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Old 07-13-2012, 08:43 PM   #1  
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Default 80 lbs over gross TOW

I was supposed to take a couple up for a one-hour sightseeing flight tonight. Guy was 230, me 250, and she was 140 - the couple is friends with the family that owns the FBO/Flight School/Charter company where I am a part-time instructor. The plane had 36 gallons of fuel on it. It is a 1999 172R with a 160HP engine. I ran a W&B and ended up 80 lbs over gross weight.


I found the chief pilot and he said it was too hard to drain fuel out of the plane (all the mechanics had gone home). The couple said they would come back next week. I didn't have any means to drain fuel from the plane so I relented. (The plane was supposed to have less fuel in but it didn't fly this morning because of VCTS and mechanical issues).

About 20 minutes after the couple left the FBO I got a call from the owner and he yelled at me for 20 minutes saying I made the FBO look bad. He said I needed to 'use common sense' when it came to aviation. He asked, "Do you ever drive 70 on the highway instead of 65?" He said sometimes you just need get the job done and that I was splitting hairs because '50 or so pounds hardly makes a difference' - but I can't help thinking that I didn't want the NTSB or FAA to reconstruct my fiery wreckage and cite 'pilot error' if the worst were to happen.

I understand that measuring fuel and such isn't 100% accurate but 80 lbs is well beyond the 'fudge factor'. I feel that since the owner and his ex-wife planned this demo flight that they should have made sure the line guys didn't 'tab' the fuel right before I was supposed to go flying. I pride myself on being a conservative and safe pilot - did I do anything wrong here?

I should add the Density Altitude was 3100' but the runway is about 8100'. There was a small convective cell 5 miles north and a line of TS about 60 miles west. To me it just didn't add up to a great day to push the envelope - not to mention it was Friday the 13th!
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:13 PM   #2  
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A pilots job is to say no when things aren't right. It's an easy job when everything goes smoothly, but the money is earned when things are tough. Your boss sounds unreasonable. Don't let his reaction influence future decision making. Whether 80#s over MATOW is worth canceling the flight or not is irrelevant. You are the PIC and you made a decision based on the safety of the flight. You made a decision that was right for you, and you should be proud of the fact that you stood your ground. Nice job.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:16 PM   #3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IrishFlyer757 View Post
- did I do anything wrong here?
Absolutely not.
(other than maybe picking the wrong guy to work for).
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:33 PM   #4  
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Good call. Imagine what the NTSB report could have said....
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:45 PM   #5  
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80lbs is over the fudge factor? really on any given day airliners take off thousands of pounds overweight, when you think about it per the FAA the avg airline passenger weighs only 175lbs and their bags only weigh 30lbs each. I am sure your little cessna would have handled 80lbs pounds over just fine. I am with the boss on this one get the job done. rookie
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:53 PM   #6  
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Could a 172 have handled it? Of course, no problem. Would the NTSB have blamed you if it had gone down? 100%.

The benefit of being the PIC is you get to make the final call. You can get grilled for not being a 'team player', making the school look bad, cancelling flights, and turning off clients. But it's your certificate on the line, not your boss's. If the PIC says no, it's a no. Period.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:55 PM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atr42flyer View Post
80lbs is over the fudge factor? really on any given day airliners take off thousands of pounds overweight, when you think about it per the FAA the avg airline passenger weighs only 175lbs and their bags only weigh 30lbs each. I am sure your little cessna would have handled 80lbs pounds over just fine. I am with the boss on this one get the job done. rookie
Are you serious? The fact that you think that the airplane could have handled the extra weight is the issue here is concerning. He made a decision regarding the safe operation of the flight and he stuck to it. Sounds like he's got the character to be captain that others sorely lack...
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Old 07-14-2012, 01:51 AM   #8  
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The MTOW on a 172R is about 2,450lb. If he would have taken off 80lb over the limit...that would put him about 3.3% over the MTOW.

That would be the equivalent of a 747-400 (875000lbs mtow) taking off 29,000lbs over mtow.

The pilot made the right call. If you were there a bit early you could have gone up for 1 hour and burned off some of that extra fuel (80lbs = roughly 14 gallons) but since that didn't happen...don't put your life at risk.

As others have said...you don't want to end up being on the front-page of your local newspaper.
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Old 07-14-2012, 04:41 AM   #9  
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Years ago taxied out at DFW and ended up head to with a Saab waiting to go off 18L. Tower cleared Eagle to takeoff and they replied they couldn't go yet, they had to burn another 50 pounds of fuel to get under takeoff weight. Got to love ACCARS.

A LONG time ago at the flight school I taught at a Fed had the student work the W&B down to the pound to see if they could make a flight.

A limit is a limit, yeah it'll fly but if something happens you're as guilty a pound over as a ton.
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:44 AM   #10  
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Quote:
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The pilot made the right call. If you were there a bit early you could have gone up for 1 hour and burned off some of that extra fuel (80lbs = roughly 14 gallons) but since that didn't happen...don't put your life at risk.
When I went through flight training as a student I always got asked questions about exceeding limitations and if it is ever acceptable. My obvious was always "NO!" During an interview for a on demand charter jig a few years ago I was asked similar questions but they always revolved around how to ultimately satisfy the passenger and customer needs. The boss wanted a safe pilot, but also one who is intelligent, can think on their feet, and solve problems to ultimately get the job done and keep everyone happy.

You made the right decision, and your boss should have never questioned it! That being said, Those type of problems are very common and every employer wants a employee that's a problem solver.
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