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Old 08-12-2008, 11:31 AM   #1  
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Default Minimum Fuel

There is no definition of minimum fuel in the FARs. The definition is in the AIM.
There is also no definition of emergency fuel in the FARs.
What do you use for min fuel and how is that determined?

What do you use for emergency fuel and how is that determined?

Situation:
You have been dispatched from KATL to KLAX. Your flight plan is for FL350 but due to turb/wx/ATC, you are initially given FL290. You are over VUZ (Vulcan) in Alabama, level at FL290. You run your fuel log and see that you will arrive at KLAX with min fuel. What do you do while over VUZ? (or if you want, EMB-145 KATL-KPHL.. and over GSO)

What do you expect ATC to do?

FWIW.. there are more than 600 min fuel NASA ASRSs on file and contrary to recent stories, there does not seem to be more ASR being filed. Have you filed one recently for min fuel?

FYI.. background for possible article so all input from professional aviators flying the line will be helpful. Like FOQA, all info sterilized...
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Old 08-12-2008, 11:39 AM   #2  
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Min and Emer fuels are listed in the airline's FOM, I think. I would not find it plausible for FL290 making that big of a difference in fuel burn between ATL and LAX to put you into min fuel. I could see it eating into your 45 minutes worth of fuel at destination though.

This is a good question and I anticipate learning from the responses.
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Old 08-12-2008, 12:10 PM   #3  
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IMHO, I believe that minimum fuel should include enough fuel for a go around from the flare, and, after declaring an emergency for fuel, fly an expedited ILS pattern and land with enough fuel for engine reversing and runway clearing. Not necessarily with enough to taxi to the gate.

If you don't have enough for the go around, then declare emergency fuel.

Joe
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Old 08-12-2008, 12:20 PM   #4  
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In the military - those fuels are often listed in a squadron (or HHQ) SOP. For instance - our NATOPS lists 1,500# of fuel on deck. If you think that you will be on deck with less than that amount - declare EMERGENCY fuel and expect that ATC will handle accordingly. Minimum fuel is a fairly loose term for us. We all learn about it but it isn't a hard number often times. It means that any undue delay will probably drive me into an EMERGENCY fuel siutaiton. We are briefed not to expect any special handling from ATC, but a smart controller/pilot team will realize what is going to happen soon and usually there is some action taken to prevent the situation from deteriorating further.

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Old 08-12-2008, 12:32 PM   #5  
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Default I suspect you may be following the recent story in the press**

"There is no definition of minimum fuel in the FARs."

"What do you use for min fuel and how is that determined?"

121.639 Fuel supply: All domestic operations.
No person may dispatch or take off an airplane unless it has enough fuel—

(a) To fly to the airport to which it is dispatched;
(b) Thereafter, to fly to and land at the most distant alternate airport (where required) for the airport to which dispatched; and
(c) Thereafter, to fly for 45 minutes at normal cruising fuel consumption or, for certificate holders who are authorized to conduct day VFR operations in their operations specifications and who are operating nontransport category airplanes type certificated after December 31, 1964, to fly for 30 minutes at normal cruising fuel consumption for day VFR operations.
[Doc. No. 6258, 29 FR 19222, Dec. 31, 1964, by Amdt. 121–251, 60 FR 65935, Dec. 20, 1995]

121.647 Factors for computing fuel required.
Each person computing fuel required for the purposes of this subpart shall consider the following:

(a) Wind and other weather conditions forecast.
(b) Anticipated traffic delays.
(c) One instrument approach and possible missed approach at destination.
(d) Any other conditions that may delay landing of the aircraft.
For the purposes of this section, required fuel is in addition to unusable fuel.


"The definition is in the AIM.
There is also no definition of emergency fuel in the FARs."

http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviat.../info08004.pdf

"What do you use for emergency fuel and how is that determined?"

Several factors, should be defined in your company's flight operation manual


** This is where I became very suspicious:

"Situation:
You have been dispatched from KATL to KLAX. Your flight plan is for FL350 but due to turb/wx/ATC, you are initially given FL290. You are over VUZ (Vulcan) in Alabama, level at FL290. You run your fuel log and see that you will arrive at KLAX with min fuel. What do you do while over VUZ? (or if you want, EMB-145 KATL-KPHL.. and over GSO)

What do you expect ATC to do?

FWIW.. there are more than 600 min fuel NASA ASRSs on file and contrary to recent stories, there does not seem to be more ASR being filed. Have you filed one recently for min fuel?

FYI.. background for possible article so all input from professional aviators flying the line will be helpful. Like FOQA, all info sterilized..."

Where did you determine the flight level numbers going from Atlanta to Los Angeles?


If you want something for the newspaper:

"Pilots' first concern is safety, the amount of fuel they carry to landing is based primarily on that with a degree or two of comfort level, experience, judgement and good business practices."
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Old 08-12-2008, 12:53 PM   #6  
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Question When is less too little?????

Quote:
Originally Posted by joepilot View Post
IMHO, I believe that minimum fuel should include enough fuel for a go around from the flare, and, after declaring an emergency for fuel, fly an expedited ILS pattern and land with enough fuel for engine reversing and runway clearing. Not necessarily with enough to taxi to the gate.

If you don't have enough for the go around, then declare emergency fuel.

Joe

One problem with any minimum fuel planning is the trust that you really have the minimum fuel you are counting on. If you go around truly believing you only have enough fuel for an expedited ILS and not even enough to taxi in, can you count on your ability to determining exactly how much fuel you will burn to fly that procedure and, more importantly, do you trust the gauges to show how much fuel you really have.
Its one thing to base your TOGW on a company provided ZFW and add up the gauges. Its another to put your life, your crew and passengers lives on the line trusting that a gauge that reads 1200lbs really has 1200 lbs in it (especially when you've never seen less than than, say 4000 lbs on it).
Everyone has some true minimum level that that wont allow the fuel level to reach. Experience with holding, trusting ATC (or more likely not trusting) their EFC's, believing your companies fuel planning ,and harrowing tales of near (fuel) starvation, all play into our psyche of how little fuel you allow loading on your aircraft.
Remember, if you survive an accident/incident, the CP, standards, CEO, will not be sitting there defending the actions that put you before the long table. Its easy for someone else to say, "fly with less". Your a team player, helping the cause of saving weight (money) right up to the time it boomerangs on you, your employer, and your profession. Something to think about when asked to reduce your minimum to someone else's minimum.
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:02 PM   #7  
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StillLearning has it right for PLANNING fuel for a flight, but that does not apply once you have taken off. Once airborn, actual fuel on board and what you think you can do with it is king.

A common question: Can one burn into the 45 min reserve fuel? If one thinks no, then why is it required to be there.
Answer: It is a planning tool that allows options for unplaned delays or deviations. Therefore, burn it if you come across any unPLANNED delay.

Again, there is a difference between planned and actual.

As I see it, there are (at least) three levels of ACTUAL fuel planning:

1- Legal - FAR's say one must cary enough fuel to make it to the destination (or alternate). Flame out on the runway or flame out at the gate is up to you.
Example: zero at destination (or alternate).
2- Personal - Just because something is legal doesn't make it safe. Just like those above, I personnally want enough fuel for at LEAST one go around (maybe more depending on the weather).
Example: 1000 lbs
3- Company - An airline or operator might defined the minimum fuel on board at the destination (or alternate if required) which will often be more fuel than the two options above. This increases the safety margin, lowers liability, but increases the possiblility of a devert if delayed. It is the business decision that they have made, so stick to it. For my airline it happens to be the reserve fuel number.
Example: 2000 lbs

I hope this helps. Please feel free to add your thoughts...
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:11 PM   #8  
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W-

I provided the link that defines min. fuel inflight

http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviat.../info08004.pdf

here it is spelled out:

a. Minimum Fuel. [/B][/SIZE]The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) and the Pilot/Controller Glossary both provide the following definition, which states that, Minimum Fuel: [/LEFT]
"Indicates that an aircraft’s fuel supply has reached a state where, upon reaching the destination, it can accept little or no delay. This is not an emergency situation but merely indicates an emergency situation is possible should any undue delay occur."

Yeah, if it's VMC or high IMC, burning into reserve should be okay.

Again it's a judgement call made in the moment, not by some journalist fishing for a story.
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:15 PM   #9  
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Default I'm with StillLearning

Are you an airline pilot? If so, then ask your Captains. If a Captain, you should have known from experience. Deal with this stuff routinely and it is not mysterious nor unusual for the business.
If a reporter, investigative, etc. You should disclose. Personally would be suspicious of providing info and wacked in the press. Press doesn't like us to much. Anonymous promises are pretty weak unfortunately.
Also, ATC treats us very professionally and complies with the request from the pilots complying with all due regulations.
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Old 08-12-2008, 01:21 PM   #10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L'il J.Seinfeld View Post
Min and Emer fuels are listed in the airline's FOM, I think. I would not find it plausible for FL290 making that big of a difference in fuel burn between ATL and LAX to put you into min fuel. I could see it eating into your 45 minutes worth of fuel at destination though.

This is a good question and I anticipate learning from the responses.
And you have unexpectedly strong headwinds. Does that work? The situation was merely to present a problem and in this case, you will be at min fuel arriving at KLAX.

But since you mentioned it, can you continue and land with less than :45 min fuel? Are you legal?
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