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No fuel to go-around

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No fuel to go-around

Old 7th Oct 2002, 09:21
  #21 (permalink)  
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I must confess to not being fully 'au fait' with the intricacies of company fuel planning, but it does seem to me that this incident was a little daft.

120.4 says in his last post that they actually landed within 100 kgs of company minimums. I understand that this is what must remain in the tanks at shutdown. It seems that it is also enough to fly a radar circuit. Therefore, to declare that 'we do not have sufficient fuel for a go-around' is incorrect. They should make the approach and then if they have to go around call an emergency and get a priority approach. To tell the controllers that they HAVE to land this time round and get the runway cleared puts unnecessary pressure on all concerned. It is only upon the go around (apparently) that it becomes an emergency situation, not on the first approach. If it is an emergency (because it appears you must declare an emergency if it looks like you will land with less than minima) the first time, ot should be declared as such. What happened here was he got emergency treatment without declaring one. This is a dangerous precedent, as one day someone will be in the same situation, not declare it, and get sent around due a slow vacation or vehicle infringement or whatever. When it all goes quiet before the big bang there will be a lot of questions being asked!

Of course the way round all this is to load enough fuel in the first place! Many is the time I've had a 737 out of the near Med tell me he is short of fuel as he enters UK airspace... How is this permissible?
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 09:54
  #22 (permalink)  
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411a's robust approach has ruffled a few feathers, but he is correct.
As professionals we should all know what the law says about fuel planning and when you should declare an emergency. The safety of your passengers is your first priority and if you have a good reason for loading extra fuel then the law will support you.
Most airline managers are not stupid and most are pretty good at deciding which battles are winable,those that are not are normally the bullies and they tend to fold up when the CAA or FAA is mentioned.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 11:17
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And another latching-on point here (assuming of course that someone of a journalistic bent can spot a real story when it appears right under their nose, that is) 15 minutes contingency into Heathrow on the plan? Or worse, statistical contingency? Sorry, didn't I see somewhere that Heathrow promulgate 20 minutes as "planned" holding? And didn't I see somewhere that contingency fuel is to be used for "unforseen" circumstances?

Maybe that's why I'll never get a prize on the fuel table. Reminds me of the famous Northern-based 767 manager we all used to sooo love flying with who took flight plan everywhere. Now returning to stand once at JFK is careless, but the second time..."Sir, you can shut down as many engines as you've got, but when I ask you to move you gotta be moving within 30 seconds..."



Last edited by Alien Shores; 7th Oct 2002 at 11:44.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 11:41
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Those who do not know the CAA fuel requirements should read them!
Yep CONDITIONS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT you can land at destination with just final reserve fuel remaining.
On a 757 that's around 1800 Kgs at max land weight.
& I agree a full radar circuit including a go-around can take up to 1200 kgs.
Seems to me that the chap was just doing his job according to the rules (Might not keep his job if he did'nt)
It is proberbly worth remembering that that these days of minimum seperation and max runway useage there is no longer any room for a F--=% up.
So I would guess the chap just wanted to ensure that he would NOT be tucked right up behind the one in front. I also bet his SOPAS say Mayday at min reserve which he had not yet reached.
ATC you may find the CAA fuel policy interesting reading & I am sure some other contries ones as well. One good thing about pprune it does help in passing on information and help difuse missunderstandings.
If any of you jet drivers have not done a visit to west drayton it is well worth the visit.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 12:12
  #25 (permalink)  
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I can see why our lot in commercial aviation is steadily getting worse. The way many of the contributors on this thread have condemned the Commander of the subject aircraft is amazing. I think IcePack has summed it up perfectly. It appears that this Captain probably has done nothing wrong. Due to his vast experience, he could forsee a potential problem had he been forced into an unplanned go-around (as often happens at Heathrow) due to minimum spacing from the preceeding aircraft. Without undue dramatics he made sure (as far as he could) that he would have appropriate spacing, thus removing one variable from his situation, and giving him every opportunity to make a successful approach. I would think that waiting until established in the go-round with 1800kg of rapidly reducing petrol would be a little late to tell someone he needed help. Give him a break.

"There but for the grace of god go I."

For 411a. I'm not exactly sure how you would explain to the commercial department why you diverted when your fuel remaining, whilst a bit low, still met all company SOP and legal requirements to continue. But then i am just a worker bee and no doubt have lots to learn yet.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 12:18
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Never thought I’d see the day, but I have to agree 110% with 411 on this one. Once I’ve signed the tech log, it’s my aeroplane, my fuel in tanks, my licence – not necessarily in that order.

My company has a ‘carry only min fuel’ policy and (unlike some) I’m quite happy to abide by that, ‘coz it’s their train set – I just get to play with it. But, when I reach that magic figure of min divert fuel, (a figure I calculate AND BRIEF exactly on every approach), they have to understand that I’m out of there and on my way to the diversion field. End of story – and no commercial considerations even vaguely figure in my calculations. (As someone has already mentioned, for Heathrow, there’s a long-standing AIC which clearly states that ‘no delay’ translates to ‘not more than 20 minutes delay’, so anyone who approaches Heathrow without at least that up his sleeve has rocks in his head.)

I suspect that the original poster might have got a slightly garbled version of events – perhaps the pilot really meant that he had no go around capability without infringing his final reserve and he was landing in good WX at a destination with two separate runways, which is quite legal. However, if the pilot concerned really did put himself in the situation exactly as painted in the original post AND he hadn’t declared a full (note: ‘full’, not ‘fuel’) emergency some 25 minutes or more earlier, he might be the darling of his airline’s Commercial Department for pressing on, but he should have had a very serious ‘tea and bikkies’ with his Chief Pilot the very next morning.

The question no one has asked is begging to be asked – if the situation was exactly as described in the original post, what in the hell was the FO doing not screaming blue bloody murder to anyone who would listen?
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 12:28
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I cannot understand the logic of diverting from a perfectly serviceable airfield with good weather just because you have reached your minimum divert fuel. The best that can happen now is that you will arrive at the next airfield at the end of the queue with even less fuel. Surely that fuel can be better utilised holding to achieve a landing at destination rather that somewhere else.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 12:38
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NIce post from Lurkio..made me laugh.
Would strongly echo comments from DMF re MDF..going below MDF whilst holding based on ATC predictions and rwy capabilities is always preferable to actual diversion.Its a judgement call which only experience can buy.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 12:54
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Interesting thread.

Can't help feeling some are being a little too dogmatic however.

Wiley, what possible advantage can there be in using up your diversion fuel when JAR fuel policy would let you use your superior judgement to remain at destination, if for example expected delay was only another five minutes?

In all cases I would have thought good decision making is the key, based on present circumstances, while remaining within the regs. Dogma is for politicians, judgement is for aircraft commanders.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 13:37
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120.4 (who started all this)...

As said, given the figures you quote (landed just above "reserve"), suggests he was well aware he "may" land below reserve. That means a PAN.

My interpretation of "reserve" (as 30mins holding) implies sufficient for a GA and tight circuit - albeit on a Mayday declared as you went around ("will now land with less than reserve"). So there should have been fuel for a GA...

So, sounds like 2 "errors" this am made the situation less than clear cut.

Unlike some, I have no beef with the low (very rarely required) figures we can work to. However, this must be associated with the required PAN / Mayday calls, and given the good nature of LHR ATC, advance warning of them happening. It is only by making these calls that:
1. ATC know exactly what the situation is, and can "sterile" / send around others etc.
2. Record how often these situations occur. If "too often", then put pressure via CAA to up the fuel minimums.

Whatever, well done for coping as you no doubt did to everyone's advantage!

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Old 7th Oct 2002, 14:19
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Maximum, my company SOPs don’t give that option unless the WX at the destination is above certain viz/cloud base requirements, there are two separate runways and there are no untoward ATC delays expected (that might get you into your final reserve).

I’m quite happy to do what you suggested in this situation, (and have done at LHR), but (and it’s never happened yet) if I don’t look like getting on the ground with all my final reserve intact, I will not hesitate to declare an emergency. Commonsense should dictate that you give ATC a ‘heads up’ at least 10 or 15 minutes beforehand to warn them of the time at which your pucker factor reaches Warp Factor ‘x’. I’ve discussed this situation with colleagues, some of whom seem remarkably unfussed at what I see as a potentially serious situation, particularly in such a busy environment as the LHR terminal area. Call me a wimp – but I hope to get to be an old one - (and ‘dogmatic’ is a criticism I’ll quite gladly suffer when it comes to fuel.) I am paid to get my aircraft and my passengers on the ground safely, (preferably at destination), not to put them at risk on (perhaps) tenuous judgement calls perhaps clouded by commercial factors.

If I may labour the point: min diversion fuel and whether you are going to accept the second runway as an alternate (if you can) should be discussed to detail before top of descent as part of the approach briefing. Both pilots should agree on those figures whilst still in the cruise, and as far as I’m concerned, after that, they’re damn near set in concrete. Whilst I agree that a small amount of latitude should be available in the situation where can see you’re next cab off the rank and both pilots are happy to press on, I hold the very strong opinion that below 5000’ in the terminal area is NOT the place to be discussing and amending your minimum diversion fuel.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 14:47
  #32 (permalink)  

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Whilst I appreciate that times are tough in our industry and that commercial considerations / saving money are important, I get the feeling that things get a little distorted occaisionally. If you land with say CMR (company min reserve = diversion + 30 mins hold) then you have run an extremely efficient operation with no waste and it's all legal.

However you have also painted yourself into a corner in the event of something unforseen - missed approach, runway blocked, tech prob with the aircraft which need 5 mins to sort out. Fuel is money but it is also TIME. If you're rushed/distracted/pressured due to low fuel and then screw up your unforseen flapless approach who is to blame? What price bad publicity?

Further, carrying extra fuel would only be wasteful if, after landing, it was drained out of the aircraft and thrown away - the fuel is there for the next sector. Ok so may be you burn 10% of any extra by carrying it, so if you land with 500 kgs over minima you've burnt 50kgs to carry it - cost approx £10 / $16. What price a diversion (or worse)? I thinks it's fair to say that £10 in the scale of things in our industry is trivial (yes I appreciate that this is a cumulative cost directly related to the number of sectors flown) but in terms of the direct operating cost of an aircraft per sector my personal opinion is that £10 is good value if it prevents a diversion/mistake.

Obviously destination and time of day require other considerations but even if landing at 0300 with a "straight in, no delay" I still carry 10 -15 mins "go around or thinking time".

Keep it safe. A4
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 15:18
  #33 (permalink)  
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The fuel policy of any Airline is an agreement between the Company and the Authority so that even the Dickiest Headust among us actually will take the Minimum.
The Accountants have a mental poilicy/requirement to call this the Maximum, it's AIRMANSHIP that fits the extra in between.
When your alternate is in the circuit of your destination and TS are forecast and usual at your ETA, you take the minimum????
Used to be a cuppa here if you did take more, but the boss ran out of tea and acquired a more lateral approach as time went bye.
It might be their train set but it's MY licence/life/reputation which belongs to ME, not my employer.
Professional Standards
If they don't like being 3rd, I'm out of here.

Good old Singapore ++ policy on all the dockets thanks.

Old 7th Oct 2002, 15:18
  #34 (permalink)  
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Wiley, sure, I agree - you're paid to get the pax on the ground safely. And I understand and basically agree with what you're saying.

However, I was replying to your first post - that's all I had to go on - and you clearly stated ."
when I reach that magic figure of min divert fuel, (a figure I calculate AND BRIEF exactly on every approach), they have to understand that I’m out of there and on my way to the diversion field. End of story – and no commercial considerations even vaguely figure in my calculations.
So, hey, that's what I was replying to.

I agree that the use of the other runway as an alternate has to be considered very carefully.

But I still think it's very easy to think of the diversion as a magic way out - instead, we get there with minimum fuel, and we're faced with the same scary approach. (Talking about the two runway at destination option here.)

Whatever way you look it, the regulations and company policy can conspire to create a situation where our time in the air is limited. And it doesn't matter how much extra you take - you can still find yourself left with very little. I'm sure we've all been aware of big delays, taken what we thought was adequate and still been left with very little.

Unless you divert with fuel well above company fuel to initiate a diversion, you'll still be time limited on reaching your diversion.

Maybe we're saying the same thing, but in different ways!!

('cos I'm definitely not advocating flying 'round on fumes.)

Last edited by Maximum; 7th Oct 2002 at 16:52.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 16:30
  #35 (permalink)  
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.... John Barnes, 411A.... perfect response from PC pilots, just wish I could justify a tonne over plog every time with the company.( PC means "politically correct", and a tonne over plog is eroupean destinations only "on the bus")
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 16:45
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I'm getting really sad responding to my own posting......

But another thought just popped into my head (I get about one every hour these days if I'm lucky).

It seems to me that the single runway option is easy. You get down to your briefed fuel for diversion (company minimum figure or more based on your own good airmanship), then off you go. No ifs, no buts. Just like the good old days.

The difficulty comes with the two runway option, LHR for example. Provided wx and approach aid requirements are met, you can eat into your diversion fuel (and the company will expect you to.) As soon as you do this you've burnt your bridges. Now something unexpected happens to delay things - and the puckering starts, through no fault of your own, or lack of judgement. It's just the way it works.

Only way to give yourself a buffer is to always carry enough fuel for your expected delay, plus.

Ramble...ramble....pilot's stream of consciousness.........

Dick, you hit the nail on the head - in the real world, therein lies the problem.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 17:38
  #37 (permalink)  
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I am always the last to agree with 411, but even in his caustic style, he is correct on this issue. To argue that its the fault of a company policies or some ICAO tenet marginilizes the PICs responsibilities.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 17:46
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Can anyone quote one instance where a reputable airline has fired a Captain for consistantly taking too much extra fuel?
Yes, I could give you an example of a Captain in a 'reputable' flag carrying airline in europe who recently had to go all the way to the high court to stop his company firing him because 'he consistently carried too much fuel'. Believe it or not.

Also, I know of other airlines requiring their skippers to fill in a box on the flight plan explaining any extra fuel being asked for. At a certain SE Asian company this reason was often queried and pilots were hence intimidated into leaving themselves short. This cumulated in a bad case of 'press-on-itis' which left a 747 running on fumes after a G/A at LHR (well documented and discussed on this website).

Just wait until the stuff hits $40 a barrell again.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 18:40
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West Coast, you say
To argue that its the fault of a company policies or some ICAO tenet marginilizes the PICs responsibilities.
But surely the commander has to operate close to company policy, which in turn will be close to the regs?

So, if the regs stated we had to land with an hour and a half of fuel in the tanks, we wouldn't really have any worries. Unfortunately we can work to much tighter margins.

So what happens to the commander, for example, who diverts fifteen minutes before company policy or regs say he should?

All I'm saying is, the regs and company policy provide the datum around which this discussion is based, therefore we can point an accusing finger at them.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 19:06
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Sorry Chap[ess]s
As a [not so] humble ATSA, how much fuel is burned on a G/A, and would that "impinge" on div reserve?
we aim to please, it keeps the cleaners happy
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