Running out of fuel.

This forum has been developed to discuss aviation related topics.

Moderators: ahramin, sky's the limit, sepia, Sulako, lilfssister, North Shore, I WAS Birddog

Post Reply
C.W.E.
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:22 pm

Running out of fuel.

Post by C.W.E. » Sun Jul 08, 2018 5:42 pm

Generally speaking running an airplane out of fuel is just plain stupid.

However there can be issues that arise that are beyond the pilots control.

How many can you think of?
---------- ADS -----------
  

Zaibatsu
Rank 6
Rank 6
Posts: 417
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:37 am

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Zaibatsu » Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:24 pm

Leak. Blockage (feed, return, or vent). Icing. Contamination. System failure (pump, valve).
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
rookiepilot
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1401
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:50 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by rookiepilot » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:08 pm

I can think of a couple, but why invite the trolls to feed on a valid answer.
---------- ADS -----------
  

C.W.E.
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:22 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by C.W.E. » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:34 pm

I did not ask the question properly, what I meant to ask is what excuses are there for running out of fuel, not what mechanical or icing or contamination issues would cause the engine to quit.

So now that that part has been explained lets see what other comments we get.
---------- ADS -----------
  
Last edited by C.W.E. on Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rookiepilot
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1401
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:50 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by rookiepilot » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:41 pm

Fine. Here's one.

You arrive at remote alternate # 1, and find it's zero / zero, or the only, short runway is completely blocked by a just prior incident. Hours to clear.

You are marginal on fuel to alternate #2. Terrain below is extremely nasty, + maybe hard IMC, except around alternate #2.

What do you do? Try the zero zero, (if that's the scenario) as one poster I know would advocate? Or try for the only other alternate?
---------- ADS -----------
  

C.W.E.
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:22 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by C.W.E. » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:53 pm

What do you do? Try the zero zero, (if that's the scenario) as one poster I know would advocate? Or try for the only other alternate?

There were two times during my flying career when I had to make the decision to land zero/zero.

The first was due to the weather going zero zero and no sign of it happening in the forecast, and ATC did not advise me of the weather change when I had position reported while flying over an airport that had legal weather limits at the time..

The second was due to losing an engine en-route and the destination went zero zero in ice fog just prior to my arrival and it would have been to risky to try for the alternate so I chose the zero zero landing option.

It is not really all that difficult as long as you are comfortable with performing zero zero landings by training for such a situation.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Donald
Rank 10
Rank 10
Posts: 2128
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:34 am
Location: Canada

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Donald » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:57 pm

C.W.E. wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:34 pm
what excuses are there for running out of fuel,
Having a gun to your head?
IMG_3965.JPG
IMG_3965.JPG (27.53 KiB) Viewed 1761 times
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
rookiepilot
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1401
Joined: Sat Apr 01, 2017 3:50 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by rookiepilot » Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:57 pm

C.W.E. wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:53 pm
What do you do? Try the zero zero, (if that's the scenario) as one poster I know would advocate? Or try for the only other alternate?

There were two times during my flying career when I had to make the decision to land zero/zero.

The first was due to the weather going zero zero and no sign of it happening in the forecast, and ATC did not advise me of the weather change when I had position reported while flying over an airport that had legal weather limits at the time..

The second was due to losing an engine en-route and the destination went zero zero in ice fog just prior to my arrival and it would have been to risky to try for the alternate so I chose the zero zero landing option.

It is not really all that difficult as long as you are comfortable with performing zero zero landings by training for such a situation.
What in my scenario if the runway is blocked? Do you hold and hope it gets cleared, or try for the marginal second alternate?
Short runway. Can't land on part of it. Terrain is awful around airport, too.

I think these exercises are interesting.
---------- ADS -----------
  

C.W.E.
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1036
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:22 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by C.W.E. » Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:33 pm

If the runway was blocked and would stay blocked until I ran out of fuel and I felt it would be to dangerous to fly to an alternate I would land beside the runway.
---------- ADS -----------
  

goingnowherefast
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1487
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:24 am

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by goingnowherefast » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:02 am

Inaccurate fuel gauges. Gimli glider, and there was an ATR a while back that did similar. Gauge says in 5000lbs when there's only 2000lbs.
---------- ADS -----------
  

pelmet
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3982
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2005 2:48 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by pelmet » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:16 am

rookiepilot wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:57 pm
C.W.E. wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 7:53 pm
What do you do? Try the zero zero, (if that's the scenario) as one poster I know would advocate? Or try for the only other alternate?

There were two times during my flying career when I had to make the decision to land zero/zero.

The first was due to the weather going zero zero and no sign of it happening in the forecast, and ATC did not advise me of the weather change when I had position reported while flying over an airport that had legal weather limits at the time..

The second was due to losing an engine en-route and the destination went zero zero in ice fog just prior to my arrival and it would have been to risky to try for the alternate so I chose the zero zero landing option.

It is not really all that difficult as long as you are comfortable with performing zero zero landings by training for such a situation.
What in my scenario if the runway is blocked? Do you hold and hope it gets cleared, or try for the marginal second alternate?
Short runway. Can't land on part of it. Terrain is awful around airport, too.

I think these exercises are interesting.
It is actually a good scenario and one that I used to think about every time I diverted to an alternate up north which can be fairly frequent. It is nice to say "land beside the runway" but that is not realistic in many airports in rough terrain. There are some situations where you literally do not have another reasonable location to land. There can be minimg strips around which is helpful to be aware of and there are a surprising amount of old Herc strips around(I did at one point have a list of them with coordinates and have been to several re-activated ones) but who knows what their conditions are like. There can be old Dew line sites, some of which could be in good shape but almost none of these places are going to help much at night or in winter.

Depending on the location of the aircraft blocking the runway(such as in a gear up landing), one may have enough room to land. One could try to communicate a desparate message to those on the ground to take the forklift/loader and push the damaged aircraft off the side of the runway just like a crash on an aircraft carrier is tossed over the side to make room for the other aircraft. In the end, you may have to land on the runway and try to be as slow as possible before hitting the other aircraft or intentionally departing the side of the runway depending on the many variables of the situation. Remember, I am talking about being in a large turboprop here, not a small aircraft which allows for more options.

I remember making a long, two hour diversion to my alternate up north a few years back on minimum fuel which passed a couple of enroute airports which did not have fuel, so they were not desirable to land at. I carefully checked the weather at the alternate during the diversion along with notams via Arctic Radio. At some point, we would become commited to the alternate airport where we would land with only final reserve fuel(although there was a mine strip further away which was the desperation alternate for the alternate). I asked Arctic radio to monitor the weather and notams and update me if anything changed but he seemed a bit baffled at my request. The weather was great but you never know when somebody might have an incident and become stuck on the runway and I was concerned that an incident could happen, closing the runway and he might not become aware of it for a time period leading to a surprise nearing top of descent. I also called the CARS at the alternate as soon as possible allowing more time for a diversion to that mine if there was a problem.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Skyhunter
Rank 4
Rank 4
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2008 8:15 am
Location: Near YOW

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Skyhunter » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:41 am

Your on a one way Nuc mission, after dropping your bomb, you head as fast as you can towards the good guys and away from all the planned targets, and eject when the engine flames out.
---------- ADS -----------
  

digits_
Rank 10
Rank 10
Posts: 2136
Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:26 am

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by digits_ » Mon Jul 09, 2018 9:28 am

Skyhunter wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:41 am
Your on a one way Nuc mission, after dropping your bomb, you head as fast as you can towards the good guys and away from all the planned targets, and eject when the engine flames out.
Typical medevac ops
---------- ADS -----------
  

lownslow
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1146
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by lownslow » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:36 pm

C.W.E. wrote:
Sun Jul 08, 2018 8:33 pm
If the runway was blocked and would stay blocked until I ran out of fuel and I felt it would be to dangerous to fly to an alternate I would land beside the runway.
I actually did something sort of like that. Had to take VFR minimum fuel on the nicest day you'd ever seen, get to my middle-of-nowhere destination and there's a dump truck in the middle of the runway. No other airports within a half hour at cruise and nobody answering my radio calls to get that truck moved. Easy enough, just land over the truck.

I asked the airport manager why there wasn't a NOTAM and he said, "I didn't think anyone would come here today."
---------- ADS -----------
  

Heliian
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1463
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:14 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Heliian » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:51 pm

Many people have pushed the limits and learned the hard way. Others are just unlucky or lacked the knowledge to prevent fuel starvation. Helicopters also have the same problem of not enough fuel. Even experienced pilots run out of fuel, it's a tough problem to solve.
---------- ADS -----------
  

goingnowherefast
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1487
Joined: Wed Mar 13, 2013 9:24 am

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by goingnowherefast » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:16 pm

lownslow wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:36 pm
...Had to take VFR minimum fuel...
You've got bigger balls than me. Even on a beautiful VFR day, I'll take enough fuel to get to destination and to another fuel cache with 30 mins left. IFR weather that's obviously 45 minutes, and goes up from there depending on thunderstorms or my trust level in the various alternates. Always nice to have 3 or 4 options in your pocket after missing at the destination.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
Cat Driver
Top Poster
Top Poster
Posts: 18920
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 8:31 pm

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Cat Driver » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:40 pm

For sure there can be unexpected circumstances that can arise during flight that can change your fuel situation, mechanical failures are generally something you have no control over but the amount of fuel you have in the airplane is something you do have control over and it is determined by what you must have for the planned trip plus the legal reserve requirements and enough for unexpected issues that may arise.

Also you need to be aware of your progress and recognize when there has been a change, such as a unexpected head wind which sometimes can be fixed by changing altitudes.

The North Atlantic can be a challenge if you are flying an airplane that is limited in its ability to climb to high altitudes so flight planning must be very conservative fuel wise, I made sure I had more than the legal minimums just in case.

Bottom line I never ran out of fuel during my career.
---------- ADS -----------
  
The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

Donald
Rank 10
Rank 10
Posts: 2128
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 8:34 am
Location: Canada

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Donald » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:57 pm

Here was an example where that little bit of extra gas sure came in handy:

http://tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/a ... 6q0188.asp
---------- ADS -----------
  

Schooner69A
Rank 6
Rank 6
Posts: 497
Joined: Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:17 pm
Location: The Okanagan

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by Schooner69A » Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:16 pm

I effing near ran a helicopter and a Cessna product out of go juice through sheer effing stupidity. More fuel was put in the helicopter than it should hold.

I'm much more cautious now.

My bladder is now the limiting parameter, not the fuel in the tank...
---------- ADS -----------
  

lownslow
Rank (9)
Rank (9)
Posts: 1146
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:56 am

Re: Running out of fuel.

Post by lownslow » Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:18 am

goingnowherefast wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:16 pm
You've got bigger balls than me.
I'm flattered, but they've been retired for their own safety. I now fly as boringly as I can.
---------- ADS -----------
  

Post Reply

Return to “General Comments”