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Qantas Fuel Mayday

Old 22nd Jul 2022, 03:48
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Originally Posted by Dick Smith View Post
All ICAO needed was a word which made the situation 100% clear to ATC but not the publicly well known Mayday.

Could be "Perth - we have alpha fuel"

The media will beat this up every time Mayday is mentioned as if everyone is about to die! Glad I don't own an airline!
The benefit of having to cal Mayday is that it publicly names and shames operators who send out planes with not enough fuel.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 03:50
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Originally Posted by BuzzBox View Post
Lead Balloon:



Yep, but ICAO chose to use the term "Mayday", a word that gets everyone's attention, as intended. Get over it. They also chose to use fixed reserve as the trigger; a well known concept that is already defined in the regulations and which is supposed to be kept intact except in cases of emergency. What other quantity of fuel remaining would have been acceptable to the critics? Ten minutes, five minutes? Perhaps a pilot should wait until fuel exhaustion occurs before declaring an emergency? After all, the aircraft is flying perfectly well right up to the point where the noise stops, so no emergency exists before then, right? Sarcasm aside, at what point does a low fuel situation become an 'emergency'? History shows that leaving it up to a pilot to determine such a nebulous point can have catastrophic results. Tying it to a simple concept such as fixed reserve takes away that nebulosity.

A point that seems to have been lost in the argument is that this isn't some Australian oddity; it's an ICAO procedure recommended for use by around 190 different countries, including Australia. Many of those countries do not use English as their first language, with resultant communication difficulties that have been a factor in past accidents. The use of a simple term such as "Mayday fuel" and tying it to fixed reserve arguably takes away much of that problem, as intended.



Only in Australia do we get so uptight about such esoteric crap. It's little wonder that Australian pilots are known overseas as "oztronauts", for their habit of making simple tasks far more difficult than they need to be. If Australian media outlets get so anxious about the use of the term "Mayday", then perhaps they need to be educated.
I'm not uptight about anything, Buzz. I've nothing to get over. I don't care how many fuel maydays are declared.

And what's it got to do with Australian pilots making a simple task more difficult? This one's easy: Declare a Mayday when your calculations result in you predicting that you'll land with less than final reserves.

But good luck educating the media and the public, particularly when the explanation won't make sense. "Yes, a Mayday was declared by the crew because the rules required them to do so. Yes, the ATSB will be carrying out an investigation, as it does in the case of any Mayday declaration. But there was never any risk to safety."

(And I should have added to my earlier post: I get it that running out of fuel is bad.)

KAPAC's anecdote got my 'like':
Long haul into LA gets told he will have to declare a fuel mayday if he wants to get priority , so he does only to be told he is No 42 in the fuel mayday stack .
That's what happens when everybody knows the emergency isn't actually emergency.





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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 04:08
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Originally Posted by RickNRoll View Post
The benefit of having to cal Mayday is that it publicly names and shames operators who send out planes with not enough fuel.
Ah, but it may not be true that a 'plane' whose crew declares a fuel Mayday was 'sent out' with 'not enough fuel' in fact.

Let's pluck an example. I know: Let's use the one that precipitated this thread.
Qantas chief pilot Dick Tobiano said air traffic controllers had requested the aircraft remain in a holding pattern for longer than the QF933 pilots had previously been advised, and that to be given priority to land they needed to make a fuel mayday call.

“The aircraft landed with 40 minutes of fuel in the tank, which is well above the minimum requirements. Our pilots followed the correct procedures and there was no safety issue with the flight,” he said in a statement.

Tobiano said the pilots had loaded fuel based on pre-flight conditions in accordance with the requirements of Australia’s air-safety regulator ...
I'll bet leftie that ATSB won't conclude that the aircraft was 'sent out' with 'not enough fuel'.

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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 04:19
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon View Post
That's what happens when everybody knows the emergency isn't actually emergency.
So what's your solution?

And what's it got to do with Australian pilots making a simple task more difficult?
The same mindset that causes us to "get so uptight about such esoteric crap".


Last edited by BuzzBox; 22nd Jul 2022 at 04:33.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 04:48
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I gave it earlier: Use different terminology that won't give the media and punters an attack of the vapours for making the reasonable assumption that a Mayday means a life-threatening emergency. The brains trust in ICAO, when refereeing these little power struggles between ATC and operators, needs to understand the collateral damage being done to public confidence.

But Australia is moving slowly towards a far more effective solution: Turning busy airports into CTAFs because Air relax-everything's-under-control Services isn't doing its job. No separation standards other than 'don't collide' make for very efficient traffic flows.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 05:13
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon View Post
I gave it earlier: Use different terminology that won't give the media and punters an attack of the vapours for making the reasonable assumption that a Mayday means a life-threatening emergency. The brains trust in ICAO, when refereeing these little power struggles between ATC and operators, needs to understand the collateral damage being done to public confidence.
Why should ICAO pander to a "public confidence" issue that seems to be unique to Australia? These procedures are used in other countries, yet they don't attract the same media attention as they do in this country. When did we become such a bunch of princesses?

Furthermore, how does different terminology fix the problem of 42 aircraft allegedly declaring "Mayday Fuel" to gain priority?
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 06:23
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Originally Posted by Capt_SNAFU View Post
Has anyone thought that the flight may have been fuel limited. I.e due to headwinds which have been large over the last few days that with BNE/PER that with full tanks may not have given them the fuel they would have liked? Not dissimilar to DPS ops on the 737 where full tanks can leave you with approx 3.0 fuel at destination.
Finally out of 5 pages of crap, someone gets it.

They probably departed with full fuel tanks and it still wasn't enough. You depart knowing you've only got the required holding but if ATC give you extra then guess what, you haven't got it. Stop poking stuff at the pilots until the real story comes out.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 07:48
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Would a Pan Pan call be suited for this situation? or is Mayday required?
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 08:06
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Would a Pan Pan call be suited for this situation? or is Mayday required?
The AIP has the answer. It's free on the ASA website.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 08:10
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Originally Posted by aviator's_anonymous View Post
Would a Pan Pan call be suited for this situation? or is Mayday required?
A helpful soul even provided the answer in an earlier post:
Qantas Fuel Mayday

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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 09:03
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Originally Posted by Dick Smith View Post
All ICAO needed was a word which made the situation 100% clear to ATC but not the publicly well known Mayday.

Could be "Perth - we have alpha fuel"

The media will beat this up every time Mayday is mentioned as if everyone is about to die! Glad I don't own an airline!
Aviation professionals understand the implications of a MAYDAY FUEL call and will initiate/respond accordingly. While it may seem spectacular to the media/public that's not the point - the point is for each party involved to understand and respond appropriately to achieve a safe outcome. Which is what happened. And it's standard internationally - it's not one of the dreaded bespoke Australian or USA-specific things.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 09:06
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Originally Posted by aviator's_anonymous View Post
Would a Pan Pan call be suited for this situation? or is Mayday required?
While it would seem that a ‘Pan Pan’ meets the definition (serious, but not at this stage life-threatening) ICAO don’t give that option for fuel prediction below minimum reserve. A ‘Mayday Fuel’ it is, regardless of traffic, weather and an individual Captain’s assessment of the risk. Perth may be remote (though in my opinion an easy airport if you can tolerate a bit of turbulence in summer easterlies and take the occasional fog forecasts seriously), has multiple runways, precision approaches and (worst case) Pearce is only a few miles up the road .But this unfortunate crew really had no option other than a mayday - and exactly what the rules required.
Yet a pan call for other situations e.g. engine failure, degraded performance, flight control issues, weather diversions etc. will get ATC assistance where available.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 10:07
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Originally Posted by Dick Smith View Post
And that's what is clearly happening!

I believe the term is a mistake but it will be hard to change!

When ATC or pilots hear the word MAYDAY immediate action needs to be taken.

For example a dual engine failure mayday like the one above the Hudson River normally needs more immediate action by ATC than fuel below 30 minutes on landing.
For the 'udson, once the boids had flown the coop, Sir Isaac Newton was the one in charge, ATCs actions were unlikely to alter the effects of gravity.

The dark side of the push towards CRM as a palliative for all ills has had it's downsides, an example being the B734 accident at east midlands... where the crew processes to review the actions taken were never able to be completed with the continuous communications from well meaning parties.




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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 11:12
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Originally Posted by DROPS View Post
Dare I say it, if you broadcast PAN FUEL, you are getting the same treatment anyway. No ATC is stupid enough or pedantic enough to argue the point in the heat of the moment.
Wanna bet? Some countries don't recognise "PAN PAN", let alone "PAN FUEL". I'm fairly certain that if you tried that in Australia, ATC would tell you to declare "MAYDAY FUEL" if you want priority. In the QF case, ATC was already aware of the aircraft's fuel state, but still told them they needed to declare "MAYDAY FUEL" to get priority.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 12:36
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My 2p is that minimising fuel is daft and unprofessional. I am am not advocating taking full tanks wherever you go, nor am I advocating taking ridiculous amounts of extra fuel and causing more emissions, but this whole minimum fuel thing is dangerous and puts an extra burden on crews, which, on top of fatigue and difficult rosters is really not a good thing. If an aircraft cannot take enough fuel, then obviously its ZFM is too great and they need to take out some seats.

Year's ago, I flew with an old Captain who had been some sort of fuel use "expert" in his previous airline. He scribbled all over the PLOGs I had carefully prepared, saying well we don't need this and we don't need that and if we use this alternate blah blah, then we only need this much fuel, happy? Well, no not really, but I was a very new, very junior F/O, so off we went.

We got to Guernsey, and made our approach......to minimums........and went around. Oh dear, the weather was worse than forecast, and he had not brought the poor weather fuel.

A quick circuit and we tried again, only to go-around again. Now we were in deep shit, (Guernsey is an island in the English Channel, UK). We dived into Jersey, (the island 'next door'), (I think we declared a MAYDAY), and thankfully got in. When we shut down, his hands were shaking and I thought you stupid dick-head. You have put us all under strain and stress, not to mention endangering us all, for......what?
We had a couple of people like him in the next airline I joined, who seemed to delight in rounding figures down instead of up and all sorts of other nonsense in "proving" they could land closer to legal minimum fuel than everybody else, as if it was some sort of game .

One other time, the weather at Alicante unexpectedly went out, and at least four aircraft from a certain Irish company immediately broke off and diverted to Valencia, as did those from a few other airlines. Valencia very soon became full and unable to accept any more diverting aircraft.

Not big. Not clever, Not professional. I am not blaming crews, it is the airlines who mandate this nonsense. And it is nonsense because the only reason they are doing it is so they can advertise even cheaper seat prices.

ATC are quite right to refuse to assist aircraft who are deliberately taking minimum fuel. Saying they will not respond other than to a MAYDAY is the right response in my view. Otherwise, every airline would be declaring minimum fuel and expecting priority over everyone else. This would rapidly become farcical, not to mention even more dangerous.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 14:09
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I don't reckon this one is all that hard,

I'll bet the Qantas aircraft departed with legal fuel.
I'll bet the Qantas crew were re-calculating fuel state at appropriate times during the flight.
I'll bet the Qantas crew's dangly bits or flappy bits didn't clench or tighten at any time during the flight due to fuel state.
I'll bet that the Qantas crew, when informed of the changed holding requirements, knew exactly how much fuel they had on board and what effect the holding requirements would have on that quantity.
I'll bet that most Qantas Captain's would have quite a few hours in the log book, even if they were a new Captain and would apply that experience against the 'quality' of ATC in this country.

The AIP requirements worked exactly the way it was meant to work, the aircraft got the priority it required and deserved and landed without its safety, that of the passengers or crew ever being in doubt.

**** the ******** media and the usual alarmist bullshit that saturates daily Australian life.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 15:27
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Originally Posted by HalfGreen View Post
...The media being the media will always make a story that gets clicks (maybe even manufacture bits of it), I bet journalists that haven't the foggiest will salivate at opportunites like these and just throw it whatever they can find because they know "Qantas" and "Mayday" together garners a lot of attention. Not only that but it makes nervous flyers even more nervous. They aren't helping.
From Letters to the Editor SMH Friday 22-July-22.
The Qantas managers presiding over the chronic delays, cancellations and lost baggage that continue to sully the airline’s once great reputation should use the prudent actions of their pilots, who declared a fuel emergency to ensure a priority approach and landing, as a textbook example of how competent professionals go about ensuring passenger wellbeing (“Qantas pilots declare ‘fuel mayday”’, July 21). Col Burns, Lugarno
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 19:54
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I’ll bet 95% of 737 crew plan and arrive into PER with 3.6 (~90 minutes) or more! 😉

Last edited by hoss; 23rd Jul 2022 at 01:50.
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Old 22nd Jul 2022, 23:23
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon View Post
I gave it earlier: Use different terminology that won't give the media and punters an attack of the vapours for making the reasonable assumption that a Mayday means a life-threatening emergency. The brains trust in ICAO, when refereeing these little power struggles between ATC and operators, needs to understand the collateral damage being done to public confidence.

But Australia is moving slowly towards a far more effective solution: Turning busy airports into CTAFs because Air relax-everything's-under-control Services isn't doing its job. No separation standards other than 'don't collide' make for very efficient traffic flows.
They DID use different terminology (Declaring Emergency, Low fuel, Fuel emergency) but have recently aligned with ICAO, so Pans for urgency, Mayday for distress (including fuel).
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Old 23rd Jul 2022, 01:24
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*sigh*

I know what terminology they used..

My suggestion is that the ‘book’ should mandate terminology different to ‘Mayday’ or ‘Emergency’ or ‘Distress’ in circumstances where, for example, the crew comes to the conclusion that, if nothing changes, they’ll land having consumed 1 minute of their final reserve. The current rules mandate declaration of a ‘Mayday’ in those circumstances.

I’ll say it again: I couldn’t care less if ‘Maydays’ must be declared in these circumstances. But nobody should be surprised when the media and punters assume that the circumstances must have constituted an emergency and get confused and sceptical when the airlines (and eventually the ‘safety’ authority and investigator) say that there was never any risk to safety.
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