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DukeofDashes
Topic Author
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:07 am

Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 8:10 am

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-SBP. 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
 
flexo
Posts: 345
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:55 pm

RE: Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:01 am

Well, the 45 minute rule was obviously implemented for safety reasons. To amend it would of course not be unthinkable but should be well thought out. I would like to see statistics first how many flights actually needed to use it in the past 10 years.
45 minutes seem arbitrary just like 30 or 60 minutes of fuel so I would also like to know how they came up with the 45 to begin with.

However, to think airlines would suddenly start to be profitable again when they can carry less fuel is a little naive. They are losing money right now because they are in a very competetive market which is also in a decline. On top of that they have bad management that tends to react either too slow or too rash.

Even with less fuel, all airlines would have the same advantage and strong competition would just mean that ticket prices would fall and you'd have the same situation as before with the difference that flights would be just a wee bit less safe.
 
AirWillie6475
Posts: 2372
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:45 pm

RE: Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:33 am

The problem with your idea is that you want it to be universal, in the FARs. I understand you reasoning though, why does an aircraft need 45 mins of reserve for all flights even if you're flying in VFR Hawaii? Short answer is safety and in fact that 45 min in some cases is cutting it close. I've had many min fuel calls around ORD and other busy IFR airports. It's gotten to the point where if you have to hold more than 15 min you're going to have to divert. It's not going to happen.
 
zappbrannigan
Posts: 231
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 7:41 am

RE: Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:20 pm

Funny you should mention this. Here in Australia, the recommended fixed reserve for turbine aircraft is 30 minutes (45 minutes for piston aircraft) and has been since I've been flying. I can't conclusively say that company policy at all major Australian airlines is 30 mins fixed reserve, but I understand this to be the case.

You'd think we'd be the ones with the larger reserve requirement, considering the vast expanses of nothing in this country, which I'm sure you're somewhat aware of. So I don't think pilots would get "queasy" at the suggestion - if they did, it would probably be due to unfamiliarity and a perceived drop in safety.

30 minutes seems a more logical minimum - but I've never met a pilot who made a name for himself by carrying too much fuel.
 
DukeofDashes
Topic Author
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:07 am

RE: Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:51 pm



Quoting Flexo (Reply 1):
45 minutes seem arbitrary just like 30 or 60 minutes of fuel so I would also like to know how they came up with the 45 to begin with.

FARs have been around since, what, the 1930s I believe. Back then, airports where a little more sparse and there probably were places where you had to fly 45 minutes to find a suitable place to land. But more airports have been built since then, and I think a pilot can find a good place to land with 30 minutes of fuel in those rare situations nowadays.
"I always keep a bottle of whiskey handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy!" - W.C. Fields
 
AAR90
Posts: 3140
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2000 11:51 am

RE: Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 5:52 pm

Recall that the 45 minutes of Reserve Fuel is calculated based upon the last cruising altitude fuel consumption. For my flight arriving DFW last night that was 2900 lbs of fuel [very light acft at FL410 flying very slow --120 knot tailwind]. That is something like 10 minutes of fuel if we had to go-around. The dispatcher wisely added 1500 lbs "Holding Fuel" .... just in case.
*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
 
User avatar
CrimsonNL
Posts: 2196
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 6:34 pm

RE: Radical Idea To Save Money

Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:56 pm



Quoting DukeofDashes (Thread starter):
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-SBP

Well, as you say yourself it is rare, but it DOES happen, IMO you shouldn't save on critical elements for performing your flight, i.e. Maintenance, Fuel etc etc.

My two cents.
Always comparing your flown types list with mine

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