Deplaned for "Lack of Fuel"

Old Jul 30, 18, 5:17 pm
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Deplaned for "Lack of Fuel" - Any Ideas Why/How This Happens?

Flew from BOS to JAX this past Saturday afternoon. About 10-15 minutes prior to departure, and doors already shut, the captain comes on and tells us we have to deplane and take another aircraft due to "Lack of Fuel." I've flown a good bit in my life and never had this happen to me.

We got off the flight and made our way from A16 to A2 of the BOS terminal. A decent walk. The entire delay was well over an hour while they sorted out everything.

Any idea what the pilot meant? On previous flights I've heard of balancing and removing baggage - even offering PAX vouchers to take another flight. Never been deplaned and moved to another aircraft on the other end of the terminal.

Last edited by Gators300; Jul 30, 18 at 6:11 pm Reason: Added title question.
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Old Jul 30, 18, 9:42 pm
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I once had a flight where the plane's fuel gauge was broken, so the pilots had no way of knowing how much fuel was on board nor could they do any weight calculations because of it. Instead, the number on passengers allowed to board was severely limited. If that happened at BOS, maybe they just found it easier to swap aircraft.

The fight I referenced was on an RJ, fyi.

Last edited by DavidDTW; Jul 30, 18 at 9:46 pm Reason: To clarify type of plane
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Old Jul 30, 18, 10:17 pm
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We were on a DL flight from BOS to MSP when the pilot announced that the fuel gauges seemed to be broken and they were going to use dipsticks. We weren't told whether the gauges were fixed or found to be OK but we left after a delay and made it to MSP. Sadly not in time for our connection.
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Old Jul 30, 18, 11:18 pm
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Fun fact, the only time fuel gauges must be correct is when the tanks are empty. They must show empty in that case. Otherwise they can be off.

As for OP it could be that there was an issue getting fuel, and the other plane had already had enough fuel onboard.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 12:46 am
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I had a flight where the left wing fuel gauge was broken, they measured it with a dip stick, added the right amount of fuel and off we went. Of course the whole process took two hours.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 6:07 am
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Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
Fun fact, the only time fuel gauges must be correct is when the tanks are empty. They must show empty in that case. Otherwise they can be off.
Is this true? That sounds strange. You don't need a fuel gauge to tell you when it's empty, at that point the plane is already going down...
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Old Jul 31, 18, 6:54 am
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Originally Posted by jetsfan92588 View Post
Is this true? That sounds strange. You don't need a fuel gauge to tell you when it's empty, at that point the plane is already going down...
Yes. You want to know the tank is empty if it's empty. Don't want it saying there's fuel when it's empty.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 7:04 am
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Originally Posted by flyerCO View Post
Fun fact, the only time fuel gauges must be correct is when the tanks are empty. They must show empty in that case. Otherwise they can be off.

As for OP it could be that there was an issue getting fuel, and the other plane had already had enough fuel onboard.
A literal reading of the FAR might lead to that conclusion, but a gauge that is inaccurate to the point of compromising the safe operation of the aircraft would not pass certification.

See https://www.av8n.com/fly/fuel-gauges.htm
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Old Jul 31, 18, 10:19 am
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Originally Posted by MADPhil View Post
We were on a DL flight from BOS to MSP when the pilot announced that the fuel gauges seemed to be broken and they were going to use dipsticks. We weren't told whether the gauges were fixed or found to be OK but we left after a delay and made it to MSP. Sadly not in time for our connection.
Were there a sufficient number of dipsticks on your flight?
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Old Jul 31, 18, 10:54 am
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Originally Posted by TheHorta View Post
Were there a sufficient number of dipsticks on your flight?
Possible fewer than the national average on that route.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 12:26 pm
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Fuel gauges have to be accurate for a flight operated under part 121 rules the FAA applies to scheduled airlines. If a gauge is inaccurate it has to be written up and deferred in the logbook. In that case the aircraft has to be sticked. It’s not a simple dipstick. They are magnasticks that come out the bottom of the tanks. There can be 8 or more sticks that must be pulled and then the pitch and roll of the aircraft read off other gauges. The stick readings and pitch and roll produce a quantity. This has to be crosschecked with the arrival fuel and quantity added. If they match you can depart. Enroute quantity is also monitored by a totalizer using fuel burn. It must work if a gauge is inop.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by jetsfan92588 View Post
Is this true? That sounds strange. You don't need a fuel gauge to tell you when it's empty, at that point the plane is already going down...
Not a pilot, but wouldn't the plane essentially be a glider at that point, thus being able to be safely landed? So knowing my tanks are empty could be useful as opposed to considering some other type of engine malfunction.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by Lux Flyer View Post
Not a pilot, but wouldn't the plane essentially be a glider at that point, thus being able to be safely landed? So knowing my tanks are empty could be useful as opposed to considering some other type of engine malfunction.
I'm not sure, and not a pilot either. But does it matter? If you end up gliding (which I don't think is necessarily a given if the plane loses all fuel mid-flight and there's no indicator prior to fuel being empty), you can pitch appropriately and try to land whether the root cause is no fuel or engine malfunction. I suppose it would get rid of the question of whether you need to dump fuel, but still seems much more important to know when fuel is close to empty as opposed to already empty.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 1:11 pm
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I'm sure OP got the complete (and correct) story, with the Captain explaining the details of how the maintenance regulations apply to the flight.
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Old Jul 31, 18, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by Gators300 View Post
Flew from BOS to JAX this past Saturday afternoon. About 10-15 minutes prior to departure, and doors already shut, the captain comes on and tells us we have to deplane and take another aircraft due to "Lack of Fuel." I've flown a good bit in my life and never had this happen to me.

We got off the flight and made our way from A16 to A2 of the BOS terminal. A decent walk. The entire delay was well over an hour while they sorted out everything.

Any idea what the pilot meant? On previous flights I've heard of balancing and removing baggage - even offering PAX vouchers to take another flight. Never been deplaned and moved to another aircraft on the other end of the terminal.
Could be a few explanations. Perhaps the pit fueling system (assuming they have one) was INOP at that gate or they couldn't get a tanker truck out fast enough. Also could be due to a mechanical issue with that A/C.
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