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Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel

Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel

Old Apr 16, 08, 2:01 pm
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Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24034468/

Pilots claim airliners forced to fly with low fuel
Cost-cutting measures create serious risk for fliers, flight crews complain


By Alex Johnson and Grant Stinchfield
Reporters
MSNBC and NBC News
updated 10:59 a.m. CT, Wed., April. 16, 2008
As cash-strapped airlines pack more passengers on flights into ever-busier airports, pilots are filing internal complaints warning that airline cost-cutting on fuel supplies could be creating a major safety risk.

The complaints, compiled by msnbc.com and NBC News from a database of safety incident reports maintained on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration, reveal wide-ranging concern among pilots that airlines are compelling them to fly with too little fuel.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 8:14 pm
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I dont think they r flying with too little fuel, but surely not as much extra fuel as they used to when it was at 1/10 the price. more fuel costs more to carry around and makes a big difference. As the article states, the airlines are required to have extra fuel, enough to go to an alternate airport in case a diversion (due to weather or whatever) is needed, plus 45 minutes of flying beyond that. Keep in mind that only pilots who disagree withe the fuel rules are probably reporting on the NASA database so u get one side of the arguement there. I dont think it is such a safety concern but it sure makes for sensational journalism and congressmanship.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 8:27 pm
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The following quote, taken from excerpts from pilots' filings, pretty much sums up a good chunk of the reality of the situation:

As fuel is a good substitute for brains, Iíll just have to add an extra 1500 lbs, just so I wonít have to do some extra thinkiní.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 9:16 pm
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Originally Posted by UAL Traveler View Post
The following quote, taken from excerpts from pilots' filings, pretty much sums up a good chunk of the reality of the situation:
I couldn't disagree more strongly.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 9:34 pm
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Quote:
As fuel is a good substitute for brains, Iíll just have to add an extra 1500 lbs, just so I wonít have to do some extra thinkiní.



If that were only true. Then I would hardly ever need fuel then

Its not like we can control traffic flows, ATC and weather. I for one know my company can look down on carrying contingency fuel but a quick conversation with the chief pilot and I usually win. There is an old saying in flyin'. Gas makes you smart.

I think that article was more puff than proof. Written for the headlines.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 9:53 pm
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FWIW, here on FT I have heard of two diversions in recent weeks after a single attempt at landing because - as the pilots told the passengers on board - there was not enough fuel to go around and then go to an alternate destination.

I remember reading some months ago that one of the majors was reducing the amount of fuel it normally added to requirements as a safety margin.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 10:55 pm
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If fuel were free, or very inexpensive, there would be no argument. The cost to carry additional non-revenue-producing weight would be zero, or minimal. Unfortunately that is now not the case. The luxury of, so as to say, topping off the tanks, is one that fewer and fewer operators can afford.

Flying closer to legal minimum fuel loads simply requires a bit more care and thoughtfulness in planning (metaphorically referred to above as 'brains'). Part 121 transport aircraft simply do not fall out of the sky all that frequently due to lack of fuel.

As an undergrad, I used to do a fair bit of corporate flying along with some Part 135 charter. This was quite a while ago when fuel costs were beginning to increase, and my boss figured out the cost savings of flying with less generous (but certainly legal) fuel loads. I wasn't happy about it at first, nor were the other pilots, but we adapted, and ultimately were quite comfortable with the regime... across a spectrum of aircraft, routes and weather. We found out that it wasn't rocket science to calculate the additional modest fuel increment to get a 3-sigma comfort level. Yes, we had to be vigilant, but that was part of the equation, no matter what.

In our small group, with each of us flying several thousand hours over several years (yep, that's a LOT of flying when you're also a full-time student), I can't recall any incidents arising from fuel issues.

Just one person's anecdotes.
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Old Apr 16, 08, 11:46 pm
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Originally Posted by UAL Traveler View Post
If fuel were free, or very inexpensive, there would be no argument. The cost to carry additional non-revenue-producing weight would be zero, or minimal. Unfortunately that is now not the case. The luxury of, so as to say, topping off the tanks, is one that fewer and fewer operators can afford.

Flying closer to legal minimum fuel loads simply requires a bit more care and thoughtfulness in planning (metaphorically referred to above as 'brains'). Part 121 transport aircraft simply do not fall out of the sky all that frequently due to lack of fuel.

As an undergrad, I used to do a fair bit of corporate flying along with some Part 135 charter. This was quite a while ago when fuel costs were beginning to increase, and my boss figured out the cost savings of flying with less generous (but certainly legal) fuel loads. I wasn't happy about it at first, nor were the other pilots, but we adapted, and ultimately were quite comfortable with the regime... across a spectrum of aircraft, routes and weather. We found out that it wasn't rocket science to calculate the additional modest fuel increment to get a 3-sigma comfort level. Yes, we had to be vigilant, but that was part of the equation, no matter what.

In our small group, with each of us flying several thousand hours over several years (yep, that's a LOT of flying when you're also a full-time student), I can't recall any incidents arising from fuel issues.

Just one person's anecdotes.
That's interesting information. Thanks. What I don't understand is how an airline famous for saving a modest sum by reducing the number of olives in a salad by one, would have waited to so long to institute such efficiencies regarding hauling along too much fuel.
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Old Apr 17, 08, 12:52 am
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There was a big time lag from that CEO to this one. That one watched olives, this one doesn't.
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Old Apr 17, 08, 7:01 am
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Who here would risk their life for their job?

Now, what makes you think a pilot would do it? Methinks the alleged danger is overblown. They probably want the extra cushion, but I seriously doubt the airlines are allowing planes to go out with less than the required minimum fuel.
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Old Apr 17, 08, 7:17 am
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The airline pilots are always crying about something except when an extra pair of pilots are collecting full pay doing nothing on most US to/from Europe flights because the scheduled flight time is a few minutes over 8.0000 hours.

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Old Apr 17, 08, 8:42 am
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This reminds me of an incident at LHR about 10 years ago where a MH 744 from KUL landed with almost no fuel left. It seems KUL dispatch was limiting how much fuel pilots could load. Sad to see this mindset taking hold in the U.S.

http://www.iht.com/articles/1999/06/12/rsafety.t.php
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Old Apr 17, 08, 9:05 am
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Originally Posted by SRQ Guy View Post
I seriously doubt the airlines are allowing planes to go out with less than the required minimum fuel.
No, they are dispatching some with minimum fuel, not less. It's just that the legislated (FARs) minima are not always enough when there are delays (ATC, wx, whatever).

Solution - simply up the minima as per the FAR.
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Old Apr 17, 08, 9:32 am
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
This reminds me of an incident at LHR about 10 years ago where a MH 744 from KUL landed with almost no fuel left. It seems KUL dispatch was limiting how much fuel pilots could load. Sad to see this mindset taking hold in the U.S.

http://www.iht.com/articles/1999/06/12/rsafety.t.php
What were the circumstances of the incident? Was LHR the primary destination (probably)? What were the minimum required reserves for that particular flight? Did the pilot-in-command verify operation's calculations for the flight? Did the PIC verify fuel loads? Were air traffic, weather/winds, and/or random vectoring issues on that flight? Did the pilot consider an earlier alternate when fuel became an issue, or was (s)he aware that fuel was becoming an issue?

I have not read Malaysian aviation regulations, but I would be surprised if they differed significantly from the US FARs, which has de facto become the gold standard for the world's governments. Thus, I would assume that the pilot would be responsible for that which American pilots are held responsible. Namely, among a myriad of other things, ascertaining the correct amount of fuel is loaded prior to departure and, once aloft, deciding what actions must be taken to safely conduct the flight.

I find the implications in the article to be particularly irresponsible, and gratuitous, e.g.:

"Over the last two years in Asia, well over 1,000 lives have been lost in a total of 13 or 14 major fatal accidents," said Peter Negline of Salomon Smith Barney in Hong Kong. "It's just disastrous. The regulators and everyone involved must take air safety more seriously."
Invoking motherhood, without regard to the supposed topic of the article, is something I find problematic. How many of those accidents were related to engines running dry? My guess: none.
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Old Apr 17, 08, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by UAL Traveler View Post
If fuel were free, or very inexpensive, there would be no argument. The cost to carry additional non-revenue-producing weight would be zero, or minimal. Unfortunately that is now not the case. The luxury of, so as to say, topping off the tanks, is one that fewer and fewer operators can afford.

Flying closer to legal minimum fuel loads simply requires a bit more care and thoughtfulness in planning (metaphorically referred to above as 'brains'). Part 121 transport aircraft simply do not fall out of the sky all that frequently due to lack of fuel.

As an undergrad, I used to do a fair bit of corporate flying along with some Part 135 charter. This was quite a while ago when fuel costs were beginning to increase, and my boss figured out the cost savings of flying with less generous (but certainly legal) fuel loads. I wasn't happy about it at first, nor were the other pilots, but we adapted, and ultimately were quite comfortable with the regime... across a spectrum of aircraft, routes and weather. We found out that it wasn't rocket science to calculate the additional modest fuel increment to get a 3-sigma comfort level. Yes, we had to be vigilant, but that was part of the equation, no matter what.

In our small group, with each of us flying several thousand hours over several years (yep, that's a LOT of flying when you're also a full-time student), I can't recall any incidents arising from fuel issues.

Just one person's anecdotes.
very well put. as a private pilot, i just find that i have to do a little more planning (and thinking) instead of just loading up full fuel for a 2 hour hop. I am starting to do that with my big gas guzzler SUV too!!!
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