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readytotaxi
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Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:53 pm

Given the price of the stuff and the uncertain world markets I was wondering if airlines regularly "remind" crew of the need to save fuel when ever possible? Does any airline reprimand if they burned more than they should?
I understand that a lot of this is in the lap of the ATC gods as you fly where they tell you but wondered what it was like on different continents?

As an after thought what can you crew do to reduce fuel burn during a flight that does not compromise safety?
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Northwest727
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:15 pm

Yes, they do. In fact several have come to the FAA about it, but I am not sure if anything was ever "done" about it:

Quote:
US Airways pilots: We're pressured to cut fuel

WASHINGTON — The pilots union for US Airways said Wednesday the airline is pressuring pilots to use less fuel than they feel is safe in order to save money.

US Airways Captain James Ray, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, which represents the airline's 5,200 pilots, said eight senior pilots and the union have filed complaints with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The union also paid for a full-page ad in Wednesday's USA Today addressed to "our valued passengers." The ad accuses the airline of "a program of intimidation to pressure your captain to reduce fuel loads."

Ray said soaring jet fuel prices have sent all the airlines scrambling to find ways to cut the weight of airliners because the heavier the plane, the more fuel the plane burns. US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., has recently removed movie players, redesigned its meal carts and replaced glassware with plastic to cut weight.

Jet fuel has surpassed labor as the airline industry's greatest expense.

But US Airways recently crossed the line when it ordered eight pilots who requested "an extra 10 to 15 minutes worth of fuel" to attend training sessions, or "check rides," that could put their pilot licenses in jeopardy, Ray said. The pilots were supposed to report for their training sessions Wednesday, he said.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-07-16-2123901297_x.htm
 
LAXintl
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:30 pm

I'd say airlines are rightfully holding their crews more accountable for fuel usage.

There needs to be a valid operational reason for each Kg/Lb of fuel onboard, so keeping a focus on usage can help minimize needless uplifts.
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YYZRWY23
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:56 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 2):
I'd say airlines are rightfully holding their crews more accountable for fuel usage.

I think a bit of respect needs to be paid to the Captain of each flight. If he/she feels they will need the extra fuel to complete their flight safely, they should not fear reprimand. The Captain knows what he/she will be flying through, and with their experience, I think the airline should give them due credit.

I understand that airlines want to cut cost, but maybe they should have some leeway like airlines have in other aspects in the operation. For example, at AC, the Captain can request push back up to 10 minutes before scheduled departure (or push-back, not sure how it is set). However, if they are ready to go more than 10 minutes before, they must get permission from the flight dispatcher at flight operations. Perhaps the airline and pilots could make an agreement allowing the Captain to authorize "x" amount of extra fuel. If they want more, they must talk to flight operations and the dispatcher can use their professional judgement on if it is necessary or not. If the extra fuel is authorized, a small note from the captain on why it was requested and one from the dispatcher giving the reason they authorized it should suffice.

My thoughts.

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longhauler
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:19 pm

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 3):
For example, at AC, the Captain can request push back up to 10 minutes before scheduled departure (or push-back, not sure how it is set). However, if they are ready to go more than 10 minutes before, they must get permission from the flight dispatcher at flight operations.

This is close ... but not quite. The Captain is not "asking" if he can leave more than 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure time, he is "telling" Flight Dispatch that he is leaving more than 10 minutes prior. The big issue here is "flight watch". One of the functions of Flight Dispatch is the Transport Canada requirement that the airline be in contact with the airplane at all times, and that they must know where the airplane is at all times. There has been some question whether Flight Watch is compromised with an earlier than planned departure. The rule emerged as a result of that question. And, it is normally only a concern with some remote destinations, like from the Caribbean heading to Canada.

However, once airborne, if the aircraft is going to arrive "too early" (staffing or gate issues) then Flight Dispatch will advise the crew to consider a "tactical slowdown". That is entering a cost index of 0 into the FMGC to delay the arrival. I have seen valid points for doing either, and the final decision rests with the Captain.

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 3):
Perhaps the airline and pilots could make an agreement allowing the Captain to authorize "x" amount of extra fuel.

With the Flight Plan, there are statistics showing the fuel burn for that aircraft type, at that time, on those city pairs over the last two years. A 99% percentile is added as a part of AC's fuel policy. As this is in addition to normal fuel burn, alternate and stand off fuel ... it is normally enough.

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 3):
If they want more, they must talk to flight operations and the dispatcher can use their professional judgement on if it is necessary or not.

If the Captain wants more fuel .. he gets it. No questions asked. If the Flight Dispatcher wants to add more fuel .. he can. No questions asked. There is a "co-dispatch" policy up to the point of engine start, and if a disagreement occurs, the most cautious suggestion is used. And yes, you are right, if fuel is added at the Captain's request, it is usually added as such on the Flight Plan.

It sounds like you are well on your way to being one of our Flight Dispatchers! It is good to see someone with such interest.
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Northwest727
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:40 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 2):
I'd say airlines are rightfully holding their crews more accountable for fuel usage.

I disagree. As stated in the FARs, the PIC (captain) essentially has the "final say" in the operation and safety in the flight. If that airplane runs out of fuel and something happens, guess who's going to be in trouble. No, not management, but the captain. So if the captain feels an extra 10 minutes may be needed, then so s/he should have it, no questions asked.

Maybe management should be asked which is more expensive, a few extra pounds of fuel, or lawsuits and jacked up insurance rates due to a mishap that could have been prevented...not to mention, lots of negative publicity (think Colgan).
 
kalvado
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:51 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):
insurance rates due to a mishap that could have been prevented.

What is mishap in this case? Fuel stop? Arriving with fuel emergency (aka 30 minutes worth of gas on board?)

Flying into the weather to reduce fuel burn may lead to real problems - but as far as I understand, things did not go that far in US and Canada (yet?)
 
Mir
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:05 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):
So if the captain feels an extra 10 minutes may be needed, then so s/he should have it, no questions asked.

   Threatening crews for wanting some extra fuel is ridiculous, and if the FAA were doing their job, they'd put a stop to it.

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):
Maybe management should be asked which is more expensive, a few extra pounds of fuel, or lawsuits and jacked up insurance rates due to a mishap that could have been prevented...not to mention, lots of negative publicity (think Colgan).

It doesn't even have to be a mishap. Consider the costs of a diversion because you didn't have those fifteen extra minutes of holding fuel. Suddenly the extra gas starts to look pretty cheap by comparison.

-Mir
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mandala499
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:57 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
However, once airborne, if the aircraft is going to arrive "too early" (staffing or gate issues) then Flight Dispatch will advise the crew to consider a "tactical slowdown". That is entering a cost index of 0 into the FMGC to delay the arrival. I have seen valid points for doing either, and the final decision rests with the Captain.

Indeed... especially for busy destinations... either he/she does that, or he'll hold for longer that he needs to at the destination... and perhaps end up in a clogged frequency... adding to more risk...   

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
If the Captain wants more fuel .. he gets it. No questions asked. If the Flight Dispatcher wants to add more fuel .. he can. No questions asked. There is a "co-dispatch" policy up to the point of engine start, and if a disagreement occurs, the most cautious suggestion is used. And yes, you are right, if fuel is added at the Captain's request, it is usually added as such on the Flight Plan.

As long as it is reasonable, no questions should be asked.

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):
So if the captain feels an extra 10 minutes may be needed, then so s/he should have it, no questions asked.

Here, extra 10 mins or up to X amount of fuel is no questions asked. But if the captain asks for 3 hrs worth of extra fuel, then it's up to the dispatch to OK it or not... depending on the situation. If the traffic at the destination is light, no weather problems enroute or within the vicinity of the destination (actual and forecasted)... then asking for 3hrs extra fuel need to be questioned. The amount bordering "reasonable" and "ridiculous" depends on the situation of the day, and the experience of the PIC and the dispatcher. Now, if a Captain complains why is 3hrs extra fuel is added to his trip when there's a typhoon approaching his busy destination, then questions need to be asked too! It works both ways!

Computerized flight planning now can make the fuel requirements bloody accurate. The enroute reserve built into the minimum sector fuel (Origin to destination fuel burn + x% route reserve + holding + divert/alternate + additional extras due to current circumstances) should minimise the "additional extra" fuel.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
With the Flight Plan, there are statistics showing the fuel burn for that aircraft type, at that time, on those city pairs over the last two years. A 99% percentile is added as a part of AC's fuel policy. As this is in addition to normal fuel burn, alternate and stand off fuel ... it is normally enough.

Thank God for CFP!
Off Topic, you guys use Navtech? Jepp? or Lido? or some other provider for the CFP?
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PGNCS
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:56 pm

Most airlines develop fuel saving strategies and remind crews how they want them implemented at regular intervals. Having said that, I have asked for extra fuel numerous times and have never once been questioned about it. I am grateful to work at a company that respects conservative decision making in their crews and dispatchers.
 
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 21, 2011 11:35 pm

 
LAXintl
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:08 am

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 3):
I think a bit of respect needs to be paid to the Captain of each flight.

Having a crew justify any additional uplift is hardly a reason for disrespect.

If the Captain truly knows something or anticipates something he should share that with his dispatcher and company for the benefit of future flights.
However uplifting extra fuel just for the sake of it, or for 'grandma' without valid operational concern is hardly a model of good decision making process.

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):
I disagree. As stated in the FARs, the PIC (captain) essentially has the "final say" in the operation and safety in the flight.

Final say indeed. But the FARs do not excuse PIC from being accountable for his actions.


Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):
Maybe management should be asked which is more expensive, a few extra pounds of fuel, or lawsuits and jacked up insurance rates due to a mishap that could have been prevented...not to mention, lots of negative publicity (think Colgan).

And management does consider this. I know as I have spent years in flight ops management.

Anyhow, no airline plans below authorized FAR values, something the government has deemed adequate and safe. Worst case you land short, or divert. I cant recall a modern day accident result of fuel starvation.

Quoting Mir (Reply 7):
Consider the costs of a diversion because you didn't have those fifteen extra minutes of holding fuel. Suddenly the extra gas starts to look pretty cheap by comparison.

On a macro scale a diversion (which tends to happen 1/1000 flights amongst US majors) is hardly a sign of failure, nor a huge cost when the million upon millions that can be saved by properly managing needless fuel uplifts.

Anyhow, even the best planning, or full tank of gas is not going to save you from some diversions.

Quoting mandala499 (Reply 8):
Computerized flight planning now can make the fuel requirements bloody accurate. The enroute reserve built into the minimum sector fuel (Origin to destination fuel burn + x% route reserve + holding + divert/alternate + additional extras due to current circumstances) should minimise the "additional extra" fuel.

Indeed, newest forecasting technologies combined with the latest statistical traffic modeling when combined can create incredibly accurate plans.
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RJLover
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:30 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
However, once airborne, if the aircraft is going to arrive "too early" (staffing or gate issues)

As a former STOC Agent... There is nothing that STOC hates more then having a plane show up +10 minutes early (MOST of the time)! 
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Mir
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:37 am

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
Having a crew justify any additional uplift is hardly a reason for disrespect.

Depends entirely on how it's done.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
But the FARs do not excuse PIC from being accountable for his actions.

The FAR's hold him accountable to the FAA, not to the airline. The airline doesn't care whether the PIC follows the regs or not - it's his certificate on the line and not the airline's. So the airline is free to pressure the PIC into doing things that he'd rather not without any real risk of consequences.

If the PIC wants more fuel, that's between him and the dispatcher. The beancounters should leave their noses out of it unless there's something unreasonable going on (which 15-20 minutes of fuel isn't).

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
On a macro scale a diversion (which tends to happen 1/1000 flights amongst US majors) is hardly a sign of failure

I'd call it a failure if the pilot didn't ask for extra fuel because he didn't want to face the consequences from management.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
Anyhow, even the best planning, or full tank of gas is not going to save you from some diversions.

I can't remember where I read this, but ever since AA started getting more strict about their fuel policy, and challenging pilots on how much they added, their diversion rates went up noticeably. That's bad from a customer service standpoint.

-Mir
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YYZRWY23
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:37 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
This is close ... but not quite.

I am trying to recall what a flight dispatcher I know told me about 2-3 years ago when I visited Flight Ops, so I knew I probably didn't remember correctly.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
The big issue here is "flight watch". One of the functions of Flight Dispatch is the Transport Canada requirement that the airline be in contact with the airplane at all times, and that they must know where the airplane is at all times.

So if the aircraft is inside of the ten minute window, it may leave without informing dispatch? Sorry if I am confusing something obvious here, I would just like it clarified if you could.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
And, it is normally only a concern with some remote destinations, like from the Caribbean heading to Canada.

Again, I request some clarification (just for my curiosity and own knowledge). I was thinking that maybe due to limited gate space at these destinations, leaving too early could interfere with airport operations. I wouldn't think arriving back at YYZ for example (with so many gates and staff) would be an issue.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
A 99% percentile is added as a part of AC's fuel policy.

Could you explain this aspect of the policy? I don't imagine you add 99% of what you need for the trip...?

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
It sounds like you are well on your way to being one of our Flight Dispatchers! It is good to see someone with such interest.

Hopefully I am. Year one of university is almost complete, so a few more years. Sorry for all of the questions, but I am trying to get as much knowledge as I can from these forums and those I know at the airline. Thanks for all of your help!

YYZRWY23
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longhauler
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:13 am

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 14):
So if the aircraft is inside of the ten minute window, it may leave without informing dispatch? Sorry if I am confusing something obvious here, I would just like it clarified if you could.

If you read between the lines, one can assume that 10 minutes is what Transport Canada would consider to be acceptable to be out of touch from the aircraft. But ... it actually goes a little further than that. For example on flights to the US, the 10 minutes is law. So, if we push on schedule, but take more than 10 minutes to reach the runway, (which would be most of the time) we have to update our take-off time. Even though the ACARS has already shown an out time, just not yet the off time.

Quoting YYZRWY23 (Reply 14):
Could you explain this aspect of the policy? I don't imagine you add 99% of what you need for the trip...?

No, you are right, I worded that a bit vaguely. Look at it another way. The fuel burn is calculated for the flight using our flight planning computer (Lido in AC's case). So, from the point of take-off, to the point of landing, on the conditions of that day, with the load you are carrying on the specific fin you are flying, right to the kilo ... the fuel burn is calculated. Right to the kilo!!! Then, they look statistically at how that has varied over the last 2 years, in relation to the planned fuel burn. Sometimes it is more, sometimes less ... but all are placed on a bell curve. Then they look at what the fuel burn was for the 99 percentile, and the additional above planned burn is added to the flight plan.

For example, I pulled out a flight plan for a B767-300 today, flying YVR.

On top of the normal fuel requirements for the flight;
Taxi, burn, alternate, and final reserve ... there was some additional fuel.
Among that was 900K of fuel termed CONT99. This is the 99 percentile fuel. Basically what it means is that 1% of the time over the last two years, the fuel burn was 900K higher than planned, for whatever reason.

Armed with these statistics, it is pretty hard not to accept a flight plan as written by the dispatcher, and most of the time, that is exactly what happens!

[Edited 2011-03-21 19:23:47]
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YYZRWY23
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:08 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 15):
If you read between the lines, one can assume that 10 minutes is what Transport Canada would consider to be acceptable to be out of touch from the aircraft. But ... it actually goes a little further than that. For example on flights to the US, the 10 minutes is law. So, if we push on schedule, but take more than 10 minutes to reach the runway, (which would be most of the time) we have to update our take-off time. Even though the ACARS has already shown an out time, just not yet the off time.

Thank you for the explanation. That makes sense.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 15):
Then, they look statistically at how that has varied over the last 2 years, in relation to the planned fuel burn. Sometimes it is more, sometimes less ... but all are placed on a bell curve. Then they look at what the fuel burn was for the 99 percentile, and the additional above planned burn is added to the flight plan.

For example, I pulled out a flight plan for a B767-300 today, flying YVR.

On top of the normal fuel requirements for the flight;
Taxi, burn, alternate, and final reserve ... there was some additional fuel.
Among that was 900K of fuel termed CONT99. This is the 99 percentile fuel. Basically what it means is that 1% of the time over the last two years, the fuel burn was 900K higher than planned, for whatever reason.

Alright, all I needed was an example to get it. I have a flight plan at home from a CO flight I took, so I am going to examine it once I am done school for the year and see if I can find this type of thing on there.

Thanks again for the great explanations longhauler, I do appreciate it.

YYZRWY23
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LAXintl
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:39 am

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
The FAR's hold him accountable to the FAA, not to the airline. The airline doesn't care whether the PIC follows the regs or not - it's his certificate on the line and not the airline's.

Wrong. The FAA does care what the airline does, and the airline certificate is very much subject to action if its employees (Capt in this case) releapetedly fail to operate safely or legally.

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
I can't remember where I read this, but ever since AA started getting more strict about their fuel policy, and challenging pilots on how much they added, their diversion rates went up noticeably.

Well since the US airlines data share - AA's domestic diversion rate in 2010 was not out of the averages of its peers, with about a 0.35% chance for diversion for any reason (includes medical, mechanical, weather etc).

More specifically AA, their fuel planning takes into account statistical modeling beyond the vanilla FAR requirements.
The airline can now statistically forecast within designated percentages (eg 90, 95, 99% etc probability) the amount needed fuel should be needed if one is operating into LGA for example at 4pm versus 10am, on a Thursday with VFR versus IFR conditions. Such statistical modeling is quite accurate and when further combined with live ATC airport demand information can provide a very accurate forecast beyond the old book rule of thumbs or wise tail fuel planning some still enjoy experimenting with.

Frankly I'd rather have some math and science behind my flights fuel planning them some back of the napkin rule that Capt Joe has utilized since he got his wings in the 1970s.

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
If the PIC wants more fuel, that's between him and the dispatcher. The beancounters should leave their noses out of it unless there's something unreasonable going on

Indeed its between him and the dispatcher. The dispatcher should be the first one to ask the reason why.

If the Captain knows something as to why he requires the additional fuel he should certainly share it and help on the planning for the next flight.

There is nothing wrong with holding people accountable for their actions, and requiring a simple explanation for things like fuel adds.

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
(which 15-20 minutes of fuel isn't).

15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and before you know it you are talking about millions being carried around potentially without a valid operational need.
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Northwest727
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:18 pm

Quoting mandala499 (Reply 8):
Here, extra 10 mins or up to X amount of fuel is no questions asked. But if the captain asks for 3 hrs worth of extra fuel, then it's up to the dispatch to OK it or not... depending on the situation. If the traffic at the destination is light, no weather problems enroute or within the vicinity of the destination (actual and forecasted)... then asking for 3hrs extra fuel need to be questioned. The amount bordering "reasonable" and "ridiculous" depends on the situation of the day, and the experience of the PIC and the dispatcher. Now, if a Captain complains why is 3hrs extra fuel is added to his trip when there's a typhoon approaching his busy destination, then questions need to be asked too! It works both ways!

3 hours of extra fuel I entirely agree is questionable. But the article I quoted talks about US pressuring and punishing their pilots for using any extra fuel, even 10 minutes worth. Is USAirways so freaken' cheap that they resort to punishing pilots that determine an extra few minutes is safe? What Sullenberger did at US was based on his years of experience and training. So a high time captain that feels an extra few minutes does indeed know what s/he is talking about.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
Final say indeed. But the FARs do not excuse PIC from being accountable for his actions.

Anyhow, no airline plans below authorized FAR values, something the government has deemed adequate and safe. Worst case you land short, or divert. I cant recall a modern day accident result of fuel starvation.

The FARs aren't very safe, when you think about it. That's why insurance companies set standards above the FAA's. A part 91 operator can take off in 0 visibility. Safe? Hardly. The difference here is personal minimums vs. FAA minimums.

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
If the PIC wants more fuel, that's between him and the dispatcher. The beancounters should leave their noses out of it unless there's something unreasonable going on (which 15-20 minutes of fuel isn't).

  

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
The FAR's hold him accountable to the FAA, not to the airline. The airline doesn't care whether the PIC follows the regs or not - it's his certificate on the line and not the airline's. So the airline is free to pressure the PIC into doing things that he'd rather not without any real risk of consequences.

  
 
mandala499
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:51 pm

If the MSF is done based on:
Trip + Hold + Alternate and no cushions, then punishing them for 10-15mins of extra fuel is silly.
If it's Trip + Hold + Alternate + a standard extra, then punishing them for 10-15mins on top of the "standard extra" is questionable.
If it's Trip + Reserve + Hold + Alternate, then punishment is also questionable.
If it's Trip + Reserve + Hold + Alternate + extras, then punishing them could be reasonable, depending on the situation of the day
If the MSF's "extra" includes weather cushions and 10-15mins cushion on top of the 99% percentile, and those guys ask for another 10-15mins, then, the punishment can be justifiable.
However, the above should not be taken as a blanket statement. Each of those cases should be investigated and the investigation should be done on "reasonability" basis.

In those punishment cases... what was the MSF based on?
Unfortunately, the USAtoday article doesn't specify it...

I guess the only clue in it is: ""These eight pilots have routinely been above the 60 to 90 minute range. It just behooves us as a company to talk to these guys, figure out what they're seeing that we're not," Durrant said."

If going above the 90 minute range goes to 91-95 minutes, and only these 8 guys experienced it, then what the airline does can be understood. But, if it turns out to be 120 minutes on a regular basis (More than 5% of the time), then the airline is chasing up the wrong tree!

Just my 2 cents' worth

Mandala499
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DocLightning
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 6:30 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 5):

Maybe management should be asked which is more expensive, a few extra pounds of fuel, or lawsuits and jacked up insurance rates due to a mishap that could have been prevented...not to mention, lots of negative publicity (think Colgan).

Given that many flights have plenty of diversion airports available, I think that a crash due to running out of fuel due to this reason is unlikely.

But airlines need to ask how many diversions (and the extra fuel for the extra takeoff) are worth their stinginess.
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Northwest727
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:43 pm

Quoting mandala499 (Reply 19):

Nicely explained, in my opinion. Makes good sense.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 20):

Agreed, but you never know what "could" happen, and that's something nobody, especially a pilot, wants to find out.
 
PGNCS
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 7:51 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
However uplifting extra fuel just for the sake of it, or for 'grandma' without valid operational concern is hardly a model of good decision making process.

Do you have evidence that asking for fuel "for 'grandma'" is a common problem, because it isn't where I work.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
Indeed its between him and the dispatcher. The dispatcher should be the first one to ask the reason why.

And he is.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
If the Captain knows something as to why he requires the additional fuel he should certainly share it and help on the planning for the next flight.

And he does.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
There is nothing wrong with holding people accountable for their actions, and requiring a simple explanation for things like fuel adds.

And we are.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
(which 15-20 minutes of fuel isn't).

15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and before you know it you are talking about millions being carried around potentially without a valid operational need.

I as the Captain (and an active pilot since 1978) have a better idea about what the valid operational reasons for asking for additional fuel are than do administrators sitting in an office hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Quoting Mir (Reply 13):
Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
On a macro scale a diversion (which tends to happen 1/1000 flights amongst US majors) is hardly a sign of failure

I'd call it a failure if the pilot didn't ask for extra fuel because he didn't want to face the consequences from management.

I would too. Fortunately we have a very disciplined pilot group who asks for extra fuel when we believe we need it and accept the dispatchers plan the other 99% of the time.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
Anyhow, no airline plans below authorized FAR values, something the government has deemed adequate and safe. Worst case you land short, or divert. I cant recall a modern day accident result of fuel starvation.

And the FAA holds the PIC responsible for the conduct of the flight. If I am aware of the potential for delays, weather, or any other factors that may require more fuel and I fail to request it, I am remiss. That's why I'm the PIC.

I guess Avianca in New York isn't modern enough for you?

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
Indeed, newest forecasting technologies combined with the latest statistical traffic modeling when combined can create incredibly accurate plans.

And they still can't account for local knowledge that pilots and dispatchers acquire over years of safe operation.
 
LAXintl
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:21 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 20):
But airlines need to ask how many diversions (and the extra fuel for the extra takeoff) are worth their stinginess.

And they do. Hence why a diversion should not be viewed as a failure in all circumstances.

Even with the best planning, and best crew resource management, an unplanned diversion will occur.
The diversion risk on a severe clear VFR day is still more than zero, while the risk during IFR conditions can never be completely eliminated either. This is not to be considered a “failure”, but rather an acceptable risk.

To mitigate the risk, the airlines use a host of things, from basic FAR rules like requiring alternates, to newer statistical modeling and real time traffic management and demand forecasting to aid in fuel planning.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 22):
Do you have evidence that asking for fuel "for 'grandma'" is a common problem, because it isn't where I work.

Subjective fuel adds is an industry wide thing. Breaking old human habits, and rules of thumb in favor of more concise and science based planning methodology is certainly a challenge many are dealing with.

Certainly some carriers and work forces are more disciplined then others.
Quoting PGNCS (Reply 22):
I as the Captain (and an active pilot since 1978) have a better idea about what the valid operational reasons for asking for additional fuel are than do administrators sitting in an office hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Very good, and you should. However not sharing that information, or refusing to rightfully justify actions should not be condoned.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 22):
I guess Avianca in New York isn't modern enough for you?

Avianca was another country, and a whole set of different circumstance not the least of which being a lack of any operational control.

You might be interested to know that vast majority of diversions land at their alternates with in excess of 1hr of endurance, and are not treading into any minimum fuel situations.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 22):
And they still can't account for local knowledge that pilots and dispatchers acquire over years of safe operation.

Indeed, however technology tools are getting ever better and can often more consistently and prudently plan than a human, even doing things like adding fuel when deemed appropriate.
Sit a group of 10 dispatchers together to work a single flight, you could very well have 10-different interpretations and 10-different plans with varied fuel loads, alternates etc..


Ultimately, fuel management strategies can form a key component of the commercial advantage airlines have over each other. Accurate and efficient fuel management on the part of all involved will continue to maintain if not enhance safety.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
Mir
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:39 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
The FAA does care what the airline does, and the airline certificate is very much subject to action if its employees (Capt in this case) releapetedly fail to operate safely or legally.

The fact that Gulfstream is still operating leads me to believe that this statement is incorrect. An airline's certificate is rarely on the line in the same way that a pilot's is, particularly when it relates to flight crew actions.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
Frankly I'd rather have some math and science behind my flights fuel planning them some back of the napkin rule that Capt Joe has utilized since he got his wings in the 1970s.

So would I. But considering that those math and science people have probably never seen the inside of a cockpit, I'd also like the flight crew to be able to tweak the results a bit if they feel the need, and not have to worry about some guy from accounting who has also never seen the inside of the cockpit second-guessing them about it.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):
Indeed its between him and the dispatcher. The dispatcher should be the first one to ask the reason why.

And the only one.

-Mir
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VonRichtofen
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:14 pm

I know there's pressure on the rampers to get ground power plugged as soon as safely possible on arrival so the flight crew can shut the APU down. But that's totally understandable.
 
Pihero
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:55 pm

Fuel planning is probably one of the most discuted subject among employees and one will generally see some differences of opinion between aircrews and flight planners.
1/- The first- disagreement would be about "down to the kilo fuel computation", which engineers and dispatchers are rather proud of, forgetting that gauging those quantities in tank within 1 to 2 % is an ideal (wet ? ) dream.
1 to 2 % ? Doesn't seem much, does it ?... In reality, that's worth some 1.5 to 2.5 tons on a 744.
So, that "down to the kilo" precision is quite laughable to me.

2/- The second argument is about the choice of alternates :Orly for CDG, and vice-versa for Paris or Ciampino for Fiumicino in the case of Rome. The problem is that for siuch closely situated aiports, the weather would actually be quite the same, whatever the TAFs are saying.
On top of that, and this has been deliberately dismissed by my flight-planning friends, a closure of one of these airports for some security reason would in all probability mean the closure of the whole terminal area... a situation that would require some really fancy footwork should the closures happen after one's top of descent.
Finally, and that's a hurting subject : a closure of a destination airport for weather minimums is a general common problem: efverybody and his cousin would want to divert and chances are they will find themselves crowding first the approach to that airfield, then its tarmac, then its taxiways...If you're number 20 to divert to Lille, you could already start planning for somwhere else...which in turn could be the alternate for another big airport....and so on... So, taking minimum fuel in this -easily forecasted situation - is not reasonable.

3/- Route and area knowledge. It'sd better given on an example : Fog over LHR, LVP in force and CatII minimums.
The rest of the country is CAVOK. You take minimum fuel... It's 7.00 Z hr.
A pilot who knows Hreathrow will plan for an extra 45 minutes of holding fuel ( busy time for arrivals )... Consequence is you have diverted to... whatever you'd chosen as alternate. For time wasted, paseengers' delay, cost of operations, you made a baaaad choice.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 17):

Frankly I'd rather have some math and science behind my flights fuel planning them some back of the napkin rule that Capt Joe has utilized since he got his wings in the 1970s.

...and I'll take Captain Joe's figures over your glorified math and science any time, first because I have the NAM tables at my disposal, and they are as accurate as your scientific method, and second because your scientist has sat on his hand the whole time my colleagues were sweating on an approach to bare minimums.Believe me, that's quite enough to force one into some deep respects for natural phenomenons.
Let's face it, fuel planning and monitoring is one of the most demanding aspects of our job and any pilot worthy of that title has worked out means - in my case, and I'm certainly not alone, on mentam calc - of figuring his / her fuel status and fuel strategy at all times.
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mandala499
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:53 am

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
On top of that, and this has been deliberately dismissed by my flight-planning friends

This isn't a problem on the CFP, it's a human factor problem in dispatch in many places. The dispatchers should make the CFP numbers as something that is trustworthy, and not something that's rigidly imposed on. CFP or not, co-dispatch should mean co-care. If not, it really doesn't matter how amazing the system is.

Going for CDG with ORY as alternate, is simply, asking for trouble.

I'd take the Trip, res, hold numbers on the CFP, if the altn is OK, I'd use that as well... but then I'd use the dispatcher and captain Joe's experience to determine whether extra padding is needed or not.

When the beancounters, dispatchers and captains blindly follow the CFP... we have a problem!   

Mandala499
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longhauler
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:30 pm

Quoting mandala499 (Reply 27):
Going for CDG with ORY as alternate, is simply, asking for trouble.

It really depends on the circumstances. And ... why you have an alternate to begin with.

At AC, we have "no-alternate IFR" in some (very strict) cases. However, sometimes we carry an alternate for reasons which are not weather related. When that is the case, then holding an ORY alternate for CDG would be fine. For example:

Say, you are leaving LHR for CDG, only 45 minutes away, middle of the day, no delays and weather is CAVU. ORY would be fine. Or alternatively, same flight ... but later afternoon, during peak times. Current weather at CDG, marginal doing CAT 3 Dual approaches, long delays due traffic and weather ... is ORY a good choice, not likely!

We have a "likelihood of diverting" matrix that Flight Dispatch uses. It encompasses the actual airport, the weather involved, the time of day and the actual flight flown. Using this matrix, Flight Dispatch chooses an optimum alternate, and how much extra fuel should be carried. Funny thing is ... it is the computer version of the "gut feeling" that pilots have, that so many object to.

Namely, if going into LGA at 5pm, with weather at 200 and a 1/2, and CBs in the area, then "gut feeling" and experience tells you that you better be holding a good alternate with a generous amount of holding fuel. And ... that is exactly what "likelihood of diverting" matrix also says!
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
musang
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:03 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 11):
However uplifting extra fuel just for the sake of it, or for 'grandma' without valid operational concern is hardly a model of good decision making process.

Agreed. An old-school training captain on the 146 years ago used to tell people "just put an extra tonne on", which would have been more than 25% extra on some sectors. In those days fuel was not such a big deal as today. That trainer was, incidentally, one of the best I learned under, although even I wondered about his fuel views.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 22):
I guess Avianca in New York isn't modern enough for you?

I don't know whether they had reasonable extra fuel for the weather, but I'd say crew assertiveness was a bigger issue in that particular event.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
The second argument is about the choice of alternates :Orly for CDG, and vice-versa for Paris or Ciampino for Fiumicino in the case of Rome. The problem is that for siuch closely situated aiports, the weather would actually be quite the same, whatever the TAFs are saying.

Our CFPs would select ORY as the alternate in good weather with no complicating factors. Destination Heathrow, the alternate could be Gatwick (about 29 [nautical] miles as the crow flies) , Stansted (about 52), Birmingham (103), Manchester (173), depending on the weather/time of day/all the other variables mentioned in earlier posts, so its an on-the-day calculation. There will usually be a Fuel Alternate and several Commercial Alternates. In good weather the philosophy is that there's little chance of a diversion, so fuel for a technically acceptable Fuel Alternate is included in the toal fuel requirement. If the weather is rubbish and a diversion considered more likely, the Commercial Alternates are where the company would like us to end up from the viewpoints of things like providing onward surface transport for the customers, whether we have station staff there etc.

Another factor built in to the CFP fuel total is the actual or predicted runways in use (in turn dictating taxi fuel), and the longest distance/worst case scenarion SID and STAR.

My outfit publishes a league table of captains and their fuel-greediness. Its done for the other fleet also. Each of us has a secret code number so we can look up our position on the table if we feel like it. Several parameters are included, like extra fuel uplifted, excess fuel (over the statistically expected figure) on arrival, actual trip fuel consumed vs. CFP calculated trip fuel (this one would also highlight the fire-wallers amongst us) etc. etc.

I'm sure some captains don't even bother looking at it. I have, and I see there are a couple at the top (bottom?) of the table who routinely launch with 500 or 800 KG extra (we're a short haul fleet), while at the other extreme are those whose average extra is about 15 KG, clearly accounted for by the occasional tactical extra uplift.

There is no pressure though. These tables have been published every few months for several years now, and I don't recall any reminders to pay attention to them. Whether the habitual "security blanket fuel" takers are ever quietly spoken to, I don't know, but we are definitely under no pressure.

I think the concept of pilots ending up in extra training is rediculous, its a blatant deterrent attempt, and the individuals concerned are probably going to take flight plan fuel on their re-training trips/sim sessions. Difficult to see how it could "put their pilot licences in jeopardy" however.

Regards - musang
 
musang
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:26 pm

Quoting readytotaxi (Thread starter):
As an after thought what can you crew do to reduce fuel burn during a flight that does not compromise safety?

The two biggies are to ensure that if appropriate, you're flying at the optimum flight level as calculated by the Flight Management Computer, and to slow down if feasible.

If the winds aloft are extreme, the flight planning computer has hopefully chosen a flight level to take advantage, or avoid the worst. A short sector may not be long enough to reach Optimum Cruise Level for long enough to make the climb worthwhile, so we apply some common sense and don't always accept the computers' recommendations at face value.

If I'm looking like arriving 10 minutes early, I'll input Cost Index zero into the Flight Management Computer, which sets speed for best economy. On a flight of an hour, it'll mean about 2 mins extra flying time but saves maybe 30 KG fuel (depending on several variables).

Further minor differences can be made by staying at cruise level for as long as ATC will let us, if we have to hold, we do so as high as poss, and at the most efficient holding speed. Individually the differences are minimal, e.g. holding at 10,000 feet uses 1.9% more fuel than holding at 15,000 feet. Collectively, they're more apparent.

Taxiing in, we shut an engine down. This has been discussed in depth elsewhere, but good energy management usually means the extra thrust sometimes required on the one engine is outweighed by the overall saving. Its only a handful of KG, but I'm prepared to accept that if every flight did it, the saving is significant.

Regards - musang
 
dxing
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:42 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
So, that "down to the kilo" precision is quite laughable to me.

And most dispatchers won't do that but it is a starting place for which to plan with.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
So, taking minimum fuel in this -easily forecasted situation - is not reasonable.

First, if CDG is forecasting CAVOK for hours before and after your eta then ORY is a paper alternate and just fine. Long haul flights require an alternate to be named. Nothing wrong with ORY if the forcast is as described CAVOK. Secondly, exactly how often does CDG or ORY or the "whole terminal area" close down for security or any other reason? You can "what if" a situation to death all you want. I had a Captain ask me once where he was going to go and what he was going to fly there with if the aircraft landing in front of him became disabled on the runway and he had to abort. There were at least 3 airport within range of what was planned in contingency before he touched his reserve. Adding more was adding unnecessary weight.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
A pilot who knows Hreathrow will plan for an extra 45 minutes of holding fuel ( busy time for arrivals )...

And the company stats will show that as well.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
Consequence is you have diverted to... whatever you'd chosen as alternate. For time wasted, paseengers' delay, cost of operations, you made a baaaad choice.

Again, you can "what if" a situation to death but in this case given your forecast minimum fuel would not be a wise choice and a dispatcher planning that way would be open to question.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
sat on his hand the whole time my colleagues were sweating on an approach to bare minimums

The pilot that calls and wants to add thousands of pounds of fuel when the weather is IFR but not LIFR when the alternate is solid and contingency fuel has been added to allow for holding is uplifting fuel that most likely won't be used and just adds cost. Even worse is the pilot that does this at the expense of leaving payload behind.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
Let's face it, fuel planning and monitoring is one of the most demanding aspects of our job and any pilot worthy of that title has worked out means - in my case, and I'm certainly not alone, on mentam calc - of figuring his / her fuel status and fuel strategy at all times.

And hasn't thought about the fact that most times there is a place to stop along the way if winds en-route or the situation at the destination changes as drastically as you have chosen for examples.

Quoting mandala499 (Reply 27):
Going for CDG with ORY as alternate, is simply, asking for trouble.

Depends on the weather. If all you need is paper alternate ORY is just fine.

Quoting mandala499 (Reply 27):
When the beancounters, dispatchers and captains blindly follow the CFP... we have a problem!

Which is is why dispatchers and Captains plan flights and not bean counters. The bean counters can publish what it will take to make the flight profitable and it is up the dispatcher and the Captain to find a way to meet these numbers when it is practicable to do so. Irregular ops will always make these numbers look bad but some amount of irregular ops should be figured into the calculation of long term cost of a flight.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 28):
Namely, if going into LGA at 5pm, with weather at 200 and a 1/2, and CBs in the area, then "gut feeling" and experience tells you that you better be holding a good alternate with a generous amount of holding fuel. And ... that is exactly what "likelihood of diverting" matrix also says!

Agreed. The problem with the situation you describe is that I can't think of a time when there would not be a ground delay program in place for LGA given that situation. If traffic is being metered then it becomes the Captains job to manage his speed to the flight plan. Unfortunately more than a few Captains only think about "their" flight and ATC doesn't have the willpower to tell anyone to slow down until it is too late you end up with holding at the destination. I can't count the number of times a Captain has called me asking for more fuel going to an airport with a GDP so they "can make up lost time" en-route. Since most GDP's add 30 or more minutes to the scheduled ETA I've had to explain that if they go any faster than planned they will just help create a bottleneck at the destination as they will arrive earlier than their CTA. Then they will be not only burning extra fuel going faster than planned, arriving only a few minutes earlier, but more extra fuel as they now have to hold due to the bottleneck they helped create. Since experience has shown that this will happen if I see holding happening I will add contingency fuel for holding and document on the release it is for possible holding and not increased speed.
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, a road that goes forever, I'm going to Texas!
 
Pihero
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:21 pm

Quoting dxing (Reply 31):

And most dispatchers won't do that but it is a starting place for which to plan with.

So if I understand you well, you'll start your job with a fallacious basis ? Or does it just please you to announce a fuel computation "down to a kilo" where in fact you start with a mathematically significant nuimber that's one to two thousand times less accurate ?

Quoting dxing (Reply 31):
Quoting Pihero (Reply 26):
A pilot who knows Hreathrow will plan for an extra 45 minutes of holding fuel ( busy time for arrivals )...

And the company stats will show that as well.

Then see the Heathrow stats on diversion on foggy days... Apparently, not many US airlines use that tool you're mentioning.

Quoting dxing (Reply 31):
if CDG is forecasting CAVOK for hours before and after your eta then ORY is a paper alternate

Sorry, don't know that concept of "paper alternate", and my argument was that to chose just a weather alternate is in some cases not enough. I found myself in that exact situation on a flight to Rome and the whole TMA was closed for terrorist threat. A very interesting exercise, that unfortunately the dispatcher never experienced.
The thing that really makes us both differentfrom each other is that "what if " is one of the aspects of my job, whereas to you, it is just an intellectual concept easily dismissed for reasons of statistics...

Quoting dxing (Reply 31):
And hasn't thought about the fact that most times there is a place to stop along the way if winds en-route or the situation at the destination changes as drastically as you have chosen for examples.

Hold on a minute ! Didn't you say earlier that CFPs are so bloody accurate that...........there is no unforecated event ?.. and besides, whether you diverted to your planned airdrome or some closer alternate doesn't change the fact that somehow you had screwed up and incurred all the expenses and the delays of an en-route diversion just because you wanted to optimize your fuel uplift.
As for en-route alternates, most of my return flights from the Orient are planned on an ERR, which is, according to a few US colleagues of mine not really in favour over there... So yes, I probably am a lot more aware of those possibilities.

Quoting dxing (Reply 31):
Unfortunately more than a few Captains only think about "their" flight and ATC doesn't have the willpower to tell anyone to slow down until it is too late you end up with holding at the destination.

Typical accusations hurled at the guys / girls up front : Yeah, we're just a bunch of egocentrical idiotes who should know better about SA.
Problem for that sort of accusation is that there are some airlines the dispatch of which are in permanent contact with ATC at base and a few big hubs... I have the knowledge of the arrival situation at my home airport and in the last twenty years haven't seen a hold there. If my flighrt is late and there is an advantage in accelerating the cruise, I know, even before leaving the American east coast that, yes, I will be accomodated when I arrive even twenty minutes early.
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dxing
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:40 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
So if I understand you well,

Which you evidently don't since you are omitting the part where I state that those numbers are a good starting point for planning. That does not mean they will always work out for a final number. That number is always based on a best case scenario and that happens as rarely as the dire situations (entire terminal area closed) that you use.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
Then see the Heathrow stats on diversion on foggy days...

There is almost always some holding at LHR since it is a slot controlled airport and some pilots, like you, like to arrive "20 early" when they could adjust their speed in some cases (and save fuel in the process) and not help create a bottleneck, fog or no. If the weather forecast is for LIFR that actually helps the situation somewhat as if an aircraft and/or pilot is not CAT II or CAT III capable they won't be in the mix and it clears up some airspace.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
. I found myself in that exact situation on a flight to Rome and the whole TMA was closed for terrorist threat.

Exactly how many times in your career have you run into this? How many times have you added extra fuel and not needed it because this situation didn't occur? Why not plan on adding fuel because an alien spaceship might land at the destination airport as well?

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
The thing that really makes us both differentfrom each other is that "what if " is one of the aspects of my job, whereas to you, it is just an intellectual concept easily dismissed for reasons of statistics...

The thing that makes us different, at least here in the U.S., is that I may be dispatching multiple flights to the same airport over the course of my shift and I'm working in an office with other dispatchers sending flights to airports in the region so we have a much clearer picture of what is going on than a pilot does sitting in a cockpit with one other pilot or at the gate staring at the radar picture on his IPhone. Statistics have their use and are a very good place for which to start planning. They can't account for all variables, that is where experience comes in and an experienced dispatcher has probably planned and worked more flights to Rome than you have ever flown there. As I am sure you are aware there is a huge difference, and requirement, between what a dispatcher for a U.S. airline does and is responsible for than in many other countries around the world.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
Hold on a minute ! Didn't you say earlier that CFPs are so bloody accurate that...........there is no unforecated event ?..

No I didn't, but feel free to quote where I did if you think so.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
whether you diverted to your planned airdrome or some closer alternate doesn't change the fact that somehow you had screwed up and incurred all the expenses and the delays of an en-route diversion just because you wanted to optimize your fuel uplift.

An alternate wouldn't be required by the authorities in charge if they didn't, and the airlines didn't realize that even with the best of planning safety demands you list an alternate and going there when conditions at the destination airport demand it is not considered a "screwup". As was noted above by another poster the cost of that diversion costs no more than pilots carrying thousands of pounds of extra gas routinely over the course of a year when the weather and airport situations do not either require or warrant it. On top of that some level of irregular ops is planned into the long term cost of the flight. Add to that, let's say we add an hours hold fuel, do you think the customers will all still make their connections? After the hour is up and you still have to divert what have you accomplished except to burn an hours fuel for nothing?

Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
As for en-route alternates, most of my return flights from the Orient are planned on an ERR, which is, according to a few US colleagues of mine not really in favour over there... So yes, I probably am a lot more aware of those possibilities.


You will still have enough fuel to make a change of destination in eastern Europe, not the far flung steppes of Asia. You may be aware of the possibility but seem to discount it completely. I find it odd that you probably expect to be well paid for your work, yet seem to be so unwilling to consider helping the very company that employs you find ways to save money to help make a bigger profit which in turns means that you can then be better paid. That no way implies taking unneccesary chances or compromising safety but adding fuel just because an airspace was closed for security one time and it forced you to divert is wasting resources.


Quoting Pihero (Reply 32):
Typical accusations hurled at the guys / girls up front : Yeah, we're just a bunch of egocentrical idiotes who should know better about SA.

The example given was a flight to LGA which is not located in the middle of nowhere and is a major destination for a number of airlines. Unfortunately it is true that some Captains only think about "their" flight, especially true if it is the last leg of the last day. You can be as sarcastic as you wish but if you have been in the business as long as you suggest you know it is true. While your home airport may not have experienced a hold, at other airports, i.e. LGA or LHR, it is more the rule than the exception. An experienced dispatcher is going to take this into account when planning. Again, that dispatcher more than likely is going to have more than one flight going to that airport (especially at a major hub) over the course of their shift and so is in a much better position than one Captain to realize what is going to be necessary to successfully and safely complete a flight.

[Edited 2011-03-24 08:22:43]
Warm winds blowing, heating blue skies, a road that goes forever, I'm going to Texas!
 
saab2000
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Thu Mar 24, 2011 7:38 pm

My airline requires consultation with dispatch if the PIC requests fuel greater than on the release and requires a re-release (or revalidation) if the airplane is overfueled by as little as 200 lbs.

We use 200 lbs in 4 minutes at a normal cruise setting on my airplane.

I suspect that all carriers in the US have similar policies.

If LAXintl actually works for an airline, why don't you read the policy at your airline, find out if its being broken, and deal with it there rather than coming on here and patronizing pilots in general as irresponsible Capt. Joes who got their wings in 1970.

I hardly consider a 4 minute buffer to be irresponsible or 'for Grandma'.

With all that said, we are reminded of responsible fuel usage at my carrier but are not pressured to make foolish decisions. I have little doubt that the dispatcher will approve more fuel if I need it. And as far as diverting goes, I fly my flight. If I reach a minimum fuel (as calculated on my release) I divert. Black and white.

I have diverted about 7 times as captain. I have never heard a word from my company as each diversion was in the interests of safety and as much as I can pick on my employer, I have never ever been asked to do something I thought was unsafe or not do something I did think was safe.

I don't know who this 'Management/Consultant' is but he doesn't sound real informed as to what goes on in the real world. Every airline I know has a fuel policy. If that policy is being violated it should be dealt with internally.
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dxing
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:47 pm

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 36):
My airline requires consultation with dispatch if the PIC requests fuel greater than on the release and requires a re-release (or revalidation) if the airplane is overfueled by as little as 200 lbs.

We use 200 lbs in 4 minutes at a normal cruise setting on my airplane.

I suspect that all carriers in the US have similar policies.

I would agree with that assesment.

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 36):
With all that said, we are reminded of responsible fuel usage at my carrier but are not pressured to make foolish decisions. I have little doubt that the dispatcher will approve more fuel if I need it. And as far as diverting goes, I fly my flight. If I reach a minimum fuel (as calculated on my release) I divert. Black and white.

Within reason I have never denied a captain extra fuel if he/she asked for it and had a legitimate reason. If I see that waitng until you reach a point where you are going to be forced to divert is going to be an excercise in futility I would suggest going immediately so as to get turned and be ready when the time comes.

Quoting saab2000 (Reply 36):
I have diverted about 7 times as captain. I have never heard a word from my company as each diversion was in the interests of safety

I've had to divert at least 4 in one day and never heard a word about it either as it was obvious that the condition at the airfield in question was not going to improve anytime soon.
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Mastropiero
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:00 am

I have a question: I assume that fuel prices are different even within the same country, much more so between different ones. Considering this, and obviously taking into consideration all possible factors, is there a point where it could become financially profitable to uplift a larger amount of fuel than needed at an airport where fuel price is significantly lower than at the next one? I am aware that a higher payload means more fuel being burned, I was just wondering if, at some point, the benefits outweight the fuel burn penalty. If they do, is this common practice for airlines?

Thank you very much!

[Edited 2011-03-25 02:37:23]
 
Pihero
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:20 am

Quoting Mastropiero (Reply 39):
is there a point where it could become financially profitable to uplift a larger amount of fuel than needed at an airport where fuel price is significantly lower than at the next one?

Yes, there is and rather often on short-to-medium haul. That procedure is called "(fuel) tankering". there is a simple mathematical formula used by aircrews and flight planners which helps define the relationship between the fuel prices on two stations and the point at which tankering is beneficial to the OPS costs.
As you've noted, the longer the trip, the higher the amount of fuel needed to carry a given amount to destination . That equation is proportional to the TOW/LW ratio and you could see that you'd require a really huge difference in fuel prices to tanker over long distances.

Quoting Mastropiero (Reply 39):
is this common practice for airlines?

Yes, it is, and very much so. There is one of these areas where good relationships between pilots and dispatchers are important : Suppose that on my return flight to base, my traffic load allows some extra uplift for tankering, I'd ask dispatch to provide me with the minimum required fuel for the next leg. I'd then compute a fuel load that would leave that amount when I arrive, if possible.
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Mastropiero
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:44 am

Thank you very much!
 
Northwest727
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:52 pm

Quoting Pihero (Reply 40):

I've known fuel tankering is used heavily in business jet operations ("Company X" has a fuel contract with "ABC FBO" for dirt cheap, and Company X has to do a flight out to the highly-expensive west coast of the USA, and is not willing to pay for double their contract fuel). I have seen it been used in regionals. However, what about mainline operations?
 
Pihero
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:19 pm

Quoting Northwest727 (Reply 42):
what about mainline operations?

Benefits are for everyone and what is good for bizjets is good for heavies... Even more so when one realizes that an airline has a lot more data than a single-airplane operation.
The difference is that a big airline negociates fuel contracts with a group of oil companies, and fuel hedging is -very simplistically- based on a contracted value of crude oil barrel ; on that price, each oil company would add the costs of refining, transport and keeping, loss through evaporation, local taxes and local labour costs. All these parameters make the bulk of price-difference between two airports.
What makes things even more interesting is that hedging doesn't cover the totality of the airline fuel volume, so there's quite an amount that could / is bought on market price...
That's the reason why fuel prices are published by the airline everyday for flight planners and aircrews to use as accurately as possible.

Regards
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acidradio
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:39 pm

This has turned from a productive discussion about the art/science of fuel load calculation to an unproductive argument. I just had to delete a ton of posts because they became way too argumentative. Please DEBATE THE TOPIC AND NOT THE PERSON. Thank you!
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RE: Do Airlines "pressure" Crew To Use Less Fuel?

Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:09 pm

Thank you.
Having started the debate I was grateful for the information that followed.
I understand and value different points of view, what a terrible world it would be without them.
 
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