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No fuel to go-around

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No fuel to go-around

Old 7th Oct 2002, 19:23
  #41 (permalink)  
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Cool I'm with A4 on this !

Many here will be familiar with their PLOGs telling them that their jet aircraft (typically) burns 4% of every ton of fuel onboard just to carry that fuel on a per hour basis.

Nb. A ton of JetA1 kero roughly costs about $200.

So if one was to say that you average trip was four hours long and in order to arrive with an extra ton of fuel at your destination ( that would provide about 25 minutes of extra flight in a B737 ) one would need to load on .......... click click tap tap......... 1.17 tonnes of extra fuel, i.e. 1170 Kgs over the FlightPlan figure. E.g. :

In the 1st hour you'll burn 4% of the extra 1.17 tonnes, so giving 1.125 tonnes extra.
In the 2nd hour you'll burn 4% of that, so giving 1.080 tonnes extra.
In the 3rd hour you'll burn 4% of that, so giving 1.040 tonnes extra.
In the 4th and final hour (of your averaged 4 hour flight) you'll burn 4% of that and arrive overhead the runway at your destination with 1 tonne of extra fuel (over the PLOG figure - all things being equal, so to speak).

So, to arrive with one tonne of extra fuel you've had to burn 0.17 tonnes of the stuff ( 170Kg's )

That equates to an average total cost of $35 ( or $8.75 per hour - and where a B737 typically cost $100 per MINUTE to operate ) - including discounting as 'averaged' any disparity in fuel uplift charges from the departure airports, in that you'll always have an extra tonne in the tanks.

Q). So what does it cost to divert ?

A). Lets say about $3500.

Which if you put that into perspective means that it would take about 100 normal sectors (assuming that they are 4 hours long) with no diversions ( as you're carrying that, oh so lovely, extra tonne which often proves enough to save your sorry ass ) to cover the 'direct' costs of just one diversion - to say nothing of the intangible costs.
Or that alternatively for the cost of $3500, spread over 100 flights, you will never have to divert ( a simplistic argument I know ).

Now nobody is saying "Fill the wings and put the trip fuel in the centre", but the cost of fuel tanking (or not) policies do need to be seen as part of the bigger picture and include airmanship, rather than brinksmanship !

But as is oft said, "Go figure !"
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 22:05
  #42 (permalink)  
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Why is it that all the reasonable chaps on this thread who advocate the 'extra ton' because the cost is minimal never ended up as my Chief Pilot?

Chiglet I did a GA at Kai Tak one night in a 747-400 and it took 4.6 tons. If you are able to get in a tight circuit after the GA then you could cut that down a bit.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 22:24
  #43 (permalink)  
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I 'm back from another day slaving over a hot radar.

It seems to me that in the world we live in where things go wrong one could never cover all the risks and operate efficiently enough to stay in business; therefore we have to be prudent.

The problem for me here is that I didn't know how things stood until too late. Frankly the extra 2 miles I gave him would have been no good if the traffic ahead had blocked the runway, it would have been a go around anyway. What I haven't yet said is that having replied "no" to the question from tower about fuel emergency the tower considered it unnecessary to send the preceding traffic around and so in the end he didn't get the "protection" that these circumstances DEMANDED. (I later wished I had insisted.)

How can "I cannot go-around" be reconsiled with "no fuel emergency"?

I would like to see the following as standard at LHR:

1. If when advised of your delay on first call you find yourself in the "ballpark" of a minimum fuel arrival I want to know about it. All you need say is "Roger, that will be close to a minimum fuel arrival".

2. If having been vectored off the stack you are in doubt about landing with minimum you declare a PAN and at that point I will take steps to ensure that you have sufficient space on the approach to switch to the other side should your landing runway become U/S. It would be something like an 8 mile gap instead of the 5 I gave here and a word to DEPS not to line too many up. Provided that nobody abuses the system I can see no problem with it. (And we would soon know if they were!)

I feel very strongly that traffic which is going to land on minimums has got to be treated differently to other traffic because we just don't know what might happen. Tower may have an emergency crossing of the runway, the surface may break up, your gear might not come down, you might get a configuration problem and need time to sort it, windshear. Why do we insist on gambling that nothing will go wrong?

May I finally repeat what I have said many times on these boards. Part of the problem here is capacity at Heathrow. We are a two runway airport handling three runway traffic and that fact is backing us into a dangerous corner.

Point 4
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 03:29
  #44 (permalink)  
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Here is something interesting.
Transport Canada (Aviation) a few years ago removed the requirement from the regs to carry "route reserve" fuel to or from Mexico and the Caribbean.
Now add to this the airline that operates a 'plane at max ZFW and can only take so much fuel so as not to exceed MTOW. Send it to Mexico with no reserve fuel, to airports that have only one runway and no parallel taxiway (that could be used in an emergency) with the closest alternate 100 miles away. To a country where comm is not always the best. A place that is earthquake prone (damaged runways).
Listen to the dispatcher tell you "it's a legal flight plan fuel load" when you ask about the lack of "reserve" fuel.
Why does the industry work against the very people (pilots) who keep it alive ?????
The Captain is NOT always in a position to take the fuel he/she would like to have and the regulators are NOT on the side of the pilot when they remove such an important requirement from the regs. U.K. regs are one thing and Canadian regs are another.
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 04:37
  #45 (permalink)  
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I believe that the plane which crashed years ago onto Long Island near JFK was an Avianca B-707. The First Officer never declared "emergency fuel". My company's FOM states that "minimum fuel" means arrival at destination with no more than 30 min of fuel onboard, and "emergency fuel" is 20 min or less onboard, and must be declared with ATC and demand direct vector etc to final apprioach course. Don't forget about unforecast fog from mountain lakes or ocean bays etc (Kalispell, or VPS). This trap is often missed by "company planners" when planning your fuel (well, the forecast looked good from our computer...).

My company also requires a reason when adding fuel to the original flight release dispatch fuel. Old-fashioned airmanship can't simply "rest on its laurels" over here: it means little to attorneys and bean-counters who run many US airlines. These folks are not in aviation because they enjoy airplanes, or else their backgrounds and resumes/CVs would be quite different. Our companies worship only at the Altar of the Sacred Big Buck. Even long before 9/11.

Apparently, many pilots in the past were afraid to declare "Emer. fuel" with ATC because of FAA involvement, which would mean probing into just why the flight began the approach with so little fuel. A Check Airman hinted to us once before a line check, that pilots can be so constantly distracted in older two-person jet or turboprop cockpits while non-flying pilot John Smith listens to ATIS, flips TOLD cards to landing weight, resets cabin, hydraulic pumps, makes short PA, requests three wheelchairs, listens to briefing for LOC approach to a short, wet, windy Michigan runway...[!], reads a few checklists, and later can't remember when, or if they compared flight plan fuel figures to fuel gauges on intensely-busy flight. "Was that call for us?-whoa, lets go Flaps 5. Tell him we need tower freq several miles before the final approach fix". Not to excuse serious omissions, however.

In Europe and Britain, is the 45 min. or so reserve fuel defined as being at cruise speed at FL 250, as it is here in the US? We have no figure to show us how long reserve fuel last (i.e. 5,000 lbs) during vectors at 6,000' and 190 knots etc. Our contingency fuel for a two hour enroute leg to a large hub, with some bumpy altitudes not considered by dispatch, can often be only 25 minutes or so, with no alternate or extra/tanker fuel. So much for FAR fuel categories. These "legal" figures were probably created by govt. attorneys in the 1950s, not pilots.

If OPEC even considers cutting back again on petroleum output in order to raise the price per barrel, let's suggest, as a c o a l i t i o n , the "donation" of about 100 brand-new fighter bombers (Tornados, Mirages, F-15s, F-18s) with external fuel tanks and lasar-guided missiles to the Israeli Air Force.

How much do you guys east of the Atlantic pay for a gallon or liter of petrol? Wish I could squeeze this into a few handy "sound-bytes" or cliches.

Last edited by Ignition Override; 8th Oct 2002 at 04:52.
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 07:35
  #46 (permalink)  
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This guy apparantly held for ten minutes, that could easily burn his spare ton. Once again lots of key board experts, few facts.
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 07:57
  #47 (permalink)  
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I agree with the main thrust of 411's statements and Greybeard is spot on. Airmanship (airpersonship?) would seem to dictate doing better than the statutory minimum or compliance with company SOP, however difficult the later might be.
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 08:45
  #48 (permalink)  

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"This guy apparantly held for ten minutes, that could easily burn his spare ton. Once again lots of key board experts, few facts"

I thought that 20 mins hold at LHR was classed as "no delay". On that basis you should (if able) pitch up with a minimum of 20 mins holding fuel over and above divert + reserve. If he only pitched up with 10 mins .....LHR ....busy ?

I agree that we don't have all the facts and perhaps the guy had just done an 11 hour sector with stronger winds than forecast......who knows. The only fact we know is that he found himself in the uneviable position of being in the sky with less gas than he would like (I think we've all been there once). He took what measures he felt neccessary to "improve" his position and he landed.

There may be some "keyboard experts" around but I find threads such as this useful and interesting - we can (should) all learn from this.

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Old 8th Oct 2002, 12:20
  #49 (permalink)  
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You were placed in an impossible situation here. From BA's SOPs / orders (was it a Nigel ac?):

<<How can "I cannot go-around" be reconsiled with "no fuel emergency"? >> Exactly. He should already have been on a Mayday if he "could not" GA.

<<If when advised of your delay on first call you find yourself in the "ballpark" of a minimum fuel arrival I want to know about it. All you need say is "Roger, that will be close to a minimum fuel arrival". >>
It did say in our orders to "consider" advising ATC when we "commit" i.e. go below the capability to make the approach, GA and divert. I still do, and the Dctr seems to understand what I mean by "Dctr, FYI, BAxxx, we are now committed to land at LHR". Sounds like A'Ship...

<<If having been vectored off the stack you are in doubt about landing with minimum you declare a PAN >>
We have strict criteria for calling PAN for fuel - and it is exactly as you say. "If ac MAY land with less than Reserve - call PAN" (and Mayday "If ac WILL ...."

Does anybody have evidence to support or deny my off the cuff feeling that 30mins holding at 1500' fuel ("Reserve") equates to a GA and TIGHT radar or visual circuit? i.e. landing with reserve has the capability to GA, but with immediate Mayday and ATC assistance.

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Old 8th Oct 2002, 14:53
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411A, England is not,never has been and never will be an island.
Got that ?
Old 8th Oct 2002, 15:00
  #51 (permalink)  
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I know Iím oversimplifying, but for the life of me, I canít understand the drama about second runway usage and the rest the points being debated on this thread. To me, commercial considerations come a very distant last to damn near everything else when ever diminishing fuel in tanks is on my mind.

As a line driver, Heathrow, (and most of Europe), whilst demanding in some ways is absolutely wonderful to operate into because 99.9999% of the time it has remarkably reliable weather reporting (whatís reported is what you get) and Ė most importantly Ė an ATC system (read ATCOs) you can trust implicitly to do the best job itís possible to do if something unforeseen should occur causing my pucker factor to rocket to Warp Factor Ďní.

As Iíve mentioned already on this thread, fuel planning for Heathrow Ė like any port Ė isnít rocket science, and I daresay 99% of pilots would agree and have a very similar system to my own which avoids any semblance of an Ďedge of the seatí operation, even when they are short on fuel. The magic word is Ďplanningí. If youíve planned correctly, there should not be any nail biting involved.

Before I commence descent, I calculate and write down my minimum divert fuel to all my nominated diversion fields in order of preference. If holding, I add to these figures whatever fuel I believe Iíll burn between the holding point and the threshold.

Fact 1: if still in the hold, once I go below the sum of those two figures for an individual diversion field, that field is no longer an option. So, if thereís no second runway at the destination, or the second runway isnít suitable to nominate as an alternate because of weather or other considerations, itís simple Ė I divert when I reach this fuel figure.

Fact 2: unless I reach my min diversion fuel at the very instant the aircraft crosses the threshold at my destination and then Iím forced to go around and divert to my alternate, I will arrive at the diversion field with more than final reserves Ė sometimes quite a lot more, even if I remain in the hold right up to my last diversion time. Particularly if I divert from the holding pattern at altitude, (say 7000í), I will not have burned the fuel I would have burned between the holding beacon and the threshold. (For my type, at Heathrow, thatís at least 1.1 tonnes Ė (I allow 1.3T, Ďcos Iím a wimp) Ė between Lamborne and R/W 27. I allow 1.5T if 09 is in use.)

I will also not have burned the quite large amount of fuel a missed approach from the minimums would have cost me. At Lamborne, Iím also quite a bit closer to most of my diversion fields, (particularly Stansted), than I would have been if diverting from the threshold. So, even holding at destination right up to the last possible moment, in most circumstances, Iíll have quite a bit of fat to play with upon reaching my alternate.

Personally, if holding, I tell ATC quite early in the piece what my last divert time will be. I amend that as required, (the frequent descents in the hold as I move closer to the head of the queue usually save a few hundred kilos of fuel, allowing me to stretch the last divert time somewhat). If I havenít been cleared from the hold as my last divert time approaches, Iíll tell ATC I can extend my hold until time Ďní nominating the second runway as my alternate Ė and make it clear that I will have no other diversion options. This gives the ATCO the opportunity to tell me whether heíll accept that. (On one occasion, he told me that he expected the EAT to stretch beyond that time, so that option wasnít available to me.) If for any reason he wonít accept my nomination of the second runway, Iím out of there.

If he accepts my use of the second runway as an alternate and Iím approaching my final reserve plus what Iím going to burn to reach the threshold, Iíll give him a Ďheads upí to say that I must commence my approach by time Ďní. If that time arrives and he hasnít cleared me to commence the approach, thereís no discussion Ė itís a MAYDAY. (I canít see that itís anything less than that. In my opinion, thereís arenít too many situations that come to mind that are more pressing in a big jet than running out of noise.)

Similarly if I get to my alternate and for one reason or another it seems Iím going to land with less than final reserves, itís a MAYDAY.

I look forward to hearing from others with different Ė and quite possibly better Ė plans of attack.
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 15:48
  #52 (permalink)  
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Aw gosh - I thought that Scotland and Wales were on the island of England?
Old 8th Oct 2002, 16:06
  #53 (permalink)  
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Extra fuel has no weight
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 18:41
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tea and bikkies

in the forces its called an interview without tea and bikkies, or giving the boss a good listening to! but on a more serious note can any pilots please explain why your so reluctant to say the words pan and mayday? i was in the raf flight ops branch for 23 years and only heard one mayday, and that was a bulldog who lost his engine on departure. even when we had an f104 pilot eject in germany, he didnt use pan or mayday despite talking to us for over a minute. hed had a birdstrike if anyone interested!
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Old 8th Oct 2002, 19:16
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A4 is right.

The flight plan you get from the company is their "dream-sheet" which shows you the way they would like you to run the operation for their best interests. You read it, you accept it if you think it will work otherwise you mentally stuff it in the waste bin and decide how YOU are going to plan the operation using the company plan as a guideline.

Despite your best planning and experience even what seemed to be a generous fuel load in dispatch can turn out to be tight. Bet there is not one person on this post who can state that their dispatch never makes a mistake and that their wind forcasts are always perfect.

Even allowing for wind errors etc. it is usually the last 15,000 feet of descent where fuel embarrasments occur. Everything looks great for an on-time and on-fuel arrival and then everything falls apart. There is no way of anticipating many of these events. The original fuel plan looked great, suddenly you see yourself potentially falling into a big hole. This is probably what happened to the original subject of the post so I certainly hesitate to criticise him.

Recently I went to an airfield having an air display which was supposed to end, according to dispatch, at 16.30 local. When we arrived the display was still going at a little past five o'clock. The into wind runway was not in use because of the display which caused a circular tour of the field of 120 degrees to line up with the runway in use. Because the airfield was using only one runway instead of the usual two or three traffic was backed up for miles, we did a twenty five mile straight in (after circling the field remember). Near our normal final approach fix we showed 9,400 pounds of fuel on landing, we actually landed with 7,900 pounds - THIS FUEL WAS ALL USED IN THE AIRFIELD PATTERN, within 25 miles of the field with the runway in sight on a clear visual day.

Do not criticise anyone elses operation until you have all of the facts.
Old 9th Oct 2002, 01:29
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Perhaps a thought from a long-hauler may be appropriate?

When one faces the prospect of a 13-14hour trip into the Northern Winter with the commercial object of maximising payload [which, to be fair, is why our employers are in business!! ], it helps to have a reasonable company/regulator fuel policy [the latter, of course, approving the former's policy via the Ops Manual.]

In our case, additions are made to the "normal" policy [and permitted 'deductions' barred!] to permit some guarantee for payload planning, yet leaving both a legal and safe fuel uplift available. Offload of payload is permitted to take fuel above the 'minimum' requirement, but must be done in conjunction with our company controllers. Company preference is to drop in somewhere to get gas and take the payload offered.

Naturally, between Asia and Europe, there's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip! Thus, when we arrive to hold at LAM, we may not have as much gas as one would desire, but things do get "tight". What I emphasise here is that long-haulers can get caught out due to circumstances way beyond their control or foreseeable ken, and VERY close to the destination [Boing has but one example; try the Thai's closing VTBD at short notice for "VIP movement" well outside the oft Notammed periods!! ]

Enough of long-haul defence. May I thoroughly endorse Wiley's approach to the task. It's what I do and teach, but surprisingly comes as a novelty to some. I wonder if I shouldn't cut'n'paste it as I couldn't have put it better. Thanks!

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Old 9th Oct 2002, 02:06
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Yes, we've all experienced that edge of the seat feeling after an 8+ hour flight at a much lower altitude than the computer flight "planned" higher altitudes that just couldn't be had because of other traffic.
And then the usual lengthy, modified, vectored Camrn or Kennebunk circuits at low altitude into JFK. And mind you, the flight plan burn from TOD to landing is only 2700 Lbs! (The flight plan doesn't put you at 11000 feet 50 miles out in a hold)...It doesn't matter what Dispatch says, or what the fuel release is on the flight plan; going into large congested airports, you had better pack an extra 5000 Lbs, just to keep your seat from getting too hot. :o
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Old 9th Oct 2002, 08:22
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It was not a "Nigel" aircraft. It had originated from the far east, had been held down and then re-routed from Afghanistan across Iran.

Sorry to be so vague. I don't want to be specific because this guy was clearly caught out by extreme circumstances and I really felt for him. He landed (just about) on minimum reserve and so hasn't broken any rules, it seems. My sole purpose in starting this thread was not to embarrass the poor guy but to encourage anybody who finds themselves in this position, be it their error or not, to declare PAN early so that we can effectively manage the situation. We must guard against ever getting to MAYDAY due to fuel.

I also wish to emphasise the lack of capacity at LHR and how tight the final reserve seems to leave you guys. I find it difficult to understand that no allowance is made for a technical problem with the aircraft at an inopportune moment. I feel quite certain that if one day somebody is forced to land an aircraft with half the gear up because he didn't have the fuel to address that issue we would say the limits were wrong.

Point 4
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Old 9th Oct 2002, 16:20
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When a pilot plans his fuel load he should take into account various factors that the dispatcher does not usually consider. These include the number of runways available for landing at destination and the possibility of mechanical problems. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to justify extra fuel because one MIGHT have a mechanical or because someone MIGHT block the arrival runway as you roll in on final. Companies do not like spending money on MIGHTS. (Having said that my operation is great, never questioning the captain's decision).

When we decide on our final fuel for a flight it is often what the company suggests because on this day their logic is OK. Oftentimes we see an obvious potential problem and add extra fuel (such as a taxi out for deicing). Many times we accept less fuel than we would like in a perfect world because we are aware of economic pressures and the problem we are concerned about has such low statistical probability of happening. (If you go with the last option you must always have a Plan B, and C, and D).

The third case is when people throw themselves on you mercy. Sometimes the cards turn up wrong. Thank you for understanding that this is not generally stupidity or malice. What happens is that the pilot made a decision based on his best judgement and the information available to him at the planning stage. The game simply changed en-route.

To put the mechanical failure in perspective here are some figures. Our company PLANNED minimum landing fuel is 7000 pounds. MUST land fuel (minimum to fly a very tight VFR patern) is 1400 pounds. If a gear leg fails to lower at the marker you have 5600 ponds of fuel to sort the problem out and get to the threshold. At the fuel burn rate near the ground with the gear partly down this is about 15 mins flight time in which to troubleshhot the problem and fly the aircraft to a new approach - to reach a point where you MUST land on the next approach even if the gear is still partly up.
Old 9th Oct 2002, 16:42
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Thanks Boing, that seems quite reasonable.

Given then that you start a flight accepting that inspite of good airmanship the game may change for the worse, nobody should ever feel ashamed to stick their hand up early. If people do start to abuse the system it will quickly become apparent and they will wish they hadn't.

Point 4
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