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Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:36 pm

Foreword

Winter 2010, Rome FCO

I’m on board the flight DL241 from FCO to ATL. The flight is almost full and while taxiing to the runway 16R for the take-off, the captain announces that we have to stay on the taxiway for 7-8 minutes, burning fuel with the engines running at high speed because our weight is exceeding the MTOW.

It was the first time in my passenger's life (with > 250 flights) I have experienced something like that: 7-8 minutes with the engines screaming and the aircraft shaking like a leaf in the wind….


Recent days

I’m in a party in Rome and I meet a guy working as ATC at FCO.

Speaking about our common passion for the airline industry and everything linked to that, we touch the episode related to Delta and he says: “oh, it’s quite common with DL at FCO; the first time they caused some trouble to the other aircraft awaiting for their take off but now we know them and we assign them a specific path on the taxiway, so that they can stop and burn fuel without impact for both the ATC and the other outbound traffic”.

Now my question is: every airline here in Europe is paying a lot of attention in saving fuel (for instance AZ declared a saving of 12M€ in 2012), implementing near real time processes to know exactly how much fuel they have to board and optimizing the reserves. How can be possible that DL sometimes has the need to burn fuel to lower the weight from MRW to MTOW? What’s wrong with their W&B and re-fuelling processes?

The funny thing is that apparently (this is the ATC guy version) DL is the only carrier having this behavior at FCO

Anyone here has an idea about that?

Thanks in advance for your comments!
 
rendezvous
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:55 pm

It's possible that they allow taxi fuel for a worst case scenario, for example, a queue for takeoff, or a runway that's a long way from the terminal. This may mean if they get a shorter taxi than expected, or no delay, they have to wait for the aircraft to be below max takeoff weight. I've seen this happen in Sydney with Qantas 747s a couple of times.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:11 pm

Sounds like they need a certain level of fuel for the trip and that fuel load gets them to MTOW. And, as rendevous noted in Reply #2, they are factoring in sufficient overage to ensure that they have that fuel load (are at MTOW) when they depart.
 
musapapaya
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:17 pm

It is understable for your flight as it would have been very close to MTOW for that distance of FCO-ATL, I did experience something exactly the same with AA back in 2004 from LHR-JFK where they stood and burnt fuel for some 20-30 minutes due to the heavy weight. Now, LHR-JFK is a lot shorter so how much cargo/passenger they had I cant tell you....
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spacecadet
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:30 am

I posted about this just the other day - same thing on my trip back to JFK from SXM. Our captain made no announcement, leaving me to wonder what the heck was going on.
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Max Q
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:51 am

It happens, as carefully as you plan sometimes you can end up being overweight and even though you would probably have more than enough performance to depart (and lose an engine) on todays modern twins if you do it's very possible the Aircraft will 'tell on you'


Whether that happens or it becomes known you departed overweight the Pilots will not be in a good situation.
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
 
B777LRF
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:58 am

Was on a flight recently where our onboard engineer overfuelled the aircraft by around 5 tons. The airport we were at had had no facilities for de-fueling. Well, they had, but it had to be ordered 24 hours in advance (Southern European logic, I suppose). Our limit was neither MTOW or RTOW but rather MALTOW driven by MLW - we would be 5 tons too heavy when landing at destination. Brain cells were exercised, and a plan agreed on. Since we're operating in the middle of the night, standing the engines up at 0'dark hundred on the runway for a prolonged period would not be very neighborly, so instead we took off and spent the first 15 minutes at 3000ft, flaps 5 and gear down. Then we climbed to FL270 for the 4 hour flight, nearly 10K below optimum height.

Once we got up there, Murphy reared his head and presented us with a 80kt tail-wind - just the thing we didn't need. Solution was to pop the speed brakes, which we did for almost 45 minutes.

We landed at destination being 300kg below MLW. Job jobbed, but it does feel idiotic throwing away 5 tons of fuel like that - it's hardly the cheapest commodity around!

[Edited 2013-02-19 00:03:41]
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DarkSnowyNight
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:07 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 6):


Was on a flight recently where our onboard engineer overfuelled the aircraft by around 5 tons.

Holy Shit. That's not a trivial overshoot. Was there fuel in a tank whose gauge was inop or not selected or something?
Be A Perfectionst, You're Nothing If You're Just Another; Something Material, This Isn't Personal...
 
B777LRF
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:42 am

Quoting Darksnowynight (Reply 7):
Holy Shit. That's not a trivial overshoot. Was there fuel in a tank whose gauge was inop or not selected or something?

Nope, he just stuffed it. Was asked to put 27 tons in the tanks, but misunderstood that and put 27 tons on top of the 6 we had onboard already.
From receips and radials over straight pipes to big fans - been there, done that, got the hearing defects to prove
 
sdf880
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:59 pm

There are a lot of variables that can cause this. The temperature went up over planned, the altimeter dropped below standard (it is a penalty), the fueler overfueled the a/c (not uncommon). I have seen headwind factored in for better performance numbers and at departure the wind diminished, 5 knots might give you another 1000 pounds or so. Even runway slope can help or hurt the numbers. It is possible the problem was on the other end. Perhaps the destination airport weather conditions changed and the runways became wet or had clutter (snow/ice) and this put the a/c over landing weight for the condition. Many variables always in play!

SDF880
 
musapapaya
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:09 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 8):
Nope, he just stuffed it. Was asked to put 27 tons in the tanks, but misunderstood that and put 27 tons on top of the 6 we had onboard already.

Where did this happen, if you dont mind telling? Who will need to pay for those extra fuel that needs to be wasted? I hope its not the airline but I doubt it, 5 extra tons is a LOT of money!
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fuelfool
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Tue Feb 19, 2013 7:23 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 6):
The airport we were at had had no facilities for de-fueling. Well, they had, but it had to be ordered 24 hours in advance (Southern European logic, I suppose).

If they don't, or can't, leave a truck down, it makes perfect sense to need notice. Once that fuel comes out, it can only go back in that airline's aircraft. Potentially lots of logistics involved simply because of an over-fuel.
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Max Q
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Wed Feb 20, 2013 7:01 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 6):


Was on a flight recently where our onboard engineer overfuelled the aircraft by around 5 tons. The airport we were at had had no facilities for de-fueling. Well, they had, but it had to be ordered 24 hours in advance (Southern European logic, I suppose). Our limit was neither MTOW or RTOW but rather MALTOW driven by MLW - we would be 5 tons too heavy when landing at destination. Brain cells were exercised, and a plan agreed on. Since we're operating in the middle of the night, standing the engines up at 0'dark hundred on the runway for a prolonged period would not be very neighborly, so instead we took off and spent the first 15 minutes at 3000ft, flaps 5 and gear down. Then we climbed to FL270 for the 4 hour flight, nearly 10K below optimum height.

Once we got up there, Murphy reared his head and presented us with a 80kt tail-wind - just the thing we didn't need. Solution was to pop the speed brakes, which we did for almost 45 minutes.

We landed at destination being 300kg below MLW. Job jobbed, but it does feel idiotic throwing away 5 tons of fuel like that - it's hardly the cheapest commodity around!

I've had this situation over the years and we found a way to burn up the fuel, on one occasion though we could have really used it due to an extended hold at destination.


Moral of the story was to not burn off or even dump the extra until you are really sure you don't need it !
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
 
B777LRF
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Wed Feb 20, 2013 8:25 am

Quoting musapapaya (Reply 10):
Where did this happen, if you dont mind telling? Who will need to pay for those extra fuel that needs to be wasted? I hope its not the airline but I doubt it, 5 extra tons is a LOT of money!

Happened on an island in the Mediterranean. Since the fuel was ordered by a person directly employed by the airline (the mechanic), not much hope of avoiding paying for all the fuel that went into the aircraft.

Quoting fuelfool (Reply 11):
If they don't, or can't, leave a truck down, it makes perfect sense to need notice. Once that fuel comes out, it can only go back in that airline's aircraft. Potentially lots of logistics involved simply because of an over-fuel.

Does it now? Hope you appreciate that nobody will device a plan that involves de-fueling an aircraft. Thus, when it happens it will be the result of some sort of mishap, and those are impossible to predict. Any competently driven airport should have the appropriate facilities to de-fuel an aircraft as and when the need occurs, and not some 24 hours into the future.

Fuel that has been taken off an aircraft cannot be used again, not even for another aircraft from the same airline. At least, those are the rules we are adhering to in this part of the world.
From receips and radials over straight pipes to big fans - been there, done that, got the hearing defects to prove
 
9VSIO
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:21 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 13):
Fuel that has been taken off an aircraft cannot be used again, not even for another aircraft from the same airline. At least, those are the rules we are adhering to in this part of the world.

Just curious, could it be kept aside and then put back into the same aircraft at a later stage?
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fuelfool
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:25 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 13):
Fuel that has been taken off an aircraft cannot be used again, not even for another aircraft from the same airline. At least, those are the rules we are adhering to in this part of the world.

The US domestic airlines I have been involved with didn't dump fuel as waste after a defuel. It just had to go back into their planes. I have pulled thousands of gallons of fuel out planes, and none of its been dumped.
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Mir
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Wed Feb 20, 2013 9:12 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 8):
Nope, he just stuffed it. Was asked to put 27 tons in the tanks, but misunderstood that and put 27 tons on top of the 6 we had onboard already.

Seems like it's a communication issue more than an error on the part of one party. It should be evident that "put 27 tons in the tanks" can be easily interpreted as a request to do exactly that.

-Mir
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DarkSnowyNight
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:19 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 13):
Fuel that has been taken off an aircraft cannot be used again, not even for another aircraft from the same airline. At least, those are the rules we are adhering to in this part of the world.

In the US, you can re-use, but it has to be the same airline. And literally the same airline. SkyWest DBA Delta Connection cannot re-use fuel defueled from Pinnacle or Shuttle America, also DBA Delta Connection.

Quoting Mir (Reply 16):
Seems like it's a communication issue more than an error on the part of one party. It should be evident that "put 27 tons in the tanks" can be easily interpreted as a request to do exactly that.

-Mir

Yup. That's why when doing it verbally, I always like to say "set the totalizer to..."
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Mir
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RE: Strange Way DL Burns Fuel To Reach The Mtow

Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:12 pm

Quoting Darksnowynight (Reply 17):
That's why when doing it verbally, I always like to say "set the totalizer to..."

I'll say something like "fuel to a total of 3600lbs". But I'm normally just asking for a number of gallons, so I'm the one doing the math for how much we actually need to load and then telling the fuelers how much to put in the tanks.

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day

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