I know this sounds like a radical idea to save the airline's money and perhaps make them profitable again, but I would love to hear the A.net community's opinion (especially those of pilots) of this idea, and if it is as feasible as I believe it to be.
Currently, the FARs state that every 121 flight needs to have 45 minutes of reserve fuel. This is for any crazy situation that could not be reasonably forecasted that could affect a flight, i.e. a freak airport closure. In my year and a half of dispatching, I have never come across any situation like that, nor has most of my fellow dispatchers. The closest thing I can think of where a flight needed the 45 minutes of reserve for another airport that was completely unforeseeable was another dispatcher's flight from PHX
. A mx issue came up in flight near SBP
that caused the aircraft to require more distance for landing, and SBP
had too short of a runway with the given aircraft weight, and the flight ended up diverting to FAT
. But that was only one occurrence that I'm aware of where an unforeseeable airport issue came up which required a diversion cutting into the 45 mins of fuel.
But for these extremely rare occasions, I can't find an airport on the map that doesn't have some kind of suitable airport within 30 minutes of it. Even if an airport is not in an airline's ops specs, it could be usable in an extreme, sh*t happens type of scenario (which I believe, when sh*t does happen, any place with 2 miles of straight pavement is a good place to land in my book).
Therefore, I propose that the FARs should be amended so that a flight only needs to carry 30 minutes of reserve fuel. There are two huge cost savings that could go with this amendment. First, the cost of carry would be significantly reduced, this could easily be millions in a year for large airlines. Second, it would reduce weight restrictions during inclement weather (this is where the 45 is even more ridiculous since a flight will have alt fuel, probably hold fuel too), which means an airline will have to spend less on voluntary and involuntary bumping compensation, which could also mean a huge cost savings to the airline at the end of the year.
I'm sure this idea may make some pilots a little queasy, and I know there are some out there that think dispatchers don't put enough fuel on as it is. But if you run the numbers and try to use your head more than your heart, I really think this would be a good idea to help airlines save money and make them profitable again. Any competent dispatcher combined with a competent pilot will be able to forecast just about everything that is reasonably foreseeable, and would ensure that the flight has enough fuel for such events. The rewards would significantly outweigh the slight increase in risk that would be involved.
I welcome everyone's thoughts and opinions on this idea.
"I always keep a bottle of whiskey handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy!" - W.C. Fields