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No fuel to go-around

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No fuel to go-around

Old 15th Oct 2002, 18:10
  #101 (permalink)  
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You assume incorrectly. Perhaps it is just that we prefer to talk openly about the subject and communicate and share opinion openly.

I have flown for a large scheduled British operator for 13 years based at LHR, and flying what many consider to be a more critical type from the fuel planning point of view for the last 3, and I have never landed anywhere other than planned destination for fuel reasons and have never needed to receive special handling due to fuel endurance remaining to achieve that.

We fly safe and in accordance with the rules - and if diversions go up with time then commercial considerations may change policy. A diversion when the plan does not work out is not unsafe provided the decisions are made in a timely fashion and with due regard to good re-planning, team skills and airmanship.

We do carry fuel appropriate to the circumstances, and your arrogant assersion to the contrary is pointless and unfounded.

Your need to turn this intelligent debate into a p@ssing contest does any resemblance to professionalism no favours.

Last edited by NW1; 15th Oct 2002 at 18:20.
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Old 15th Oct 2002, 20:59
  #102 (permalink)  
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I am horrified to read some of the postings on this thread. In my long and so far, (touch wood) successful career I have only ever once landed with anything like "30 minutes emergency hold fuel" and that was after a diversion in a DC-10. Every other man and his dog was also diverting that morning and it was not a very comfortable feeling.

I simply cannot understand how any captain could get himself on to finals at LHR in such a parlous state without declaring an emergency. How many "suitable" airfields had he just flown over to get this point?

I am pleased to report that my present employer would have me in for serious tea and biscuits if I got on stand with less than 45 minutes of fuel in the tanks. (I might hasten to add that we are making money).

JW411: I have not flown the pond under Part 121 for some years so forgive me if the rules have changed.

Under UK CAA rules, we were only required to carry 5% contingency fuel over the part of the flight where no suitable diversions were available. This, in effect, became 5% of the burn from Shannon to Gander. On the DC-10 this came to 2,000 lbs of fuel.

Under Part 121 rules (using the same aircraft) we were required to carry 5% contingency for the entire flight. This made the flight impossible but it was got round by having two flight plans - one to Gander with full fuel requirement and one to JFK (for example) with the actual requirement. Then, as you very well know, we had a whole series of "re-clear points" like 50W, BGR, BOS etc and so it was that, if the weather was reasonable, you (having consulted the despatcher) were able to proceed and eventually only required to have 5% of the burn from BOS to JFK!

The point that I am making is that under the UK rules (and I apologise if things have changed) we only ever had to carry 2,000 lbs of contingency fuel to start with. You cannot go very far with a DC-10 on 2,000 lbs of fuel!

The whole object of flight planning is to get the fuel right as best you can in the circumstances. We all know that on a pond crossing it takes 10% of the extra fuel carried to get the remainder there but how much does it cost the company to pay for unexpected diversions and how much does it cost to p*ss off 300-odd customers? How much does it cost to have a disaster?

Mind you, this reminds me of the night when a Pan Am 747 diverted from JFK to EWR. One engine shut down on the roll-out and a second quit on his way to the stand.

A few days later I had the privilege of a check with the Feds. The man queried my fuel load into JFK and asked why we had allowed 150 nms diversion fuel from JFK to EWR. I pointed out that was what we had realistically figured was required to get us out of the JFK pattern and into the EWR pattern.

He then told me what a good idea that was for he had personally investigated the Pan Am incident and had discovered that their computer had only allowed 27 nms for the diversion and the crew/company had been accepting this situation!!!!!!

Running out of fuel is about the most stupid way to die in aviation. If you are flying for a company that puts you in bad fuel situations then for God's sake quit and tell every newspaper and TV station in the world!!
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Old 15th Oct 2002, 21:18
  #103 (permalink)  
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Running out of fuel is about the most stupid way to die in aviation. If you are flying for a company that puts you in bad fuel situations then for God's sake quit and tell every newspaper and TV station in the world!!
I thank goodness that I don't. And also that I know that I nor any pilot I have anything to do with ever will need to have either of your sentences apply. I have never landed with 30' fuel, don't know directly anyone who has (have heard of just a *very* few cases which ended safely - as the rules ensure), and the rules I fly to would mean at least a "PAN" call would have been made (ref:<<I simply cannot understand how any captain could get himself on to finals at LHR in such a parlous state without declaring an emergency>>).

I don't think you need infer the parlous state of affairs you seem to from an often over-emotive and over-stated internet chat room!
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Old 15th Oct 2002, 22:09
  #104 (permalink)  
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"Assume incorrectly" you say. Well, from many of the comments here, don't think so.
Telephoned today a senior TWA Captain (retired) whom has flown 1600+ Atlantic crossings to LHR. He was senior enough to have flown almost all of his career in international operations, 707 and 747, mostly in command.
His comment was...."we never EVER left JFK/BOS without at least fifty minutes holding fuel inbound for LHR."
And this guy is British born.
Clearly, his experience with a quality North American operator, and his many operations into LHR, speak volumes about the fallacy of uplifting only minimum flight plan fuel.
Perhaps the UK CAA needs to take a VERY careful look at some British operators.
What they indeed might find may not be pleasant.
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Old 15th Oct 2002, 22:48
  #105 (permalink)  
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What happens when, just as you are starting to relax on short final, thinking "we're going to be ok, I can stop stressing about the fuel now", you get told to go-around because the guy behind you has piped up with "I don't have enough to go-around" and ATC has decided to give him a sterile runway?

I was taught; if there is no declared emergency, there is no priority.
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Old 15th Oct 2002, 23:16
  #106 (permalink)  
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Up s@it creek without a paddle, comes to mind.

All of the major operators that I have flown for, INSISTED that a minimum of thirty extra minutes of holding fuel be carried, and IF the Captain wanted more...NO argument.
CLEARLY, this is the best policy.
I repeat, there can be NO excuse for low fuel for normal ops at LHR (or indeed, any other airport)...period.
Those who steam 'round on fumes are fools indeed.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 00:41
  #107 (permalink)  
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Unhappy What the hell is going on!

I can’t believe this.

I learnt a long time ago that lack of fuel will kill you and your PASSENGERS.

I learnt a long time ago that the company’s policies can kill you and your PASSENGERS.

I learnt a long time ago that airmanship means being cautious.

I learnt a long time ago that being in Command means having guts and the courage of your convictions to do what is right.

I learnt a long time ago that I was not the only pilot in my company to carry extra fuel so I am amongst wise and careful airmen.

I learnt a long time ago that carrying a little extra fuel is not going to get you killed or sacked.

I learnt a long time ago that things go wrong when you least expect it.

And finally, although it may already have been pointed out, the statement “ no delay “ meaning that you might have to hold for 20 minutes in a UK wide rule, not just Heathrow.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 00:46
  #108 (permalink)  
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Thumbs up

I've read this thread from start to finish and it has educated me.


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Old 16th Oct 2002, 04:46
  #109 (permalink)  
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Just for my clarification, is it known whether the "no go-around fuel" statement meant he was 1)flaming out if he went around, or 2)he was diverting if he went around?
Big difference #1 puts you on Page 1 worldwide, while #2 is legal, and has you doing a longer duty period.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 05:09
  #110 (permalink)  
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We can't ever assume that with the gear down on final, we won't get an "anti-skid" inop light: if you begin the flight with this item deferred per MEL, we are told to use about 70% braking during an aborted takeoff. Sometimes the runway is considered short, or wet/slippery, or maybe has an undesireable tailwind, with no naviads to a different runway available, or any combination. We went around years ago when only two green gear lights came on, instead of three.

Has anyone on this forum ever (or know someone who has) declared a fuel emergency, and was the person threatened with license suspension by the FAA or CAA etc, because of ending up with this major fuel problem?

Isn't the fear of certificate action by the company or govt authorities the root of so much anxiety in this business, regarding whether to declare this with ATC? If not, then what else is the cause of so much reluctance to make the declaration very clear, other than pride?

Let's see the truth of the matter.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 08:07
  #111 (permalink)  
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Nigels can attempt to justify their 'committed' approach policy as much as they like - but clearly the airmanship points made by 411A and others are the correct ones.

Whilst BigA might have the luxury of 100% serviceable aeroplanes which don't present their crews with 'gear unsafe' lights or other problems just when they thought that they were OK to make their 'committed' approaches, that's rather a roseate-hued view on life, I would venture to suggest.

Personally I think that those who advocate the so-called 'committed' approach policy as being a safe routine technique should themselves be committed - to somewhere with padded walls!!
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 08:44
  #112 (permalink)  
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'I thank goodness that I don't'

I suggest you search for 'Antigua' s posts, as a Big -400 Captain his experience suggests otherwise.

The legal/company minimum fuel is just that - the minimum. I'd leave rather than work for a company that really pressurised me to take less fuel than I as Captain felt satisfied with.

There will always be a minority who carry minimum and those who take more than I would, I'd rather pax with the latter.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 09:29
  #113 (permalink)  
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Just a quickie on a thread that, as always , generates a lot of emotion.

In the bus from the staff car park the other day I mentioned to a colleague from a well known UK charter airline that we had had to hold an extra 25 minutes going into Faro the other week, due to one of his colleagues coming in to the top of the hold at FL 140 and declaring 7 minutes holding fuel. The wx was exactly as forecast, low vis in occaisional heavy rain (tempo 1500m) and the VOR approach requires 2000m. ATC gave him priority, but running the stopwatch I reckon he burnt quite a bit of his diversion fuel to get in. Total pratt and very unprofessional. "Obviously management" was the embarassed reply from my friend. Says it all, really.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 10:25
  #114 (permalink)  
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Golly, several items here then:

NW1 – The operations manual that is referred to in the document is the JAR-OPS manual, for which you might try Part D of many.

Your company should hold all of the relevant documents for your perusal, but you can find most of them on line:

NATS AIS registration required
JAR consult JAR-OPS 1 Commercial Transportation Aeroplanes

This doesn’t include AMC (acceptable means of compliance) which you will find on the full document which your company probably has on CD ROM. Flight Operations Inspectors produced the original Special Objective Check, and their response is clearly laid out in that document. Why the advice has not been implemented is something you should take up with your management.

JW 411 – Sound advice indeed. The original AIC that I made reference to earlier specifically mentions the extended routings that can apply when diverting to an alternate that lies within the same busy terminal area. I once had about 50 miles added to my departure from Washington on vectors for inbounds and weather. That’s most of your contingency gone before the seat belt sign goes off!

During bad weather in London, LGW often states that it will not accept weather diversions from LHR so declaring an emergency is just about the only way that you’ll get your runway slot at Creepy Crawley International.

On the subject of arrivals policy into LHR you should be aware that the intent is to keep the runway ‘hot’. That means in good conditions about 40 odd landings per hour. To achieve this my friend tells me that optimally he’ll have each stack about ten minutes full to provide a good supply of aeroplanes. The moment something happens to reduce that rate then the delays will back up and you could routinely be into 20 minutes holding. The most obvious reasons for reduced arrival rate could be LVP’s or strong winds, but the temporary closure of a runway for any length of time could happen at any stage. A rejected take-off will close the departure runway until an inspection is carried out (no alternate!), a slow vacater could deny you the runway for the few seconds you need to make the go-around decision.

In the last few years LHR has suffered a closure of the Tower due to a fire, a bomb scare, and a complete electrical failure. During a famous failure at Swan Lake I held for 45 minutes because no stands were available anywhere on the airport.

Other things have a bearing too. A five degree change in mean latitude of the polar front could change the Atlantic arrivals to BNN instead of OCK, and a change in average speed of 20 kts in that jet will change the inbound peak by 25 minutes. Use of the TOS tactical re-route procedure could put most of the European arrivals through BIG instead of LAM or vicky verky. Read the ‘network news’ from CFMU in the briefing room before you go.

Statistics are a tool for describing the envelope of a set of data, they cannot be used to forecast actual experience. They are a guide for wise men, after having considered all of the other variables. I don’t know where ‘statistical contingency’ has come from, but it is not an AMC to JAR-OPS and I suggest that you as Commander personally ensure that you never have less than 5 minutes holding at 1500’. This still does not provide the holding capability that you have been told to plan for in this discussion.
I would be very wary of this policy, particularly as it has been dreamed up by the same company that’s trying to steal your pension!

As for the original topic of this thread of being incapable of safely executing the go-around I will say this:
  • Avoid getting yourself into the situation in the first place. This has to be one of the oldest rules of aviation. Take advice, check every piece of information that you have, ask the F/O, use your judgement, obey the rules, and then no-one can criticise you for using you best efforts.
  • Make a timely decision to divert, and give ATC plenty of notice. They will try to help you, but you can’t expect them to sweep the board clean for you on the spur of the moment.
  • We’ve spoken about possibilities of the runway being denied you at short notice, if you have got yourself into the situation that you cannot go-around without declaring a MAYDAY then you should be on a PAN call from leaving the stack.
  • On a psychological note, a ‘quick radar circuit’ or a ‘snappy visual’ are things that you very rarely do. Your go-around on final reserve is just that. ATC will try to help you as best they can, but are you prepared for flying a safe, stabilised and controlled approach from say 5 miles or left base? You’d better have it right because you don’t have another chance.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 11:39
  #115 (permalink)  
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In this world of informed choice and openess, would it not be sensible for carriers to offer fares which identify not only supplements for security, airport charges etc. but also a charge for carrying safe diversion/holding fuel.

From the calculations cited on this thread I would estimate that on an average flight about Ł1 supplement per punter would suffice.

This would have the advantage of allowing choice when deciding which carrier to use.

I'm off to JFK with the family with Big on Saturday, and would rather pay a few quid more to make sure I get there please.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 13:31
  #116 (permalink)  
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Capt. P

A quick query, please. Did you mean in the above just 5min @ 1,500' or perhaps more??

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Old 16th Oct 2002, 15:45
  #117 (permalink)  
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Thumbs down

The absolute minimum contingency fuel that must be carried is in the following circumstances:

AMC-OPS 1.3 extract:
Contingency fuel, which should be the higher of (a) or (b) below:

a )ii). Not less than 3% of the planned trip fuel or, in the event of in-flight replanning, trip fuel for the remainder of the flight, subject to the approval of the Authority, provided that an en-route alternate is available; or

b). An amount to fly for 5 minutes at holding speed at 1500 ft (450 m) above the destination aerodrome in Standard Conditions.

Clearly if the enroute alternate is Stansted for Heathrow then (b) applies.

Technically accurate in the letter of the law, but not the fuel load that I would choose inbound to LHR. Certainly not the 20 minutes of fuel specifically carried for the purposes of arrival holding which is being discussed in this debate. The sort of fuel an accountant would load when playing Microsoft Flight Sim 2000 on his laptop from the comfort of his plush office.

My thoughts to all in Oz.
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Old 16th Oct 2002, 21:14
  #118 (permalink)  
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Clearly things have changed at Superior Airways from days past.
Recall when I joined SQ in the mid-seventies the ex-BA (BOAC) guys always added an extra three tons for wife and kids...and some didn't have any....
And the company never said boo.
And they were never caught out either.
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Old 17th Oct 2002, 11:39
  #119 (permalink)  
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This post has been extensively discussed and very informative, it has made me think and changed my attitude to fuel polices somewhat. A couple of points come to mind.

Saying "not enough fuel for a GA" is quite misleading if what you really mean is "if we do a GA we will be starting to use our final reserve fuel (and I will then need to declare a mayday, file a report, etc)". It seems to me that it is a good idea to keep ATC in the loop but it would be better to be more accurate in your use of language.

As I understand it you can burn your diversion fuel flying towards your destination if it fullfils a minimum criteria of vis minima, two runways available + no expected delays. As you are advised to carry an extra 20 min holding fuel to LHR I would think that could be interpreted as "always expect delays". So LHR may not qualify for using diversion fuel.

If in a good day with no adverse WX or delays you take plog fuel and this puts you in a position to have to divert to an enroute alternate (for example if you cannot get to LHR with diversion+final reserves) then why not divert? Once this happens enough times the bean counters will do their sums and add more fuel. By pushing your luck you are only confirming their assumptions that their fuel policy is the correct one.

It is their train set, why not follow their rules and divert or declare a Mayday if you have to. Only this way the system will fine tune itself.

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Old 17th Oct 2002, 14:36
  #120 (permalink)  
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Why do people blame the bean counters? Any airline's fuel policy is set by pilots.
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