...I heard the pilot say after holding at one point "minimum fuel advisory at this point"....
In the USA, this radio call merely alerts the Air Traffic Controller who is currently controlling the aircraft that, upon reaching its destination, it cannot accept any undue delay to its approach and landing, due to its projected fuel level on arrival.
This call does NOT:
- * Indicate that an emergency situation exists.
- * Imply a need for traffic priority or routing from ATC.
In my experience, US ATC will then do two things:
Firstly, tell the Captain of any
circumstances they know about, or can foresee, that might (further) delay the aircraft, during the rest of its flight to its planned destination, in order that the Captain can then make a better informed decision as to what to do about it.
Secondly, let the next ATC controller know of the MFA call, as a Heads Up
that BA67 might come up with a request for a diversion, or, if unexpected further delays arise, BA67 might
declare an emergency due to decreasing fuel levels.
Now, despite the fact that this call does not require US ATC to provide traffic priority, unofficially, ... er ... um ... so a close friend of mine tells me
.... workload permitting, US ATC will help in any way they can, without disadvantaging other aircraft.
Thank you, US ATC.
...Can someone clarify if this is an established point...
...How much fuel would we have left at the minimum fuel advisory?...
At least the minimum legal fuel, as shown on its fuel flight plan, which is sufficient fuel to complete the flight safely, from that point, and still land with the required statutory minimum fuel in tanks, whilst still complying with all national and company requirements, but probably little, if any, more than that.
What this call is most likely to mean is that any contingency fuel from the FFP, or any extra fuel loaded before departure, has already been used, perhaps due to adverse winds, lower than optimum flight levels or cruising speeds, or just general ATC delays due to weather or volume of traffic.
Finally, if at any stage the Captain of BA67 had thought:
- * He needed traffic priority from ATC, due to his fuel levels, to achieve a safe landing.
- * He would land at destination with less than statutory reserve fuel remaining in his tanks at touchdown, under EU-OPS, broadly, 30 minutes fuel.
He would have:
- * Made a MAYDAY call to ATC, and declared an emergency.
- * Advised ATC of the flying time, in minutes, he had left until dry tanks.
- * Requested an immediate diversion, or landing, as appropriate.
A Minimum Fuel Advisory call is relatively infrequent but unexceptional.
A MAYDAY call however, due to low fuel levels, will get the Captain's fuel planning and decision making on that flight reviewed in meticulous detail, both by the airline and quite possibly the National Authority. They will look to see if all the rules were followed and if the low fuel situation that developed could reasonably and foreseeably have been avoided.
Both ATC, the major airlines and National Authorities try very hard to ensure that these situations arise as infrequently as possible, and that the procedures for obtaining traffic priority are not abused.
[Edited 2009-12-20 10:14:08]