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Fuel

Old 10th Nov 2012, 18:57
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Fuel

I haven't posted for a long time so this topic may have been beaten to death. On the other hand, things aren't getting better.
I read the stories re Ryanair and fuel and was less than surprised. At my airline it is now routine to land 10 minutes away from a "Fuel Emergency" as defined by our Flt Ops Manual. I did a 5 hour flight (A321) last night and as part of my briefing stated something like this "In the event of any delays we will declare a minimum fuel advisory". After landing I said to the F/O that I could well imagine that this statement might become part of our SOPs. Grim laughter ensued.
Our flt ops department is in the grip of what seems almost to be a religious fervour when it comes to our fuel policy and it seems to me we need a good psychologist in the picture to let them know when they are getting carried away. What would he or she say to to an official limitation of a minimum 1500 kilos over destination to reduce the possibility of aural low fuel WARNINGS rather than because that's too little fuel to be safe? We use 40k per minute for the 319/320 and 60 for the 321. So that's about 37 and 25 minutes respectively although there are other thresholds for the latter.
We are told that the company doesn't mind us landing enroute if we're concerned. This isn't much good when you get to destination and are confronted with one of the lengthy drills in the QRH which, I suppose are there for SOME reason. Everything is based on 2 years of data so, if you have a major failure then as far as the fuel poicy is concerned, 2 years after your bad day at work: it never happened.
My own personal policy is to arrive with no less than 1 hour overhead so I occassionally call dispatch and ask for 200 to 500 kilos extra depending. I don't get any resistance so far but I am supposed to submit a written explanation to a bunch of managment pilots who would have been outraged at the very idea at one time in their careers.
In my little world all jurisdictions would enforce a 1 hour minimum FOD and we could all breathe a little easier. At any rate, thanks to PPRuNe for giving me somewhere to vent my spleen.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 19:15
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So are you a CAPTAIN, or what? Take the fuel you feel is neccessary for any given trip...SOP's don't take into all varibles...(i.e.-wx, airport NOTAMS, etc)
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 20:17
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Well actually Dispatch takes all those things into account and then I take a look to see if I agree. I usually do but not always.
If the world was black and white there would be no need for my post and maybe for parts of this forum. It's in the grey areas where people get put at risk.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 21:12
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I would hope a few legitimate diversions to the alternate would make them realize the fuel savings aren't so great...
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 21:13
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Mulligan; reading your posts, I assume you're in the states where dispatch is an integral part of the operation. Here in euroland, our dispatchers are not trained to the same degree, so all the pressure is on us. On the other hand, as flight crew, no one else enters into our decision process. Yes there are commercial pressures take as little fuel as possible, but unlike in the USA, no one else apart from flight crew are qualified to input into that decision making process.

Dispatch has it's benefits, but so does not having one. Slightly archaic, but there are two phrases that I regularly hear. 1) BITFC and 2) lets do some of that piloting s**t that we're paid to do.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 21:17
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Reason for Extra Fuel

I worked for a 'Major' for many years. We always had a box on the flight plan - be it PLOG or Computer Generated - which demanded "Reason for Extra Fuel....".
The closer I moved to retirement, so the need for extra fuel - for some inexplicable reason - seemed to increase. However, I followed the advice of an old skipper from years back who told me always to take what I wanted and put "PoM" in the box. It worked till the day I didn't.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 21:39
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Years ago one of our captains was up for his annual "chat". It was noted by the Fleet Manager that he had taken well under the average number of days sick over the previous few years. Later the conversation came around to fuel, and it was pointed out that he generally took more fuel than most. "Yep, more fuel, less stress, less time off sick". 'Nuff said.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 22:05
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Originally Posted by gorter View Post
Dispatch has it's benefits, but so does not having one. Slightly archaic, but there are two phrases that I regularly hear. 1) BITFC and 2) lets do some of that piloting s**t that we're paid to do.
I googled "BITFC" and found "Business Issues in the Twenty First Century" and a sit for gay dating. Which of these did you say you regularly hear?
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 22:12
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Because I'm the captain (with some profanity in the middle to finish it off like a jus reduction to a venison steak, but I digress)
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 22:21
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Aha....makes more sense than a gay dating website.
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Old 10th Nov 2012, 22:23
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Boeing & Airbus will in new generations of aeroplanes, rename the vessels in which we put fuel, Air Tanks.
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Old 12th Nov 2012, 14:14
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Interesting. I hadn't realized things were like that in Europe So I'm a little curious. Over here dispatch makes up the flight plan and we pull it up on a computer. There's a fuel figure and we accept or decline, generally the former for me.
So how does it work there? Do you flight plan for each leg and then order the fuel you want? If so you must be very busy! And where does the "pressure" manifest itself? I am presented with a fuel figure and then I'm supposed to submit a written explanation of why I want more. If you are ordering your own fuel then you are not, per se, declining dispatch's reccommendation.
In a broader sense, I am concerned about the direction things are going. State mandated minimums here are 30 mins FOD. But this is an old number and I don't think the regulator ever dreamed that operators would actually be coming so close to it. I can easily see a move by operators to have that figure trimmed in the future. A "rational risk assessment" can justify whatever it's users desire it to.
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Old 12th Nov 2012, 22:09
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It seems quite easy to me as an Ops Bod in Europe!
If you need extra fuel from experience, add it and do the paperwork required. As Captain and Flight Manager, you may just see a change in policy.

If you work under FAA well that is different...........................
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Old 12th Nov 2012, 22:54
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Mulligan,

We checkin and get a flight plan with a 'minimum' company fuel requirement stipulated (to be legal). We (captain and first officer) look at this, the weather, traffic situation, NOTAMS, etc. and decide on a fuel figure - generally more than what the company flight plan says. We then phone it through to the refueller.

No dispatchers this end. It's the crew who decides. Only takes a few minutes (if that) to come up with a figure. Have never been contacted/pressured by the company to justify a decision.

In EU-OPS it's the captain's responsibility to load the appropriate fuel for the flight. This responsibility is delegated by the company to the captain and vested in law. End of the story in my humble opinion (as an FO)!

Last edited by bucket_and_spade; 12th Nov 2012 at 22:55.
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 04:46
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Same in HK and Oz.

Flight Dispatch file the plan and we see the fuel required under our Fuel policy. It's then up to us to decide how much extra to put on......or if you are a company man how much to take off!!

Last edited by nitpicker330; 13th Nov 2012 at 04:49.
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 18:54
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Thanks to all.
I'm in Canada and here we have what's called "co-authority" with the dispatcher. This exists until take off basically. Then it's PIC solely. In all the years I've been doing this (many!) I have only had resistance to a request for more fuel once. I made it clear that the flight would not depart if I didn't get the fuel and that was that. It works pretty well.
But I also sit in the back of these things and I'm guessing that new Captains are fairly well indoctrinated into the new emphasis (obsession) with carrying min fuel. We all become old farts eventually but the message I get is that my 35 years at this is mere silliness when compared with the new thinking and "rational risk analysis etc etc". I will keep doing what I've always done. Any new Captains out there with a POV?
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 19:23
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Company pressure for minimum fuel seems to be the ongoing non-written (written many times) rule all over the place...even in middle east where fuel cost is not as big as elsewhere. Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy with the minimum as long as I'm happy with conditions, if not take an extra. Pretty simple, of course, anything can happen....and when it does, just stick to company policy: divert (or declare emergency). I'm not gonna waste precious time (fuel) holding somewhere for long or maybe shot an approach "just in case"...if I feel it's not gonna work out all I need is those few minutes for decision making.


FB
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Old 13th Nov 2012, 20:07
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An expat was briefed by his fleet chief to stop taking extra fuel and to restrict to the CFP figure. Next flight he needed to divert for fuel.
Fleet Chief denied giving instruction and court of enquiry commenced. Expat played recording of instruction.
Expat employment immediately terminated with 24 hours to leave.
I think it is better for captain to retain choice of fuel. There should be no place in aviation for those who seek to reduce captain authority and I would rather risk terminated for doing what is correct.
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