuses (!) but they are not daft enough to push people to take less fuel than is necessary.

Edited to say MM - we crossed maybe you were one of the curious ones!

27th Apr 2006, 15:34
I fly for BA.

We are under constant pressure to carry the legal minimum ammount of fuel fuel.

I speak as a BA Captain and presently on the 747-400. My perception is of no pressure whatsoever.

What BA are doing is preparing, using all the latest technological processes available, an accurate fuel plan taking into account the dynamics.

What is wrong with that?

As to the fuel decision, I never feel any pressure to take Flight Plan Fuel. I see it as a baseline number from which I vary the required fuel load upwards based on sensible crew decisions following a review of the data. In Shorthaul, I regularly came up with reasons to take an extra 10 minutes fuel. In Longhaul, 10 minutes extra fuel is rarely worth it, as you will have burnt about half of it on arrival in carrying it. In LH, your ability to uplift extra fuel can occasionally be limited, but that's a separate issue.

Who do you feel pressurised by? Surely not the management, all they are doing is pointing out the obvious and asking us to make sensible decisions. If someone always takes 'an extra x for mum' when the wx is CAVOK, then the office are right to ask him to explain, imho.

As to league tables, I know there is a folder in ftd, is it ever updated? How do I find out my code? And the answer is don't know and don't care. Adopt the same approach and you'll find there is no pressure.

[edited to add : crossed with the previous 2 posts]

27th Apr 2006, 15:55

Stop being such a girl about it and worrying about nothing.

I'm BA LHS and have never once been asked to explain my fuel decisions and don't even know what my code is.

As for the ZFW reduction, I have not had a single ACARS at LHR and the ones at JFK have been well after the fueller has gone.

Now, back to saving my pension.

Of course it could be a fishing wind up?

27th Apr 2006, 16:06
Often wish I had copied the previous techlog pages from the 777 I operated about four years ago. The aircraft had done ten sectors around Africa and the Middle East carrying our wonderful prime minister. With a variety of management captains the MINIMUM arrival fuel was 30 tons! The interesting one was a ten minute sector with 32 tons remaining. The aircraft arrived at LHR with 36 tons.

We almost didn't have to refuel for our sector!

One rule for them, one for us!

27th Apr 2006, 16:14
Except for the one with Blair on just before the Gulf war 2.

But we won't, ahem, mention that.

27th Apr 2006, 17:02

Edited as no longer relevent as previous post amended........

27th Apr 2006, 17:14
Ok ok

My mistake. The reply was of course to the first poster and not Topbunk

Apologies with sugar on top to Bunk

27th Apr 2006, 17:18
Apologies with sugar on top to Bunk - not eye drops, then BTSM...................

Good to see Flight Deck scrapping! Willy will be pleased.

Da Dog
27th Apr 2006, 17:23
FLWM Don't think anyone is scrapping, just sorting out a misunderstanding;) and if you can read I think you will find the only one not singing from the same sheet is the starter of the thread:{

27th Apr 2006, 17:37
Don't let yourself be pressurised.
The company I work for produces a league table about once a year. It's quite interesting to see how much fuel others (but no names given) carry back to home base. There is no pressure on individuals after the list is published, and even if there was I assume that anybody worth their salt would ignore it. Only the captain, on the day, can decide what is an acceptable fuel load for the flight.
I can't see any harm in any company giving you it's best estimate of ZFW. We get our ZFW on the cirrus flight plan just like BA, because we are a franchise that has eleected to use the FICO/sword/cirrus system. FICO doesn't appear to allow for number of children booked, which means that a school holiday flight to a holiday destination like Canaries will typically be 2 tons (out of 15 tons) lighter than the latest FICO prediction. So, it is quite normal to load less fuel than suggested on the Cirrus after a double check with the red cap in these exceptional circumstances. Surely it's part of good flight planning to obtain the best guess at ZFW, because the fuel burn depends on it - especially on long flights.
So, well done BA for trying to give an accurate ZFW. Pity that the atmosphere and culture of intimidation makes some nervous about carrying out their normal duties.

False Capture
27th Apr 2006, 17:41

You're aged 46 and your first BA thread is about not having enough fuel.

Have you just joined BA from an air force tanker squadron by any chance?

27th Apr 2006, 17:52
Hey, onanairbus,
Why don't you engage brain before posting. If you think you are under pressure to operate to some management edict, and you feel troubled by 'it', then go and speak to the people that are driving the initiative. Then, if you feel that, IYHO, pressure is being applied, say so, then either go to BALPA or IPA or call your lawyer. Can I recommend that you do not air your (mis-judged?) washing in public? Fuel is money, so it is no surprise that BA are keen to minimise it's use,what's your problem with that. All of my fuel decisions above cirrus have been supported - without exception. You may be surpised to note that there has been little response to your thread from low-cost operators. I wonder why? Finally, what corellation are you trying to draw between the ZFW ACARS procedure and the BKK 744 diversion?


27th Apr 2006, 18:20
A colleague of mine was convinced that when a league table was being run in my company that he'd beaten the system by carrying as much as he wanted at all times then lowering his average by taking minimum fuel when the company wanted it tankered!!;)

27th Apr 2006, 18:45
Looks like your BA colleagues do not agree with you on this one. Allow a non-BA flt crew to confirm what your colleagues are saying.
I don't know much about the operations of BA. But I have been exposed to small number of operators and beleive you me most of the respectable airlines, BA been one of them operate in a very similar manner.
If you feel under pressure I am almost certain that YOU are the one pressurizing yourself.
Rules are there to be used as guidelines for the wise but to be followed strictly by idiots.

puff m'call
27th Apr 2006, 19:49
It's just the same out here in the Land of sand, sitting on the stand SDT-30 the ZFW is given to us over the radio and we adjust the fuel load accordingly.

However, we can load more fuel if it's deamed operationally required, ie weather etc.

It does get rather stupid though and it depends who's doing your training, some people adjust it and reduce by even 100kg! :eek:

Then some bright spark comes up with the fuel saving idea ( about an egg cup full) of not starting the APU as you taxi in until you are about 2 mins from the stand...great.

Then they leave the APU running all bloody day while the A/C sits at the gate!! That makes sence then.........NOT.:confused:

Keep dicovering :)

27th Apr 2006, 20:20
Can't find the reference at the moment but I'm sure there was as AIC in which the CAA vetoed any company keeping fuel league tables or similar, The 'threat' was quite pointed stating that an operator would put it's licence at risk if they didn't follow the directive.

Someone tell me I wasn't dreaming!!

27th Apr 2006, 20:34
When I flew the DC-10 on the N-register the company I worked for used to publish "absolutely without prejudice" fuel burn tables on a monthly basis.

Now, unlike our BA colleagues, I was very interested in these tables for I wanted to learn how to operate my aircraft as efficiently as possible. I learned a lot of good techniques and was usually in the top three but I could never quite get up to Jack's standard! He was always at the top and it was almost impossible to get him to part with his deep secrets.

Provided that league tables are used in a non-threatening way then I think they are really good at getting yourself up to speed.

However, if all you want to do is p*ss fuel out the back the way you have always done and can't be bothered to get really efficient then do remember that we are now up to $74 a barrel and pensions have to be paid.

27th Apr 2006, 21:09

When I (heavens how I dislike that phrase!) joined BA we had the SWORD flight planning system, the forerunner to CIRRUS. Nobody trusted it and when I joined even the trainers took more fuel 'just for mother' and told trainees that the only people who took 'SWORD fuel' were management.

The company have spent much effort educating us in the whole philosphy behind the planning and made us all very aware of the cost of unjustified fuel carriage.

I know that I and my colleagues, almost to a man, take fuel carriage very seriously but have no hesitation taking extra, and in long haul we are talking several tonnes, BUT I have never in recent times seen extra fuel carried without good reason.

I do recall being told by the man himself (a manager since disgraced and left for pastures new) that he and another manager 'competed' to see who could be the most frugal captain in terms of fuel carriage, to the point of reducing flight plan contingency to absolute legal mimimums. I call that plain stupidity when one upmanship replaces common sense.

Conversely weaker individuals, such as onanairbus, can perceive league tables as unfair pressure. In BA they are not. For all our management's other faults in the case of flight safety and fuel carriage rarely will a captains decision be questioned providing one was making the best judgement given the facts on the day. The last person I can recall being questioned was a now retired 747 plonker who routinely carried an extra 20 tonnes. Even then I do not believed he stopped doing so!

The new procedure for making last minute changes by sending through the latest ZFW at ETD - 0.30 (or whatever the time is) sounds good in practice but in reality the fueller has usually gone by then and it pales into insignificance when at virtually every station in that land of frugal energy use, the USA, the APU is left running and ground power almost never used during a transit or nightstop.

False Capture
27th Apr 2006, 21:15
I learned a lot of good techniques and was usually in the top three but I could never quite get up to Jack's standard! He was always at the top and it was almost impossible to get him to part with his deep secrets.
The place to be in a fuel league is in the middle, unless you think you're better than the rest.;)

27th Apr 2006, 22:37
..have you got offanairbus yet to view the vitriole?


PS M Mouse, what a scholar.

27th Apr 2006, 22:47
Take the fuel load your company wants.

Divert at the first need to do soe.

Things seem to change...Strange....???.

Good luck..........

27th Apr 2006, 23:33
What was the close in alternate BA flight planned on which had its single runway blocked?
It is very lucky that the Captain had that two tons extra if indeed the facts are accurately reported.
I wonder if anybody makes a table of arrival fuels at LHR or anyother place and publishes it.
It seems adverse weather and an inaccurate ZFW and perfect ATC and optimum diversion flight levels are the only considerations used for an alternate fuel load in computor flight planning.
After a double Cat 3 equipment failure in Switzerland (of all places), plus back up ILS generator failure! Is it little wonder pilots do not trust their ZFW as spot on or their on the ground equipment to remain servicable or their flight ops to inform them immediately of close in diversions or destinations going out for any reason other than weather.
Last time I checked there were no gas stations in the sky for airliners.

27th Apr 2006, 23:57
I have seen graphs in BA inhouse fleet magazines where departure fuel over flight plan minimum and arrival fuel over flight planned arrival fuel were compared.

The articles always make interesting reading but serve to better inform rather than coerce.

The alleged jumbo story may have an element of truth. If it was BKK then Utapao is sometimes used as the fuel alternate if weather is suitable. I find the alleged figure of 2 tonnes remaining a little hard to believe and I have actually seen or heard nothing about such a diversion although it may be true. I will try and find out.

28th Apr 2006, 08:46
As a recently retired BA Airbus captain and an nascent lo-co captain I'll just chuck in my ha'p'orth:

I usually took SWORD/CIRRUS fuel but never felt pressure to do so, always larded the decision with dollops of airmanship, experience and common sense (don't we all?). I did glance at the league tables once or twice out of idle curiosity.

Having kept a personal record of fuel decisions and actual burn vs. planned burn during my early years on the Airbus, I observed the following: There were very few delays at out-stations so SWORD/CIRRUS outbound was sufficient for the overwhelming majority of sectors; for shorthaul sectors of up to 2.5 hours, the carriage of extra fuel cost nothing measurable when weighed against the other variables; unless it was very early in the morning or very late in the evening, a wise captain shouldn't return to LHR with anything less than 20 minutes holding capability over and above diversion and reserve fuel. Ergo, if statistical contingency gave me 20 minutes, fine; if it didn't, on it went. Strong winds or widespread fog and LVPs are a different game and usually required a tonne extra or more.

No-one ever invited me for coffee.

28th Apr 2006, 09:20
Three hour delay ex Gatwick due to flat batteries and fuel filter changes, and also a fuel discrepancy of 3500kgs. The reason? Prior to this sector the a/c had been allocated as the standby a/c following its last sector and not used. However the APU had been left running during this period and finally shut down after the 3500kgs in the left tank had been burnt. The batteries then obviously took the dc load and ended up flat.

A fuel filter change was required as the left engine also uses the APU fuel line. At least the hydraulics were not pressurised during towing as they use the left tank fuel to cool the fluid and operation for any period without fuel is a big no-no.

The powers that be tried to cover-up the episode, and it was only the honest refueller who suggested that from the fuel he put in the tank it must have been empty.

Many years earlier on an early morning Trident departure from C28 (those of you who remember the stands at LHR) we passed eight aircraft on the way to ours, all with the APU's running (throughout the night) and totally deserted, having not yet been allocated to a service.

Comments to our then fleet management that perhaps an engineering apprentice could be given the job of checking that all aircraft are fully shut down after their last flight of the day. As usual with most suggestions from the shop floor it was dismissed as too difficult.

Perhaps if there had been a management bonus associated with reducing overnight fuel burns something might just have been done.

Full Circle, or perhaps Fuel Circle???

Best foot forward
28th Apr 2006, 11:49
Sorry haven't had time to read the whole thred,so I might be repeating whats already been said. They probably lost more money in the one diversion than they could ever hope to recoup by using min fuel everywhere. Thats the trouble with putting bean counters incharge of anything other than counting beans.

As far as publishing a league table, two things come to mind, have a competition to see who can come last, and, could this not be seen as harrasment and bullying. Its fine pointing out someones failings in the eyes of managment on a one to one basis but to publish it is a bit much. BA could probably save more money by not having to employ someone to monitor the fuel loads on the acft(that they don't actually fly on) than by having a draconian min fuel policy.

Whats next a league table for sick days, MORs, tech deffects, cups of coffee drunk on a flight.

Captain Airclues
28th Apr 2006, 12:53
Best foot forward

It might be best to take some time to read the whole thread before jumping in with insults. The league tables are available should anyone wish to see how they compare with the fleet average. There are no names on the list, only codes, and only each individual knows his own code.
I agree with many of my ex-colleague in that I have never heard of anyone being pressurised into taking minimum fuel. BA provides it's pilots with a vast amount of information with which to make their decisions, but the final decision is still theirs, and to the best of my knowledge, those decisions have always been supported by management. The only exception was a case where the decision was political (industrial grudge) rather than safety related.
I have been flying four engined longhaul aircarft for 37 years. In that time I have always carried whatever fuel is both safe and economic. I have never arrived short of fuel and have never been asked to explain my decisions to management.
If you get a spare moment, perhaps you should go back and read the entire thread.


28th Apr 2006, 13:43
Sorry haven't had time to read the whole thred(sic),so I might be repeating whats already been said.

So because your time is too precious to bother reading the thread, you pontificate about a subject you obviously know little about and WE have to waste our time reading that?

I see.

28th Apr 2006, 14:48
Best foot forward: it appears that your other foot is stuck in your mouth...:)

BTW we do have a league table for sick days, it's called EG300 :ugh:

Jetstream Rider
28th Apr 2006, 16:41
I agree completely with the "no pressure" posts above. I have never flown with a Captain who has been called into the office, or telephoned about fuel.

Even at Training Standards Captain I flew with had no hesitation whatsoever in taking extra when it was required. Indeed throughout my training, league tables were never mentiond and I only discovered them through the "grapevine". They are in a tatty folder in the corner and I have never seen anyone look at them.

As far as I know, they are Captains tables anyway, so "my" figures will not even exist. Most Captains I fly with let me take as much as I like on "my" sector and will give me guidance if appropriate - its all about being sensible. Took loads extra the other day on a longhaul trip, as the airport was due to shut for a short period and fog was forecast. In the end we got in burning LESS than planned fuel, so arrived with the extra intact - not a tinkle on the phone!

A member of the board I have spoken to did say that we should never feel pressure to take less fuel than we are happy with. We are paid to make those descisions, they are not. If it comes from the board, I doubt any of us have to worry.

28th Apr 2006, 18:47
False Capture:

"The place to be in a fuel league is in the middle, unless you think you're better than the rest".

The middle is the average. In order to establish an average everyone above it has to be above average and everyone below it has to be below average. To be exactly average is not a good place to be for one day you could be above average and the next day below average. This could be quite disturbing as any good psychologist will tell you!

I have always tried to be as professional as I can be and therefore have always tried (although not very hard) to be above the average. Since 1968 I have been assessed (in writing) as above the average. I am pleased to have retired at the age of 65 still in the top part of the spectrum.

If you are happy to spend the rest of your flying career just being average then good luck to you. Personally, I was still learning new tricks right up to the last time I put the park brake on at the end of my long and very successful career.

False Capture
28th Apr 2006, 22:33

What a difference between your post and that of Captain Airclues who very sensibly said that "league tables are available should anyone wish to see how they compare with the fleet average".

Not only is Captain Airclues a really nice guy but he's probably more successful than you ever were.

Fuel leagues are all about being in the middle (or average as you put it). Most pilots use them as helpful indicators as to how much fuel they carry in relation to their colleagues. Unfortunately, you get some idiots who think it's a competition to see if they can make it to the top of the league.

If you're competitive and you fancy yourself as some sort of ace then take up competition aerobatics.

By the way, if you reitired in "the top part of the spectrum" does that mean you're a former Test Pilot or even a Space Shuttle pilot?

28th Apr 2006, 22:52
I have always tried to be as professional as I can be and therefore have always tried (although not very hard) to be above the average. Since 1968 I have been assessed (in writing) as above the average. I am pleased to have retired at the age of 65 still in the top part of the spectrum.

If you are happy to spend the rest of your flying career just being average then good luck to you. Personally, I was still learning new tricks right up to the last time I put the park brake on at the end of my long and very successful career.

Well done JW411 on such a successful career. As a fellow survivor, I must say that I thought that we were all assessed as "above average". After all can you imagine what would happen to an airline management at a subsequent court of inquiry if they were found to have employed a "below average" pilot?

To return to the thread. Some years ago my company had in its employment a lovely man, Captain Y, based at Heathrow, who invariably carried excess fuel - he was a lifelong longhaul pilot. He was nagged about his habit on a regular basis by the flight manager.

One morning Y rang Captain X, the flight manager. "Hello X", he said. "I am just ringing to tell you that last night I took flight plan fuel." "That's wonderful news", said X. "Yes", said Y, "I'm ringing you from Manchester!"

Happy flying.


29th Apr 2006, 07:57
I have to agree with the thought that onan is a gutter journo looking for scraps. In 30 years of flying I have never heard of anyone being unduly pressurised to take the absolute minimum fuel on each and every occasion. We, in our moderately large airline here in UK, do have a carefully researched and well written fuel policy booklet but nowhere does it 'tell' us to stick to the PLOG fuel, regardless. It does point out, as you might expect, the costs of carrying extra fuel (moderately expensive) against the costs of the annual diversion rate (quite small)
Having said all that, I find on our European routes, using the longest SID and Star we almost always have a buffer of a few hundred kilos which gives one a warm feeling of confidence!

Swedish Steve
29th Apr 2006, 13:55
Speaking as a mere engineer who has dispatched BA Shorthaul aircraft for many years I must say that going back 10 years it was normal to add a tonne to the Sword figure. I reckon it happened on 90% of departures. Nowadays it is normal to take Cirrus fuel. With no bad weather around I reckon it happens on more than 90% of departures. So whether you agree with the table or not it has brought down the amount of fuel carried around Europe.

29th Apr 2006, 14:24
Swedish Steve

The end result may be as you describe, ie more people taking flight plan fuel more often. You have probably despatched me on several occasions over those years.

The reason for the change however has nothing whatsoever to do with the league tables, the vast majority of pilots never consult them.

It is much more to do with 2 other factors:

1. Education. A lot of effort has been put into explaining the rationale behind the fuel policy.

2. The old SWORD planning system did not use Statistical Contingency Fuel. It used a standard 15 minutes or 5% type of number. The new CIRRUS system uses Stat,Cont,Fuel, which can quite often give you 25 minutes contingency inbound to LHR - a figure that most of us can see as being sensible. Cirrus plans use actual reunways in use, whereas SWORD used normal dep runway and longest likely approach routing. Current aircraft FM(G)C's are also much more sophisticated than older versions.

So what I'm saying is that you shouldn't assign a reason to a perceived change in customer practice without knowing more detail.

29th Apr 2006, 15:22
Flaps One, that AIC that you were referring may be the "Special Check on Air Operators Fuel Planning Policies - Summer 2000" which can be seen at the Chirp website,

5.21 and 5.2.2 are the paras to read:

5.2.1 Company fuel planning policies varied between operators but nothing was seen that did not accord with the requirements of JAR-OPS 1 and its associated guidance material. Less easy to measure was the ‘company culture’, instructions by the operator on the priorities he xpected his aircraft commanders to apply such as whether or not to uplift Extra Fuel, to accept enforced delays or to make up for lost time, or to accept additional payload in place of slightly more generous calculations of Alternate or Contingency Fuel. Some operators were reported to have in place ‘league tables’ that ‘ranked’ commanders according to the amount of fuel they took on departure exceeding that calculated by the computer program.

5.2.2 The effect of keeping a league table as described exerts a form of pressure on each individual not to be shown up as being different from his colleagues in the fleet and vulnerable to attract attention from his fleet manager. Such perceived pressure is known to have resulted in pilots departing with less than that calculated by the computer-generated fuel plan so that their position in the table could be ‘improved’. To depart on a public transport flight with less than the flight plan fuel calculated in accordance with a program accepted by the Regulator as sound - and without good reason - is likely to be in breach of the terms and conditions under which the Air Operator Certificate was granted. In short, such practice places the continuance of the Certificate at risk.

I have flown with only one pilot who has reduced the fuel required as a result of the latest wacky ZFW idea, so they are out there!!

Also, Cirrus doesnt always get the planned runways correct, but thats just one of the reasons we get paid the big bucks, or should be paid the big bucks!!

2nd May 2006, 11:14
Although under no pressure from our Management I almost always amend the burn off, contingency (3% of fuel burn in most circumstances) and fuel required (to the nearest kilo!) if there is a change in ZFW. I then round the figure up to the nearest 100kg for the "fuel in tanks" figure, adding to this if necessary, although LIDO takes most things into account. I cannot think of a good reason to do otherwise.

False Capture
2nd May 2006, 15:55

"I almost always amend the burn off, contingency (3% of fuel burn in most circumstances) and fuel required (to the nearest kilo!) if there is a change in ZFW."

Even if the ZFW has gone down? Sounds like you're holding onto the refueller until everyone is onboard and you've got your final loadsheet.

By the way, I love your expression "almost always".:ok:

2nd May 2006, 17:32
Haven't you ever worked for a company in which you didn't get the final loadsheet until you were halfway out to the runway for take-off and it came through the ACARS?

I was not too thrilled to start with but it seemed to work.

3rd May 2006, 00:40
False Capture,

The only reason I said "almost always" was because on short sectors the difference in burn off is not worth making the effort.
"Even if the ZFW has gone down?" Always, but I am usually made aware of the changes when I report for duty so I rarely have to detain the fuel bowser - that would normally only happen on a "redispatch flight plan" when the normal contingency fuel is reduced.

3rd May 2006, 09:46
Our company has been providing a final ZFW figure for years. I have always complied with it as it seems eminently sensible to do so. If the ZFW goes down by 10 tonnes on a 12 hour sector the typical fuel burn will reduce by around 4 tonnes, on the basis of 3.5% per ton per hour. By reducing the fuel I arrive at the destination with the same reserve as I would have done had I had the original ZFW. If it was safe to go before the ZFW reduction, why should aspersions be cast on the safety of the flight after the ZFW reduction and commensurate reduction in fuel burn. By the same token, if the ZFW increases, our system allows us quickly to ascertain the increased fuel burn and we load the extra accordingly. Are those posters who call the system wacky not increasing the fuel load when the ZFW increases? Perhaps they don't even notice.

Our company also keeps league tables but no-one is ever invited to tea and biscuits to discuss them, as far as I am aware.

On the question of alternates, we have normal alternates and what are referred to as 'Fairweather alternates'. If the forecast weather at destination is worse than 3K and 1000', we must select an alternate other than the 'fairweather alternate'. This alternate is invariably further away than the 'fairweather', thereby giving us at least two options in the event of a diversion.

Jetstream Rider
3rd May 2006, 09:57
Big Mach - your company seems to have a good policy regarding alternates. As far the the ZFW thing goes in BA, yes we would do the same as you if ZFW goes up take more, if it goes down take less. The problem is the practicalities of it at the time. Keeping a fueller there "just in case" the ZFW goes down is not practical. If you lose 10 tonnes - sure that is significant. If you lose 700Kg, its not worth the effort to reduce your fuel load by 100Kg - that's what BA management want and in practice no one I know does it. ZFW's are rarely modified by 10 tonnes on my fleet - might be different for the Jumbo. Its about being sensible in my view. Fiddling with fuel to the last couple of hundred kilos is largely pointless - modifiying the load by your 4 tonne example above is sensible. However, if that is a last minute change and the fuel is on (ie cargo doesn't turn up by departure time) then its a cost you have to accept.

Hand Solo
3rd May 2006, 11:24
On theJumbo the ZFW rarely goes down by more than a tonne or two, which is 200 kgs worth of fuel. Thats less than the tolerance the refueller normally fuels us to!

3rd May 2006, 18:14
Hi Hand

Sorry to be naive, wouldn't the refueller put the requested fuel on board? i.e if you wanted 100 t that is what the fueller will give you. Sorry if I am off the mark, just interested in the answer. Ta:ok:

Hand Solo
3rd May 2006, 18:25
100 tonnes is, as I'm sure you know, 100,000kgs of fuel. Factor in a 0.2% error in the fuelers gauges and you have an extra 200kgs in no time at all. I'm sure there are all sorts of tolerances, both mechanical and human, which lead to us rarely having exactly the requested fuel figure on board when the fuelling is complete.

Swedish Steve
3rd May 2006, 18:29
Hi Hand
Sorry to be naive, wouldn't the refueller put the requested fuel on board? i.e if you wanted 100 t that is what the fueller will give you. Sorry if I am off the mark, just interested in the answer. Ta:ok:
Yes but on a B744 it is very difficult to get the fuel right. There are 8 tanks to fill to the nearest 100kg. The gauges go up and down for ages after you sw off the refuel valve. If they all go the wrong way you can be up 800 kg without trying. Some aircraft are failsafe to fuel to a figure. The B757 is the easiest. The A320 usually stops about 30kg short, the B767 always drops 200kg 5 minutes after you stop refuelling etc, But with pilots always wanting the correct figure +200kg -nothing it really depends how long youve got. If a refueller is getting your B744 right then he is taking a long time over it.

3rd May 2006, 18:31
Thanks for the prompt responce. So do you uplift in LTs / Gal etc? in order to get the right figure or just accept that there might be an error of say +/- 200 KG? I guess you have a fleet tolerance outside which you would get the fueller back to top it off / amend the perf data etc. Thanks again.

Jetstream Rider
3rd May 2006, 21:48
You never ask for an amount of Litres/Gallons/Kgs to be put on board, you always ask for what you want left in the tanks after refuelling. That way it's harder to make fuelling calculation errors. If we want to depart with 50 tonnes, we ask for 50 tonnes. On the B767 there is a 200Kg "wobbly bit". As stated above, 5 mins after fuelling the figure will drop 200Kg, so if you ask for 50 tonnes, you usually see 50,200Kg. If you see 50,000Kg its not worth worrying about.

The idea is to fuel to 2 tonnes less than required, wait for the updated ZFW and then load as much as required for the new weight, in case it has gone down. In practice this rarely happens as keeping the fueller there is not always possible, or the latest weight may come too late. ZFW rarely goes up enough to worry about extra fuel, but if it did you could call the fueller back.

3rd May 2006, 22:05
I have worked for an airline where scary attitudes abounded. One was to load fuel in litres, after asking the refueller for the S.G. Ever tried that? And what success rate did you have? He never knew it. I've always diverted on what the gauges told me, so why not start the flight with what the gauges tell you. Cross check the litres is always a good idea, but it's a bit late after the fueller has disappeared to find that the gauges are less than you wanted.
Another scary attitude was that most destinations were CAT 3, and most alternates of those airfields were CAT 3 also, so why take any extra fuel, even in less than CAT weather?! Ouch.

B A Lert
5th May 2006, 03:37
The carriage of what is deemed to be "surplus fuel" has and always will be a vexed and much discussed issue. As well as holding the pilots accountable for the excess uplifted, does BA have a regime in place for the scientific and logical calculation of the estimated ZFW that is to be used for the initial FPL, and do they have standards in place that would call for a new FPL in the case of the est ZFW being more than a specified amount over or under? When the final ZFW is known, is there a procedure in place to determine why variations exceeding a certain number have occurred?

Should more accurate ZFW's were prepared at the planning stage, then surely one would see a reduction in the excess fuel carried? Isn't this about working smarter and giving all necessary confidence to the people who order the fuel and are ultimately accountable? Until standards are set and reviewed further along and up the food chain, the use of so-called "league tables" is an unfair practice.

Airbus Unplugged
5th May 2006, 07:17
Having a department to calculate the zfw to the nearest 0.00496 tonne would be a uniquely BA solution.

Spending millions of pounds and hundreds of staff to save 50p.

Hand Solo
5th May 2006, 11:02
does BA have a regime in place for the scientific and logical calculation of the estimated ZFW that is to be used for the initial FPL

Yes they do.

do they have standards in place that would call for a new FPL in the case of the est ZFW being more than a specified amount over or under?

Yes again.

Jetstream Rider
6th May 2006, 12:41
Despite some things that we can complain about at BA, which are widely publicised and not for discussion in this thread, BA has a good, adequate way of determining ZFW and the required fuel. They also have a robust fuel policy. Despite the fact that we might not reduce fuel load by 200Kgs, we are pretty efficient and above all safe as an airline with fuel policy, and individual Captains descisions. The original poster was way off the mark. Yes BA has league tables, but in practice they are for the number crunchers to justify their jobs, not a pressure on the line. As I said above, they weren't even mentioned in training.

9th May 2006, 21:31
Just humble SLF3, but if I were top of a league for carrying less fuel than my colleagues it would lead me to suspect that I was flying closer to the wind (excuse the phraseology) than they were - and I would then tend to carry more fuel as a result.
Perhaps a league table can help those at both the top and bottom to improve their performance?

9th May 2006, 22:03
But it is not a question of one pilot taking less fuel than another. The basic fact is that no pilot that I know off would ever take less than PLOG (flight plan) fuel.

What I am talking about is learning techniques in how to do better than PLOG fuel. In other words, I try arrive at destination with MORE fuel than the other guys who cannot be bothered to see if they can do better.

When I am talking about leaugue tables, I am talking about the actual burn (ramp fuel minus on-block fuel) and absolutely not taking less than forecast.

I can well remember saving 3000 lbs of PLOG fuel on an LAX - LGW flight just to be told that I had to do a re-route around the West country because Concorde was headed for New York!

This seemed quite unreasonable to me and I asked ATC if they were incapable of vectoring Concorde and I to keep us apart.

With great reluctance they agreed to this. Next day, Fred Laker sent for me and told me that London ATC had submitted a violation on me and asked me what I had to say.

I said that if London ATC were unable to sort out their priorities then that was hardly my problem and that, on the plus side, I had saved him 3000 lbs of fuel.

I heard no more.

16th May 2006, 14:36
Look here (http://www.people.co.uk/news/news/tm_objectid=17075737%26method=full%26siteid=93463-name_page.html)
Looks like some journos have picked up on this thread....:mad:

16th May 2006, 19:17
As these are anonymous forums the origins of the contributions may be opposite to what may be apparent. In fact the press may use it, or the unscrupulous, to elicit certain reactions.

Err - where have I read that before??

21st May 2006, 16:08
The whole title and premise of this thread ("safe or not?") carries a scent of ignorance, because fuel safety is not a binary issue. It's a matter of statistical margins, isn't it?

Even if you carried huge reserves, there is still a very very remote probability, an extremely adverse circumstance, that you run dry.

And money spent tankering excess fuel is money unavailable for other, more meaningful, safety measures. :hmm:

27th May 2006, 22:24
Back to the top of thread.........BA fuel policy safe or not? Yes, I expect that it is, but when I left BA SWORD planning always had a minimum of 15 minutes contingency built in, often a lot more. I know nothing about CIRRUS but the margins must be thinner. That's statistically ok, but what pressure is it producing, particularly for long range operations? What about this, that I heard today, at about 2000Z northwest bound in Delhi FIR?: BA16 complains for many minutes about vectors to lose 9 minutes to fit into traffic overflying Kabul FIR, expects priority as 'already airborne for 5 hours', as opposed to shorthaul traffic, i.e their sectors only around 6 hours or so.Quote 'we often only carry 9 minutes contingency fuel'. A long and embarrassing exchange on a busy frequency with a pressurised controller. This was unacceptable, you either factor in the variables and accept and manage the variables along the route, or tech stop/divert. I flew SIN-LHR many times on low reserves, but whatever the new criteria are now, don't take it out on the controllers. BA never once queried my fuel uplifts, but on SIN-LHR you simply cannot get enough fuel on unless you insist that a (small) amount of cargo is offloaded.That was never queried either, maybe some people should try that?

28th May 2006, 04:48
Perhaps one of our KLM or Martinair colleagues would care to comment on their airlines (entirely legal) 'decision point' procedure......:E

Shaka Zulu
28th May 2006, 08:19
Hear Hear!!

Fuel Policy seems to work okay to me. Fact of life that fuel is an expensive commodity. It's our judgement to uplift the fuel required for the flight.
And since it is judgement one can try and make the decision more informed by producing stats. Up to you to be introspective or do nothing with it.