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Old 06-12-2008, 02:02 PM
 
Location: Lakeland, Florida
6,975 posts, read 12,506,495 times
Reputation: 8742

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Has anyone had a recent flight where your flight was not able to reach its destination due to lack of fuel on board. I did yesterday from Providence to Atlanta. It reached Atlanta but was not able to circle for the required 20 minutes and had to quickly divert to Greenville SC to refuel. The pilot was honest about the situation and told us of the reasons for the quick decision to abort landing and head to SC. I don't fault the pilot at all but I do fault Delta and any other airlines operating in this manner. Only carrying the bare amount of fuel to reach Atlanta but not have enough fuel on board for 20 minutes of circling scares me. I think Delta and any other airline operating in this manner should be monitored. I realize fuel is very expenisve and the airlines are having a rough time with this, but bare minimum fuel on board isn't the way to go. I think its only a matter of time before something serious happens on this one.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Lakeland, Florida
6,975 posts, read 12,506,495 times
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I accidently posted this thread on another forum before I knew of this travel forum, so disregard it if you already read it on that one.
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Old 06-12-2008, 04:38 PM
 
812 posts, read 3,585,833 times
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It would be my guess that something (or combination of things) changed along the way that made the alternate look like the best decision. Perhaps there was a wait for takeoff? Idle power still takes a lot of gas, especially with turbofan engines, where the ratio of gas consumed isn't that different between idle and full thrust (compared to, say, the ratio of gas in idle/full power in a car). Perhaps a reroute was necessary inflight that made the plan a little longer... you're heading over some congested airspace from PVD to ATL. Perhaps a headwind showed up that was not forecast for. Perhaps it became known that the inflight hold over Atlanta would be taking a long time, and rather than waste everyone's time by holding, then having to divert anyway, it was simply elected to divert immediately.

Bare minimum fuel is indeed illegal, so It's not a factor of your flight getting dispatched with too little fuel. Planning for "enough to get there plus twenty minutes" is only fine for private, visual flight rules flying. Any Airline operation within the 48 contiguous states requires 1)trip fuel 2)fuel to alternate and 3)40 minutes of fuel at normal cruise fuel consumption.
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:53 AM
 
12,334 posts, read 18,445,635 times
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Yeah that doesn't sound right. Not enough for 20 minutes of circling? A good quarter of the flights I take have some sort of delay for 20 minutes or more in the air or the ground.

I'm very close to a million miler on Delta, this has never happened where I have been diverted due to lack of fuel. I think the pilot was B.S.'g you or someone made a serious mistake.
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Old 06-13-2008, 11:54 AM
 
Location: US
1,189 posts, read 3,621,526 times
Reputation: 817
Quote:
Originally Posted by tande1n5 View Post
It would be my guess that something (or combination of things) changed along the way that made the alternate look like the best decision. Perhaps there was a wait for takeoff? Idle power still takes a lot of gas, especially with turbofan engines, where the ratio of gas consumed isn't that different between idle and full thrust (compared to, say, the ratio of gas in idle/full power in a car). Perhaps a reroute was necessary inflight that made the plan a little longer... you're heading over some congested airspace from PVD to ATL. Perhaps a headwind showed up that was not forecast for. Perhaps it became known that the inflight hold over Atlanta would be taking a long time, and rather than waste everyone's time by holding, then having to divert anyway, it was simply elected to divert immediately.

Bare minimum fuel is indeed illegal, so It's not a factor of your flight getting dispatched with too little fuel. Planning for "enough to get there plus twenty minutes" is only fine for private, visual flight rules flying. Any Airline operation within the 48 contiguous states requires 1)trip fuel 2)fuel to alternate and 3)40 minutes of fuel at normal cruise fuel consumption.
It is actually 45 minutes of fuel if flying IFR, 30 if VFR. So they plan for "enough to get there plus 45 minutes or alternate airport."
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Old 06-13-2008, 04:05 PM
 
812 posts, read 3,585,833 times
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*cough*, 3's next to the 2, my bad on the VFR req.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Arp View Post
So they plan for "enough to get there plus 45 minutes or alternate airport."
True, except I believe for when the weather minimums get down below something or other which is what I suppose I was thinking when I believe it has to be in addition to fuel to alternate?...I'm not in the biz so I don't know specifics for 121, been a while, and, ahh, FAR's are in the other room, I'm too lazy

Last edited by tande1n5; 06-13-2008 at 04:45 PM..
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Old 06-13-2008, 04:32 PM
 
8,343 posts, read 9,815,780 times
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Unfortunately, I am in the biz. What a mistake it's been that I regret daily. But I digress! Anyway here we go:

121.639 - For Domestic Flights - must be dispatched with enough fuel to fly to destination, then to most distant alternate, plus 45 minutes. There is a blurb in there about 30 minutes for day VFR but it would be allowed only in a very rare situation for an air carrier. And these are just the bare legal minimums, most Air Carrier Ops Specs are even stricter/more conservative.

tande1n5 pretty much covered it. We have taken off many times with what we thought was plenty of fuel, only to have to make an unplanned diversion. This may be to many, many different scenarios. Stronger than planned headwinds. Rapidly declining weather. Having to cruise at a lower than planned altitude due to strong turbulence up high or traffic up high - which greatly increases fuel burn. Unplanned airport or runway closure resulting in longer than anticipated in- flight delays and holding. Maintenance issues. And so on and so on.

It's hard to say what happened JimRob1, but I wouldn't worry about it. The guys (or gals) up front are paid to make sure the plane lands safely, and they did that. Sometimes that involves a diversion. They wouldn't have done it if not necessary, and it's certainly not normal. But that doesn't mean it's unsafe to divert. ATL is the worlds busiest airport - it's possible ATC told them of unanticipated delays, and he elected to play it safe by refueling.
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Old 06-13-2008, 04:47 PM
 
Location: US
1,189 posts, read 3,621,526 times
Reputation: 817
Quote:
Originally Posted by 11thHour View Post
Unfortunately, I am in the biz. What a mistake it's been that I regret daily. But I digress! Anyway here we go:
I'm sorry to hear that. It makes me feel better in my choice though. I got my private license and was working on my commercial when I began to think I would like flying better as hobby instead of a career. Then along with TSA, fuel prices, and the idea of just going point A to point B all day shuttling hundreds of grumpy people...I think I'll stick to computer stuff.

Do you work for a regional airline or one of the majors? Do you fly?
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Old 06-13-2008, 06:50 PM
 
8,343 posts, read 9,815,780 times
Reputation: 10652
Quote:
Originally Posted by J Arp View Post
I'm sorry to hear that. It makes me feel better in my choice though. I got my private license and was working on my commercial when I began to think I would like flying better as hobby instead of a career. Then along with TSA, fuel prices, and the idea of just going point A to point B all day shuttling hundreds of grumpy people...I think I'll stick to computer stuff.

Do you work for a regional airline or one of the majors? Do you fly?
Check your Private Messages.
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Old 06-13-2008, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Lakeland, Florida
6,975 posts, read 12,506,495 times
Reputation: 8742
Quote:
Originally Posted by 11thHour View Post
Unfortunately, I am in the biz. What a mistake it's been that I regret daily. But I digress! Anyway here we go:

121.639 - For Domestic Flights - must be dispatched with enough fuel to fly to destination, then to most distant alternate, plus 45 minutes. There is a blurb in there about 30 minutes for day VFR but it would be allowed only in a very rare situation for an air carrier. And these are just the bare legal minimums, most Air Carrier Ops Specs are even stricter/more conservative.

tande1n5 pretty much covered it. We have taken off many times with what we thought was plenty of fuel, only to have to make an unplanned diversion. This may be to many, many different scenarios. Stronger than planned headwinds. Rapidly declining weather. Having to cruise at a lower than planned altitude due to strong turbulence up high or traffic up high - which greatly increases fuel burn. Unplanned airport or runway closure resulting in longer than anticipated in- flight delays and holding. Maintenance issues. And so on and so on.

It's hard to say what happened JimRob1, but I wouldn't worry about it. The guys (or gals) up front are paid to make sure the plane lands safely, and they did that. Sometimes that involves a diversion. They wouldn't have done it if not necessary, and it's certainly not normal. But that doesn't mean it's unsafe to divert. ATL is the worlds busiest airport - it's possible ATC told them of unanticipated delays, and he elected to play it safe by refueling.
Yes, your probably right. Im not a pilot by any means so I don't know how it all works. Im just glad the gas station in Greenville was open. Thanks everyone for the info.
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