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Don't Be Fuelish

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Don't Be Fuelish

Old 3rd Mar 2004, 15:50
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In the post Kaptin M made originally he said that both Captain and dispatcher decided that the fuel was sufficient for the flight then further goes on to say *as long as the aircraft LANDED at the alternate.... If it then has to be towed from the runway to the parking spot due to lack of fuel, then he has absolutely complied with all the requirements* Going back to basics, the requirement is for, amongst other things, enough fuel to complete the flight. As I remember it, an aircraft is legally deemed to be in flight from the time it first moves under its own power until it stops moving under its own power therefore the fact that it had to be towed off the runway means, in my book, that it had insufficient fuel to complete the flight.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 16:02
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Kaptin M

You are getting your knickers in a knot, through not having read the posts properly.

I concur with your summary in your last, but would add that over the destination one should take into account any others factors known or reasonably expected , and adjust the min divert accordingly. For instance if you know that there will be a dozen others diverting to the alternate it is reasonable to assume that a bit extra for vectoring and holding would be prudent. As you are well aware this is the undefined area of the op, where judgement and command perogative come into play.

Should you now take yourself back to the original post and re read it, you will note it is alleged, that whilst overhead the destination, the Captain, elected to hold further over an unavailable aerodrome. As is also alleged, he took no extra from the departure aerodrome. Ergo he was at or close to min divert fuel when he elected to remain over an unavailable aerodrome.

Such a decision, based on the facts alleged, is bodering on the criminal.

On the basis of the allegations made in the original post, I have no compunction in saying this man is an idiot, and anyone who considers that he is not a menace to aviation (based on the allegations made) is also an idiot. Having met you and enjoyed a few ales and a steak with you I assumed that you are not so, and can only presume that you have misread or misinterpreted.

If the circumstances are not as indicated in the original post I will gladly withdraw and reconsider.

With regard to my own experience and distance to run (I'll get to the finish line a long way before you), the mixing of terms is the result of having worked in many areas where the same things run under different names, and the self induced destruction of brain cells over time. My appolgies for being imprecise. analyse the handle and you may care to reconsider your inappropriate comments.

Personal attack is not your usual style Charlie. Suggest you leave off the saki before you post next time.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 16:04
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Kaptin M

Your post gave me a good chuckle this Morning and i assume some of it was tounge in cheek?

I have no problem if in extreme circumstances someone lands with or just a above min reserve fuel following a diversion or after an unexpected hold at destination. It is worth remembering that if you divert with only min reserve + alternate fuel in the tanks then at arrival at your alt: you will have not much more than min reserve anyway, so holding over head at destination is an option

you would need to be certain of your approach time and the reason for the delay. Snow clearing operations always take longer than ATC think at least in the UK. I have yet to see a full sweep and inspection take less than 30-40 minutes. Given last weeks weather condition at some airports on the East coast where snow was blowing back on to the airfield as quick as it was cleared it is not surprising that it took longer than thought.

As for comments about carrying (or not ) extra fuel it could well be that it was due in part to landing performance on contaminated runways, braking action etc.

Most regional jets don't have thrust reversers so the Captain & F/O would have had plenty to think about that day. All this crap about company fuel policies is just that: in my company at least Commander are expected to take the fuel they need but no more, it is up to the Commander to decide what is needed.

In the mean time lets await the out come and learn from it!
Old 3rd Mar 2004, 16:24
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W.r.t. 'company dispatcher - also a supposed specialist'....

The difference here, as I understand it, is that in some countries ( especially the USA ) airlines have qualified 'dispatchers' who have some sort of pseudo legal authority and / or responsibility for the despatch ( or not ) of a flight.

In the UK there is ( to my knowledge ) no such equivalent, and the decision to despatch ( or not ) and / or the amount of fuel required is soley down to the legal / nominated commander of the aircraft - and CRM aside, the management of fuel, and indeed the whole filght, rests soley with the commander - wherein it's his/her head on the block when things do not go to 'plan' - alebit a two, or more, crew operation.

The commander is bound by the definitions and requirements laid out in his / her company Operations Manual / Part A / Section 8 ( Operating Procedures ) - it being a CAA / JAA approved / legal document - my own companies version of which is repro'd below for your enlightenment:

8.1.6 Determination of the Quantities of Fuel and Oil Carried Based on the appropriate consumption figures for the stage of flight as contained in Part B of the manual for the specific aeroplane, the fuel on board at the start of each flight must be sufficient to cover the elements listed in the following paragraphs. Standard Procedure

The fuel required is the sum of:

(a) Taxi Fuel - The total amount of fuel expected to be used prior to take-off including allowances for operation of ice protection systems and APU. (Normally 200kg for the B737).

(b) Trip Fuel - To include:

(i) Take-off and climb to initial cruising level/altitude, taking into account the expected departure routeing;
(ii) Cruise from top of climb (TOC) to top of descent (TOD), including any step climb/descent;
(iii) TOD to initial approach point, taking into account the expected arrival routeing and procedure;
(iv) Approach and landing at destination.

(c) Contingency Fuel - Which must be the higher of (i) or (ii) below :

(i) 5% of the planned trip fuel or, in the event of inflight replanning, 5% of the trip fuel for the remainder of the flight; or
(ii) fuel for 5 mins hold at 1500 ft above the destination aerodrome in ISA.

NOTE: At the planning stage not all factors that could have an influence on the fuel used to the destination aerodrome can be foreseen. Consequently contingency fuel is carried to compensate for items such as:
  • Deviations of an individual aeroplane from the expected fuel consumption data;
  • Deviations from forecast meteorological conditions;
  • Deviations from planned routeings and/or cruising levels/altitudes.
(d) Alternate Fuel - to include:

(i) A go-around from the applicable MDA/DH at the destination aerodrome to missed approach altitude, taking into account the complete missed approach procedure;
(ii) Climb from missed approach altitude to cruising level/altitude;
(iii) Cruise from TOC to TOD;
(iv) TOD to initial approach point taking into account the expected arrival routeing and procedure;
(v) Approach and landing at the destination alternate aerodrome selected in accordance with para

NOTES[list=1][*] If, in accordance with para, two destination alternates are required then alternate fuel must be sufficient to cover the case of the alternate requiring the greater amount of fuel.[*] The departure aerodrome may be selected as a destination alternate.[/list=1](e) Final Reserve Fuel
Fuel to hold for 30 minutes at 1500 ft above aerodrome elevation in ISA calculated with the estimated landing mass on arrival at the alternate or the destination, when no alternate is required.

(f) Additional Fuel
(to be carried if dictated by the type of operation e.g. ETOPs). This is only required to be carried if the fuel calculated in accordance with (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) above does not provide sufficient for the circumstances listed below:

(i) holding for 15 mins at 1500 ft above aerodrome elevation in ISA when an IFR flight is being operated without a destination alternate in accordance with para; and

(ii) following an engine or pressurisation failure at the most critical point en-route:
  • descend as necessary and proceed to an adequate aerodrome; and
  • 15 minutes hold at 1500 ft in ISA above the adequate aerodrome; and
  • approach and landing.
(g) Extra fuel
At the discretion of the commander. Decision Point Procedure
When planning to a destination aerodrome via an en-route decision point the fuel required is:
The sum of:[list=a][*] taxi fuel;[*] trip fuel to the destination aerodrome, via the decision point;[*] contingency fuel of not less than 5% of the estimated fuel used from the decision point to the destination aerodrome;[*] alternate fuel, if a destination alternate is required;[*] final reserve fuel;[*] additional fuel, if required; and[*] extra fuel, at the discretion of the commander;[/list=a] Isolated Aerodrome Procedure
When planning to an isolated aerodrome for which an alternate does not exist the fuel required is the sum of:[list=a][*] taxi fuel;[*] trip fuel;[*] contingency fuel in accordance with para;[*] additional fuel if required, but not less than:
(i) for turbo-prop and turbo-jet aeroplanes fuel to fly for a minimum of two hours, calculated with the normal cruise consumption, after arriving overhead the destination aerodrome, including final reserve fuel; and
(ii) extra fuel, at the discretion of the commander.[/list=a] Predetermined Point Procedure
When planning to a destination alternate where the distance between the destination aerodrome and the
destination alternate is such that a flight can only be routed via a predetermined point to one of these
aerodromes the fuel required is the greater of (a) or (b) below:[list=a][*] the sum of:
(i) taxi fuel;
(ii) trip fuel to the destination aerodrome via the predetermined point;
(iii) contingency fuel in accordance with para;
(iv) additional fuel if required, but not less than that in para;
(v) extra fuel, at the discretion of the commander
or,[*] the sum of:
(i) taxi fuel;
(ii) trip fuel from the departure aerodrome to the alternate aerodrome, via the predetermined
(iii) contingency fuel in accordance with para;
(iv) additional fuel if required, but not less than fuel for 30 mins hold at 1500 ft in ISA including Final Reserve fuel; and
(v) extra fuel, at the discretion of the commander.[/list=a]

8.3.7 Policy and Procedures for In-Flight Fuel Management The commander must ensure that fuel checks are carried out at regular intervals throughout the flight. On flights of more than one hours duration, such checks are to be carried out at not more than hourly intervals. On flights of less than one hour, an intermediate check is to be made at a convenient time when the cockpit workload is low. At each check, the remaining fuel must be recorded and evaluated so as to:[list=a][*] compare actual consumption with planned consumption;[*] check that the fuel remaining will be sufficient to complete the flight; and[*] determine the expected fuel remaining on arrival at the destination.[/list=a] If an in-flight fuel check reveals that the expected fuel remaining on arrival at the destination will be less than the required alternate fuel (para plus final reserve fuel (para the commander will:[list=a][*] assess and take into account the traffic, operational and meteorological conditions prevailing and expected at the destination aerodrome; and[*] similarly along the diversion route to the alternate aerodrome; and[*] similarly at the destination alternate aerodrome;[/list=a]when deciding whether to proceed to the destination aerodrome or to divert, so as to land with not less than final fuel reserve fuel. If an in-flight fuel check reveals that on a flight to an isolated destination aerodrome planned in accordance with para, the expected fuel remaining at the point of last possible diversion is less than the sum of:[list=a][*] fuel to divert to an alternate aerodrome selected in accordance with para;[*] contingency fuel; and[*] final reserve fuel[/list=a]the commander will either:[list=a][*] divert; or[*] continue to the destination provided that two separate runways are available at the destination[/list=a]and the expected weather conditions at the destination comply with those specified for planning in para The commander will declare an emergency when the actual usable fuel on board is less than final reserve fuel.

Last edited by Devils Advocate; 3rd Mar 2004 at 16:44.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 17:06
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Thanks for that. According to the above posts the Commander only declared a PAN call and not a MAYDAY therefore it may? be safe to assume that the fuel on board was not at or below min reserve, i understand from other websites that the landing Alt airfield was EDI, what many may not be aware is that due to WIP EDI is a NDB/DME only airfield except when weather condition are below NDB/DME minima + a bit?

This is due to WIP in the ILS sensitive area, as a result if the weather is crap then the work in this area is withdrawn and the ILS switched back on.

The weather may well have been CAVOK but due to spacing of landing and takeoff requirement you often end up flying the procedure anyway and this always takes longer than a high speed ILS, in my experence at least another 10 mins at EDI.

Now if the Commander arrives at EDI with close to min fuel and is number 5 to land he has a choice, he can either sit it out and wait his turn and accept that once he goes into MRF then he MUST declare a MAYDAY which will almost certainly cause other aircraft to be either sent around or put in the hold, or he could say look were going be a tight on fuel for number 5 and that means a non standard PAN call, this action might save everyone a lot of hassell
albeit non standard.

Having made a pan call the Emergency services will be out anyway and will in any event follow him/her back to stand, but that doesn't mean the tanks were dry.

At the end of the day it will come down to how much fuelwas remaining at the time of Landing, if it was a above MRF then its no big deal and Kaptin M is spot on he squeezed every last drop of commercialism out of his aircraft, if it was below then he might well have a case to answer.

One final thought on this: If he had landed at destination he would have received no special thanks (from anyone) if he got it wrong then he/she could be out of work (or dead) always look after your own backside first that way its safer for you, your crew, your passenger and your compnay.
Old 3rd Mar 2004, 17:17
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Interesting thread from an ATCO's viewpoint.

For several years it's become clear to us on the ground that reserves are becoming dangerously low.
Whenever wx diversions take place it is almost inevitable that the trip to your alternate will not be quick , as others will be following the same plan. Does anybody think about that?

I believe that on the day in question my screen showed 3 SOS squawks at the same time. A shameful sight.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 17:40
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If all these factors were known/ forecast and the Commander still took little or no holding fuel above minimum - it was clearly a flawed decision! Why?

As hatsoff highlights more and more people are carrying less and less fuel - the more I fly the more I like option enhancing fuel!
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 18:50
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hatsoff - you are absolutely right. This policy (?) of operating with minimum fuel is crazy - there is nothing commercial about running out of fuel or even diverting!

Also, you only need to throw in another factor such as the gear not coming down and you have a major emergency on your hands.

I will admit to not being up to speed on some of the JAR/OPS minutae but CAP 360 (Guidance notes to holders of AOCs) used to say that operators should instruct crew to carry extra fuel when operating in "congested areas" - I think that probably covers most of the UK! What happened to plain old "airmanship" and commanders acting like commanders?

By this I am not implying that one should never depart with only flight plan fuel but it all depends on the situation. If airports are likely to close due snow etc this seems like a cast iron reason for carrying some excess fuel.

IMHO, just a matter of time before somebody runs out one day!
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 20:37
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Perhaps that's part of the problem.
If European airlines operated in accordance with regulations in the USA, a proper licensed and qualified DISPATCHER would have a legal say in the matter as well, as to how much fuel the aircraft departed with.

Now having said all this, if poor enroute decisions are made...fumes are possible on landing (not a good thing in my book).
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 20:50
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Just to get this into perspective a little, the difference between carrying a load of extra fuel or not is that you can hold for longer at the destination. All the diversions are made with approximately the same fuel on board which is essentially diversion fuel + final reserve fuel + whatever you add on for your own comfort factor. When you divert under these circumstances you are always going to land with just above frf, all perfectly legal and reasonable.

If you have been given an eat at the destination airfield then whats the point in flying off to another airfield burning more fuel to make a landing there. It doesn't make sense and it's not a requirement to do so. Of course if the delay is indeterminate then thats a whole new ball game.

In this case the aircraft landed with well above frf and as such there was no need to update it to a Mayday, but given that they were a diverted aircraft, a Pan call would give them some priority, and that again seems like a perfectly reasonable call to me.

Out of interest, given that diverted aircraft are going to run out of fuel rather quicker than normal inbounds (generally) do atc give them priority anyway?

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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 22:31
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Out of interest, given that diverted aircraft are going to run out of fuel rather quicker than normal inbounds (generally) do atc give them priority anyway?

In the UK we don't.
We are instructed to afford no priority unless an emergency has been declared.

That's why I wish you guys would be more aware that a quick diversion to an alternate - given current UK Traffic Density - isn't always possible. Even getting you out of the original holding pattern and on your way can take 5 minutes or more depending on the complexity of the coordination involved.

Unless you call Pan or Mayday we can ( in theory ) offer no priority.
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 23:27
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Taking into account all the above, with management pilots like this around....I think I'll go by train
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Old 3rd Mar 2004, 23:46
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Titus Adduxas
In this case the aircraft landed with well above frf
Where does this information come from? Do you have any further information on the incident in question? As far as I could see in the description of the trip in the original post the aircraft arrived overhead with minimum fuel for the alternate plus final reserve. It was then flown in the hold waiting for the airport to open, diverting later. Assuming the calculations were roughly correct then it must have landed at the alternate with less than the final reserve fuel, therefore the Captain made the wrong decision and an emergency should have been declared. No-one has yet confirmed any difference from this interpretation.
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 00:15
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Let's get this back to basics:

Without making any comment as to the truth of it, the original post said they landed so deep into their final reserve that there was concern they wouldn't manage to taxi to the gate.

Kaptin M doesn't see a problem.

I sincerely hope he's pulling our legs.

Where would they be if they had to go around?

****** fixed reserve vs. contingency vs. holding vs. planned. vs actual burn vs. WX vs. SOP vs. ANO vs. everything else, this isn't rocket science:

If you arrive anywhere, destination or alternate, without enough fuel in the tanks to go around should the need arise, you have a BIG problem and some serious airmanship questions. Declining to declare a mayday only compounds the felony.


R 1
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 00:49
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Assuming the incident happened as described...

What happens to him now? I mean lots of people know what happened and the overall view seems to be that it's outrageous. So how does he avoid reporting the event himself? Were boy's from the CAA waiting for him at the stand? Does everyone just turn a blind eye?
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 01:14
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411A said:

If European airlines operated in accordance with regulations in the USA, a proper licensed and qualified DISPATCHER would have a legal say in the matter as well, as to how much fuel the aircraft departed with.
What you are saying is degrading the status of the COMMANDER of the operation. Scenario: sitting in the hold at destination with 45 min holding delays due unforecast heavy snow and the US captain has to ACARS/SATCOM for instructions? What a cr*p solution to a lack of airmanship. There is no substitute for route knowledge and a healthy degree of pessimism. The flight plans produced are the MINIMUM fuel required, I always try to think of reasons why I may need more, be it unrealistic div fuels or whatever. Having said that, I usually find no reason to take more than an extra 10 mins worth into LHR unless weather is bad.

What does a DISPATCHER bring to this decision that statistical data does not? He is not in the aircraft, his health is not on the line. Dispatchers (as per US) are not relevant nor are they useful in the modern age. We all have access via ACARS to all the MET data we need even in mid-oceanic flight - what exactly do US dispatchers add in value terms. 411A could you please tell us all here?
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 01:18
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Utter rubbish.

see the link refering to the Hapag Lloyd incedent for more info.
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 01:40
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I seem to recall that in the well studied British Midland accident at East Midlands the Engine Shutdown drill was delayed for a significant period while the Captain sought approval from Company Ops to divert there. I never understood this.

Last edited by PPRuNe Towers; 5th Mar 2004 at 23:42.
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 01:48
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My god I thought I had heard it all until I found this thread! The Captain in question should be shot if the story is as reported in the original post. What he did was put his passengers in harms way. What if he had not been able to get the gear down or some other failure had occurred? Then we may be looking at an accident.

The only person in my view who decides how much fuel goes on my aeroplane is my F/O and myself. I will load what I need given all the conditions on the day! I do take Plog fuel from time to time when conditions permit but our job is to protect our passengers and at times the company from itself. Any pilot who does not see that should not be on the flight deck of a commercial aircraft.

The bottom line is this Captain clearly took a risk with his passengers and crews lives, which he had no right to do. Ignoring his F/O's concerns in this way was unforgivable, especially given his other role in the company.

For those who like to quote the rules remember rules are for the guidance of wise men/women and the adherence of fools and there is no place in this industry for fools like this man!

Kaptain M I can only hope you were stirring things up with your tongue firmly in your cheek otherwise please let me know which company you fly for as I shall make a point of never flying with them!

Rant over!
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Old 4th Mar 2004, 02:40
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It's been said before but it apparently needs saying again. We all accept that a significant amount of fuel in a long-haul widebody is used just by being there, so there is a certain commercial case for limiting any extra carried. On smaller aeroplanes the savings are comparatively tiny - certainly not worth the stress imposed on the crew when that unexpected hold materialises.

Management wonks seem to need reminding that most of that "extra" fuel is still in the tanks for the next sector!

I have worked for a number of airlines. None has questioned any decision to carry extra fuel. Have I been lucky?

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