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No fuel to go-around

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No fuel to go-around

Old 6th Oct 2002, 21:18
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No fuel to go-around

A few months ago there was a really interesting thread here, started by Antigua after an ATCO MORed him for asking for a little more room on final when tight on fuel. Well, listen to this:

Whilst in the hot seat this morning I was handed traffic from a most respectable airline which was "...tight on fuel so don't tuck him up". I gave him an extra couple of miles. As I cleared him to descend on the glide he said "be advised we have no go-around capability." S**T! I advised the tower to sterilise the runway by sending the traffic ahead around.

A while later their ops. called to say thank you but not being happy I asked for the skipper to call me. A really nice bloke and we had a long chat.

When operating aircraft at the limit of their performance it is inevitable that occasionally things will go wrong and I don't have a problem with that. Everything seemed to conspire against him and after holding for 10 minutes he landed with enough fuel for about one and a half radar circuits. Had he gone around it would have been a MAYDAY and Captains choice would have been a 180 onto the other end. What I cannot understand is that when asked by TWR (as he started to catch the preceding) if he wanted to declare a fuel emergency (doesn't actually exist) he said "Not yet.".

There is no history of abuse and had we been fully aware of his circumstances his delay could easily have been, "managed".

PAN is bad enough and it gets the desired reaction, let's not go near a MAYDAY.

Don't worry, speak up early!

Point 4

Last edited by 120.4; 6th Oct 2002 at 21:30.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 22:01
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Although England is an island, it is NOT an island to which flights are dispatched to with island reserve fuel.
If ANY flight overflies a diversion airfield KNOWING full well that they will be short on arrival, the Commander needs to be booted out of the respective airline, pronto.
No notice, no pension, no hearing...GONE.
Airlines do NOT pay the Commanders the big bucks for such inaction.
IF airlines condone such action, they should be BANNED from the respective country...period.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 22:08
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The last line of your post is the only one worth reading.

The rest of it is rubbish.

Your attitude has no place in modern civil aviation.

ICAO, and the last round of regulation on fuel policy, has a lot to answer for. Your high-and-mighty response is ill-advised and mis-informed.

Read the rules before you post again on such a topic.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 22:45
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No one want to declare a mayday but the rules are quite clear. If at any time you suspect that you may land with less than final reserve (30 mins holding at max. landing wt.) then you must declare a mayday. If they only held for 10 minutes things must have been pretty tight to start with for a go-around to put them below final reserve, I suspect the clear runway was much appreciated.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 23:16
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411-a...thou doest liveth in disneyland....yes ideally this is the case, but commercial pressures will be caved into by some crews, so this kind of situation wil occur over and over again until the utopia you live in actually exists...so if this how you will manage your tritanic airline....please..I beg you...hire me......but unfortunately reality is another case....
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 23:37
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Having landed at destination with 30mins fuel reserve left on the odd occasion, has made me think that on a 747 there would only be 1 or 2cm of fuel sloshing around the tanks. (info from an engineer).
Quite a sobering thought!
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 23:47
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Perhaps 411A could have used a softer approach but at the end of the day he is absolutely right. Any commander who gets his fare paying passengers in such a dire situation ( not to talk about the rest of his crew) has no place in this business.
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Old 6th Oct 2002, 23:56
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If a pilot knows, or suspects, that a go-around will result in a 'Mayday' fuel state, then I can see no justification for not making an earlier 'Pan' call.

Give ATC half a chance, and they will do their very best to help avoid disaster. Leave it too late, and all they can do is hit the crash alarm.

Last edited by spekesoftly; 7th Oct 2002 at 00:25.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 00:15
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Well how about some actiual numbers? What did this pilot actually arrive with in terms of minutes remaining? Does the respectable company have a respectable minimum planned landing fuel? Does the company have a procedure for declaring "minimum fuel" prior to go going to PAN, then full emergency status? Does the company share flight dispatch and flight following responsibility between the Captain and the Dispatcher? Did the Dispatcher know the fuel level of the inbound aircraft? He could have declared an emerency for the aircraft. Or perhaps the airline has a hard line towards the Captains ordering more fuel than the company deems necessary. Perhaps that Captain wanted more gas, but knew he would be "montiored" by the Fuel Nazis - they are alive and well at some airlines. How much support does the respectable airline really give to "Captain's Authority"?

Lots of ways to see how this could have happened. Not much point in debating this though since some total pillock in Arizona has already got it all figured out.

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Old 7th Oct 2002, 02:25
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A very few so called "professionals" here seem to think that pressing on to destination, knowing full well that they will have absolute minimum (or even less) fuel upon arrival in the TMA need to consider...what will you say and how will you explain yourselves at the investigation hearing?
It ain't the airlines license, it's YOURS.
IF you wish to throw it away, be my guest.
I would expect that the concerned regulatory authorities will be pleased to oblige.
For a very long time airlines have been advised to have at least an additional twenty minutes holding fuel upon arrival in the London TMA...why I wonder is this so difficult for some to understand?
If certain airlines/pilots think they are exempt from this requirement, what reason, pray tell, do they offer?

PS. Ironbutt57, send a CV, you and I just might get along.

Last edited by 411A; 7th Oct 2002 at 02:44.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 02:51
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Wonder what it would have taken for this guy to declare an emergency? After the last one flamed out due to fuel exhaustion on the go around? Try explaining that to the AAIB.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 04:10
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Nothing happens in a vaccum...

This guy may have been pressured by management for adding fuel that dispatch didn't deem necessary. Pilot pushing doesn't just apply to flight and duty time.

411A--I know Ironbutt. I don't think you two would get along very well...TC
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 06:08
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Whilst 411A may have expressed himself in rather a forthright manner, his reasoning is absolutely correct. No-one should arrive with such a dangerously low fuel state and suddenly state that they "don't have a go-around capability".

He's also correct about the definition of 'no delay expected' at LHR - I remember that coming in when revising for ATPL Air Law over 10 years ago....

Commercial pressures and 'Fuel Nazis' seem to be having a dangerously influence on mandatory Air Transport practice; will this only stop when someone has to fly a go-around and then finds that they're in command of rather an inefficient glider? What would happen to the crew if, following the decision of some 'Fuel Nazi' they'd called 'company' when approaching LPD for somewhere for which they did have mandatory reserves indicating their intention to divert to the legal alternate rather than to press on illegally in the hope of making their destination? Although I don't fly commercially, we operate to precisely the same mandates in our Air Transport operations and our ac commanders wouldn't think twice about changing the fuel load or even re-negotiating the itinerary if the contingency fuel available required that the en-route decision point process ('reduced contingency') was likely to be needed. If fuel states are emperilled by commercial pressures as routinely as some posting on this thread would indicate, surely internal company reporting procedures should highlight the problem to the Chief Pilot - and he/she should take up the point with 'management'?

It's not something resticted to minor airlines; a couple of weeks or so ago I heard a well-kown Big Airline pleading with London ATCC for the most efficient profile possible as, inbound from JFK, they were "a little low in fuel reserves today....."

Perhaps the problem is the advent of huggy-fluffy 'business-orientated' pilots on the flight deck rather than the hoary old salts of yesteryear - and the emergence of a somewhat compliant-spine culture in the LHS rather than the old "Kick 'em off and give me the fuel" approach of the past?

Last edited by BEagle; 7th Oct 2002 at 06:21.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 06:35
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Let's look in detail at 411A's case, and see whether we should be agreeing with him or not:

'Although England is an island, it is NOT an island to which flights are dispatched to with island reserve fuel'
- did anyone mention island reserve? No.

'If ANY flight overflies a diversion airfield KNOWING full well that they will be short on arrival, the Commander needs to be booted out of the respective airline, pronto'.
- what does 'short of fuel' mean? Does it mean landing with less than Final Reserve? Or less than minimum for diversion? Either way, the idea that problems are solved by sacking pilots is utter rubbish. I would hope that anyone in airline management these days understands this clearly. (I fear that some do not).

Current fuel planning regulation is almost designed to ensure there are aircraft flying around with perilously little fuel in the tanks in terminal areas. This is FACT. It is fact, because of commercial pressure put on regulators by operators to allow them to save money.

His rant continues:
'No notice, no pension, no hearing...GONE.
Airlines do NOT pay the Commanders the big bucks for such inaction'.
- No, they pay big bucks to pilots for following policy which may include taking minimum calculated fuel for the sector. Many airlines will quickly take action against individual pilots who carry 'too much' fuel.

Finally, we get some value from his post:
'IF airlines condone such action, they should be BANNED from the respective country...period'.
- However, the international/political considerations mean that this cannot be done without causing enormous upset. It has been done in the past, and I hope will be done again when appropriate.

Most company's fuel planning allows the aircraft to land with less than half an hour's fuel, assuming a minimum fuel operation and a diversion. In a busy TMA, will a diversion be carried out without any delay at all..?
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 06:59
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I'm in a rush and so haven't yet read all the responses.

MY understanding is that as things worked out he landed within 100kgs of the final reserve you are speaking about. He mentioned several figures to me and I may not have completely understood him but something like 1900kgs, and he said it was 1200kgs for a radar circuit.

Seems awfully tight to me but he did land with just about company minimums.

Point 4
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 07:45
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Can anyone quote one instance where a reputable airline has fired a Captain for consistantly taking too much extra fuel?
When my airline reduced the descent and diversion fuel, I just increased the amount of extra I put on to cover 20 mins hold at London...never diverted and never declared a fuel emergency or PAN.
Why are people so reluctant to declare a MAYDAY?
I see it in the simulator all the time...it doesn't cost anything!
Remember the South American B707 at Kennedy.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 08:13
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Many, many years ago when Dan Air got their super new 737-300's the fuel police decided that as they were Cat III they didn't need to carry any extra fuel as they would always get in! Memos regarding fuel carried were despatched and the crews departed Sunday evening to AMS, BRU and CDG.
Monday brought fog at LGW but being company men they brought plog fuel. Upon being told there were delays of 30 mins or so all went to STN.
3 Captains went in to the terminal, bought a postcard and sent it to the fuel supremo with the wording "weather bad, wish you were here".
The only people I've heard about diverting due lack of fuel has been the chap charged with implementing fuel carriage policy.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 08:23
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A post earlier in this thread mentions dispatchers and flight following. I often hear US carriers giving fuel remaining when giving position reports.

Can somebody explain how that all works because in my (UK) airline the fuel decision is the Captain's alone (in consultation with his FO and FE). Dispatchers are not involved other than pasiing the figure to the refueller!

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Old 7th Oct 2002, 08:59
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For once I agree with 411A!! Too many Captains are too afraid of their managers and as a consequence AIRMANSHIP goes out of the window witness low fuel states on arrival at LHR of S.I.A. and MAS to name just two that come to mind.
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Old 7th Oct 2002, 09:04
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Cool My aeroplane - My fuel!

I have been operating into LHR/LGW for the past 4 years in command of B757/767 and latterly 777's. Regardless of company policies I have always loaded enough fuel (inbound & outbound) to safely operate the flight. If that results in "excess" fuel being carried then so be it. It's my license and technically my aeroplane so my decision - no question.

Arrived into LHR last week -Tuesday morning - Wx CAVOK with diversion plus reserve plus 30 minutes extra for expected holding. Was asked by a colleague above me in the OCK hold for a swop as he couldn't last to his EAT. We had both arrived from East coast USA and had the same info to plan with. Why did he take min fuel? Even midweek and good wx leads to at least 10 mins holding at LHR and if you have already used contingency fuel en-route then you have a problem.

Two tonnes for the wife and kids? Make that five!!!!!!
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