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Too close for comfort - easyJet lands with 18m fuel

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Too close for comfort - easyJet lands with 18m fuel

Old 22nd Nov 2023, 02:41
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Originally Posted by NoelEvans
Similar to a discussion that I heard in an airport hotel at LHR several years back. A discussion about 'minimum fuel' had moved on to personal fitness and 'using up' heartbeats with exercise. One of the captains brought this back to 'minimum fuel' by saying "That is why I carry extra fuel, I want to be going around the hold with a nice slow pulse rate"!!

Who cares about the relatively small effect on fuel burn on a day like that when the safety of the aeroplane is improved with that extra fuel. Are you one of those 'bean counters' who knows nothing about the real world??

I had a wind-shear go around once -- at my diversion airfield. I was sooo pleased that my fuel planning that day had been to arrive at my original destination at max landing weight so that in the unlikely event that we could land our weight permitted, but in the likely event that we were going to divert, on a really windy day we would have a comfortable fuel amount. I was very pleased to be able to make another relaxed approach after that unexpected wind-shear go around (and so were our cabin crew and full load of passengers!). Who cares about the 'extra' fuel burn. That is a tiny cost compared with running out of fuel.

Well done to that crew for arriving safely in Zurich. I hope that their future attitude to fuel planning and the bean-counters 'it is legal' nonsense has altered significantly and that they pass that on to others. Safety comes before any bean-counter misery.
Just a one percent saving on total company costs adds up to a very nice bonus for a few executives.
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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 16:08
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Originally Posted by RickNRoll
Just a one percent saving on total company costs adds up to a very nice bonus for a few executives.
Just one aeroplane running out of fuel adds up to a lot of people potentially killed and the entire airline ending up out of work. But those executives in offices very remote from the crash will walk away with those "very nice bonuses".

If the weather is questionable, just take lots more fuel.
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Old 22nd Nov 2023, 16:49
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Originally Posted by NoelEvans
If the weather is questionable, just take lots more fuel.
Why not just divert?
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 10:34
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We had a quick discussion about this last week in our human factors class. My colleague (Swiss national) knew about the incident and suggested that the initial divert point was to Zurich, however, they were already dealing with a declared emergency, hence the divert to Basel. Unfortunately, the winds were very gusty and the approach was unstable so quite rightly went around. By then Zurich was now open and could take the easy Airbus.
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 16:51
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Originally Posted by redsnail
We had a quick discussion about this last week in our human factors class. My colleague (Swiss national) knew about the incident and suggested that the initial divert point was to Zurich, however, they were already dealing with a declared emergency, hence the divert to Basel. Unfortunately, the winds were very gusty and the approach was unstable so quite rightly went around. By then Zurich was now open and could take the easy Airbus.
This one just 'piles up' against the crew!

A low level go-around at destination. Wind-shear reports rule out another approach there, so divert. Diversion is busy with an emergency, so route to another (closer) diversion airfield, which has significant terrain considerations and (if I remember correctly) a steep approach, with winds 50deg across the runway gusting to 40kt, resulting (very easily!) in an unstable approach and go-around. Then divert to the original diversion declaring an emergency. Land safely. Well done!

Next time that the weather is 'questionable', just take lots of fuel!! Who cares what any 'bean counters' say. That crew have earned the right to put on whatever fuel they want for the rest of their careers!!
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Old 23rd Nov 2023, 23:33
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We had a management pilot divert due to weather, he refueled and went back to the original destination. Crew were then AOG due to duty time limits. Since then, we were instructed to tanker to MLW at that airport when the weather is bad.

Another Captain who always took flight plan fuel had two weather related diversions in a month.

If you want to know the penalty for carrying extra fuel, check the flight plan. It should show the extra burn for the flight per ton above planned ZFW.
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Old 26th Nov 2023, 18:24
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Originally Posted by Chronic Snoozer
Did you mean to say they 'weren't' the only flight to divert? I believe the EasyJet CH flight from Sevilla to Geneva diverted to Lyon that evening as did a NetJets flight.
Few further factual info
  • on that day there were a total of 10 go around in Geneva
  • four elected to divert, 6 landed
  • Easyjet diverted to Zurich but where informed that there was another emergency ongoing with a Swiss flight (Bruxelles - Geneva) which had an issue with their anti-ice and who was already diverting to Zurich. Thus they were re-routed to Basel
  • They tried to land there but conditions were even worse than in Geneva - so they had to divert again while declaring the low fuel emergency
  • the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board (STSB) has opened an investigation into the matter (although I can't find anything on their website)

Last edited by atakacs; 27th Nov 2023 at 07:00.
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Old 27th Nov 2023, 09:25
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Too close for comfort-easyjet lands with 18m fuel

Noel; "Just take loads of fuel" ?? Can we be a bit tighter ? That broad-band attitude in the cowboy outfit I endured for a short spell would have you in the Office so often you would be fed up of tea & any biscuits.

Looks like Zurich was ok at time of dep. Other alternates were questionable. Good reason for "extra" fuel but, c'mon, how much extra and ,logically, one could take round-trip wherever you went just in case you can't get into destination, alternate closes off to you & other near alternates are suffering questionable weather.

You appear lucky enough to work for a professional transport organization where your command decisions are respected. I enjoyed the last 17 years of mine held in the same regard. IN fact, I got into trouble for suggesting we carried too much fuel ! Sometimes, can't win eh ?
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 02:11
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Keep a fuel diary of how much extra you carry and how often you use it. If you get invited for tea and biscuits, being able to show occasions where you would have landed below minimum divert or close to final reserve will usually shorten the discussion.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 02:35
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At my airline we don't have to keep a diary as every month we are presented with a graph of our additional CO2 emissions that our discretionally fuel has generated. To be fair though they don't include sectors where we are required to tanker fuel because there is no hypocrisy in generating extra CO2 to cover the cost of fuel. Apparently the cost of carrying extra fuel far outweighs the occasional weather diversion due to insufficient flight plan fuel. What about diversions due to the holding times being doubled from 20 minutes to 40 minutes because ATC can't handle the traffic flows? The only variable a Captain can control is fuel in a rapidly deteriorating operating environment and Flight Operations departments that are more closely aligned with the Commercial department than is healthy.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 11:15
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The diversion rate/destination holding fuel trade off in terms of overall average costs, is, I was told, skewed a little too much towards pilots favouring more uplifted fuel, compared to accepting a slightly higher risk of a (safe) diversion.
However, a lot of pilots don't seem to appreciate that their flight plan alternate may not be available, especially when there a lot of divs going on. I certainly favour getting the ducks lined up in a row with ATC if a div is looking likely , well before actually diverting,
and even if a pilot has stacks of fuel and burns it going round and round the hold at dest all the way down to reserves, and then diverts, that means landing with 30 minutes fuel, even if everything goes perfectly from that point. Personally, I have a buffer for the div. If the destination doesn't show an improving prospect, then no point in pointlessly burning the extra, and then diverting anyway. A decisive early decision is usually preferable I think, both in terms of cost and safety.
The incident rate historically, for a double divert is very high. India and Asia has more than example.
In a nutshell, IMO it's not so much about how much fuel you uplift from the bowser..., but what you do with it when things go pear shaped. Plan B,C,D,E should always be in the head, well before needing them.

Last edited by midnight cruiser; 28th Nov 2023 at 11:30.
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 14:00
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A lot of sculling around at low altitude is expensive in terms of fuel consumed and distance covered. The rate at which a big jet transport uses up fuel, in, for example, a couple of abortive attempts to land at a declared destination due to weather can be quite frightening; a prudent decision to divert earlier from a high cruising level leads to a much more peaceful existence.
​​​​​​​D.P. Davies - Handling the Big Jets
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 09:12
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Too close for comfort-easyjet lands with 18m fuel

Originally Posted by krismiler
D.P. Davies - Handling the Big Jets
Kirs: I made early decision to divert, twice. One time with CP on board (!) doing a standards check. Result was in the cross hairs every time I walked in the door until I said "Khimo Sabi).
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 09:51
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Originally Posted by krismiler
D.P. Davies - Handling the Big Jets
You only divert at Cruise levels in Europe when it is certain that the weather will exceed limits at ETA and stay that way whilst you burn any extra fuel you have brought.

This happens about only 1% of the time in short haul flying. If it was that obvious that you won't get in, you would know before departure and would have discussed it with Ops.
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 15:53
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While returning home a couple of months ago I cruised past one of our regular destinations and heard ATC advise visibility 600m in heavy thunderstorms and 20 aircraft holding. Had I been inbound, I wouldn’t have even bothered trying and would have gone straight to the alternate. Even if the weather had cleared up instantly, an approach was an hour away at best. Getting to the alternate first with a decent fuel reserve would be preferable to arriving in the middle of a mass of diversions, some of whom would be declaring minimum or mayday fuel.

Europe has a high density of airports, and spreading the diversions around is going to be possible. In other regions, if a major airport goes out options are more limited and one or two secondary airports won’t be able to cope with a sudden mass of arrivals. Parking can quickly become a problem as the airport rapidly fills up.
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 18:57
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Originally Posted by krismiler
... Getting to the alternate first with a decent fuel reserve would be preferable to arriving in the middle of a mass of diversions, some of whom would be declaring minimum or mayday fuel.

...
There was the case several years ago of three aeroplanes declaring Mayday diverting into Valencia when Madrid had closed with un-forecast thunderstorms. And another that didn't call Mayday actually landed very low on fuel...

Quite a few years ago a widespread snowfall across much of the south of England caused a huge number of diversions, with one airport a bit to the north taking over 30 (I think) diversions. Early the next morning I flew out of there on a regional aeroplane and found a huge amount of fuel left onboard, perfectly adequate for the much increased fuel that I wanted. The pax load had been low enough to allow FULL fuel for departure on the inbound flight that previous night. I saw the captain of that inbound flight later and commented on fully understanding that fuel load, to get the answer "And it was so nice to arrive with so much fuel that we were able to go round and round and round the hold letting all the fuel Maydays in first"!! More fuel, less stress!

I remember one night, with snow worse than forecast everywhere (except our destination, but we had fuel to divert a long way away!) listening to an aeroplane going into another airport asking how long to expect in the hold, due to fuel concerns.
"I will find out", replied the ATC, to come back almost in the next breath, "They're now snow closed."
"Then we will be diverting to XXX", said the pilot, with 'urgency' in his voice.
"They are closed for diversions", said ATC.
"Then we need an immediate divert to YYY", said the pilot, with a very 'urgent' tone in his voice and noticeably higher 'pitch'/
"They are also not taking diversions", said ATC.
In the very few moments of silence that followed we could just imagine the tension on that flight deck as they thought of "what next?"!!
Then "ATC came back with "They've just said that they will take you."
There was a HUGE relief in the voice that replied "Thank you!"

Yes, don't put on loads of fuel all the time, but when there is any question about destination suitability, there should be no question at all about taking more fuel.
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 19:04
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Originally Posted by Gordomac
Noel; "Just take loads of fuel" ?? Can we be a bit tighter ? That broad-band attitude in the cowboy outfit I endured for a short spell would have you in the Office so often you would be fed up of tea & any biscuits.

...

You appear lucky enough to work for a professional transport organization where your command decisions are respected. ...
In my last job we almost always took extra fuel as actually getting into the destination was important so extra holding fuel was always considered worth it. One day I heard the Ops Director say "If any captain says that we always go minimum fuel, then I need a word with him" It was an excellent job!!
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 20:50
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Psychologically does it make it harder to land knowing the fuel state?
Does the low fuel state exacerbate the problem?
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 22:35
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This AIIB report about two F15 crews having a bad day at the office really shows how quickly things can get out of hand when under pressure and diverting with minimum fuel and when real world conditions overtake the theoretical word in Ops manuals. It was obviously a military incident but there are so many learning points in there for all of us. They flew the plan but must have been very close to running out of fuel before finally reaching Valley. Other Mil alternates were considered but were lost in the confusion of trying to get through busy airspace, climbing to economic cruise levels (with a very close Airprox on the way).
They must have overflown at least 6 very long ILS runways EMA, MAN, WTN, LPL, CEG, DSA on the way but presumably convention led them to not consider civil airfields. Likewise do civil pilots or controllers ever consider Military airfield as a potential option if things really get messy with multiple diversions, fuel emergencies and airports declaring themselves full?

https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports/embr...7-january-2005
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Old 30th Nov 2023, 03:51
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There was the case several years ago of three aeroplanes declaring Mayday diverting into Valencia when Madrid had closed with un-forecast thunderstorms. And another that didn't call Mayday actually landed very low on fuel...
Guess which airline. A clue, itís Irish and they even publish league tables of pilots taking extra fuel.
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