Running out of fuel

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Ryanb, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    How does it happen? Seems like I’ve been reading again and again how pilots have been running out of fuel, which is the leading cause of the accident. So which demographic is most likely to run out? Seems unlikely that a jet runs out, although I realize that their fuel systems are much more complex than those in our light-singles.
     
  2. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Line Up and Wait

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    True "running out of fuel" is pure pilot error, and highly preventable. I've never run out of fuel, ever; not in my truck, my car, my airplane, my motorcycle. I wonder if the same kind of person who runs out on the ground runs out in the air?
     
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  3. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It would be interesting to know.
     
  4. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Lots of different reasons. As pointed out nearly all pilot error. Sometimes, it's failure to understand just where the fuel is on board and not directing it to the engine(s).
    In other cases, the range was pushed to far due to conditions, or the plane wasn't fueled with as much fuel as the pilot thought (happened to that 767 up in Canada).
     
  5. Unit74

    Unit74 En-Route

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    I know of one idiot who “doesn’t tanker fuel” ....... then augers his King Air just short of Springdale AR a few years ago. Landed in Camden AR and took a splash of gas and left. Killed himself and his girlfriend.


    You can’t fix stupid.......
     
  6. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Stretching the limits. Thinking you can go a few extra miles.
     
  7. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Sad.
     
  8. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser!

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  9. TheFB

    TheFB Pre-Flight

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    Best solution I’ve heard is always consider flight time as opposed to flight distance. The mentality that, “I flew further on a tank before” or “my range is” without considering head vs tail winds seems elementary but.... It is preventable, period.
     
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  10. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I'm of the belief there are pilots that once they earn their plastic decide that all that stuff they learned to get the plastics no longer applies.
     
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  11. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    In small planes, it seems to be mostly in those with switchable tanks and no "both" setting. How many times have we seen a Cherokee landed on a highway because someone forgot to switch the tank?
     
  12. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait

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    well, a few years back while I was a student a pair of fellows flew in to re-fuel the plane and themselves en route to Oshkosh. we'll call them Tom & Dick. a short time later they took off, got about a mile or two out and crashed in a field north of the field. seems that Tom thought Dick fueled the plane and Dick thought Tom fueled the plane...which, if I recall correctly, was totaled. both T&D survived. also says something about their lack of reserve fuel, doesn't it?
     
  13. vman

    vman Pre-takeoff checklist

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Airlines_Flight_173
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avianca_Flight_52
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
  14. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    Says a lot about Tom and Dick's poor communication skills and lack of preflight inspection
     
  15. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Final Approach

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  16. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips Line Up and Wait

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    Yep. We figured that at four hours VFR we should be on final to a place that has fuel.
     
  17. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    Drink half gallon of water right before the flight and don’t carry a Gatorade bottle in the cabin, you will be looking for an airport long before you run out of fuel.

    That however doesn’t guarantee that you will put fuel in your tank when you empty yours though
     
  18. bflynn

    bflynn En-Route

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    The answer to how it happens is that pilots gradually get accustomed to having enough gas.

    You fly and there is enough. Pilots get lazy and relax, quit monitoring their fuel. They assume a reserve that was never there. Sometimes they outright forget about fuel planning but mostly it comes as a surpsrise.

    The demographics is that it happens to pilots.
     
  19. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Line Up and Wait

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  20. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route

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    Right. It is hours in the tank, not fuel in the tank.

    Bob
     
  21. hawk25u

    hawk25u Pre-Flight

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    Some years ago a new pilot took off on a cross country and as he told me later forgot to lean the mixture. It ran out of gas about an hour earlier than he thought it should but as luck would have it was on top of an airport. Only problem was a Fed was doing ramp checks there that day...
     
  22. RDUPilot

    RDUPilot Pre-takeoff checklist

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    You sure cant... especially when they are deceased... too soon?
     
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  23. Unit74

    Unit74 En-Route

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    In that case, it was a self correcting error in judgement. I’m sure he won’t do it it again.......
     
  24. alfadog

    alfadog En-Route

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    Friend and long-time pilot told me a story of landing a Lear on vapors, one engine flaming out on final. Seems the owner did not want to pay high prices for fuel in the Bahamas.
     
  25. Zeldman

    Zeldman Final Approach

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    I had a tank run dry once. I had only 1:15 on the tank when the engine got quiet. A full tank is 2 hours flying time. The tank was full when I left.

    The fuel cell inside had doubled over on itself making the total fuel a lot less than advertised.

    I was able to switch tanks and get back going again.
     
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  26. Hacker

    Hacker Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I know a lot of highly experienced pilots who have found themselves backed into a corner with fuel in a wide variety of aircraft types.

    It isn't just idiots, and it isn't just negligence or carelessness.
     
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  27. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    I won't regularily fly a plane without a Fuel Flow instrument. Having a precisely calibrated fuel flow gage is cheap and reliable.

    Fantastic situational awareness addition.

    By NO MEANS suggesting fly to the edge of the fuel left in tanks value. Great that it throws a fuel low annunciation at whatever value you set for your personal minimums.

    EI's FP-5L is easy to install and costs around $500. There are other excellent options available.
     
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  28. midwestpa24

    midwestpa24 Line Up and Wait

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    And also why it is important to have one Pilot-In-Command.
     
  29. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Taking for granted that the tanks are full,without pre flighting. Causing one not to switch tanks on time.
     
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  30. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Confession time - About 45 years ago and a new seaplane rating, I flew an Aeronca Sedan 15AC on a short Minnesota cross country. I didn't know it had bladder type tanks and what that meant to the inexperienced. Over the years the fuel caps had been lost in the water and replaced with various vented alternatives. In flight, those Aeronca sight glass fuel gauges were showing lots of fuel on board - and after all what could be more reliable than a sight glass directly into the wing tanks? :cool:

    Those now-vented fuel caps were collapsing the bladders, and then over a couple of minutes the last bit of fuel drained out of the tanks, the fuel sight gauges went to zero, and the engine quit.

    We landed in a swamp 5 miles short of our destination, drifted to shore, and up to the farmer with more than a story to tell ("you got a what?????"). :oops:

    You can never know too much about your fuel system.
     
  31. nrpetersen

    nrpetersen Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A thought - Maybe post briefing dual flight instruction should include the student estimating the fuel required to fill the airplane.
     
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  32. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Line Up and Wait

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    Being part of a club albeit only 5 of us, I find myself being very nervene about fuel. I dipstick every time I fly out of our hangar.

    +1 on thinking about range in terms of hours not miles.
    I’m not a huge fan of putting myself in a position with flight planning w&b that I need to consider taking off with less then full fuel. I don’t fly legs that would leave me with less then 1.5 hours of fuel. It’s a bit overboard but that’s my comfort level right now.
    Plus the tanks on our 182 hold 88gal. I can’t sleep 5 hours without taking a leak, how the hell im I going to fly for that long!!! Let alone my wife. Lol.
     
  33. Tantalum

    Tantalum Pattern Altitude

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    I know, that one stumps me too. We're told never to trust our gauges, dip the tanks, check the fuel, run timers, check L, R, both, etc., and yet you still see people taking off and running out of fuel. I think it comes down often times to privately owned planes, where you have it in your hangar and assume there's "right around tabs" in there..

    But I agree, it's inexcusable and never really made sense to me

    I'm also surprised how different the definition of "top it off" is to various line people... some places the fuel is literally up to the top of the filler neck cap, dribbling out the top.. with fuel dripping out the vent lines... other times it's a solid half inch below the top of the tank.. which, depending on the plane, can be 3-5 gallons, or the difference in that extra 15-20 minutes of flight time. If you're traveling a far distance, and you want it topped off, then I expect it to be actually "topped off"
     
  34. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    I want an hour reserve, even day VFR. Last week I landed for fuel 35 miles short of my destination, because to go on would have cut into that hour -- only by a few minutes, but that's my rule. 'Cuz there can be surprises.

    Years ago my Bonanza's engine started sputtering 20 minutes before it should have, while I was running on the aux tanks. When I landed there was still plenty of fuel in the tank. Turned out an O-ring in the fuel cap was bad, and suction from lower pressure on the top of the wing prevented fuel in that tank from flowing past the checkvalve (and a big hello to you, Dr. Bernoulli!).

    Then there was the time I left the fuel cap off the right tank of my Sport Cub after refueling at McCall, Idaho. In cruise, with the fuel selector on 'both', I noticed that the right tank remained full and the left tank was feeding much more rapidly than normal. Why? As fuel was siphoning out of the right tank, the suction from the missing cap was cross-feeding more fuel through the vent line from the left into the right. After a prompt landing I did the first smart thing all day: I bought two new caps. :oops:

    Here in the toasty desert southwest, fuelers often ask if we want them to leave a little room at the top for expansion. That might be a good idea if the airplane will be parked in the sun for a while, but you never know how much is really in there.
     
  35. Hank S

    Hank S En-Route

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    You do if you stick the tank during (or as) preflight.
     
  36. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I knew a married couple that did that. Both pilots. He was supposed to refuel after flying his leg. She assumed he had. Ran out of fuel in the mountains out west here. Totalled their Dakota. They both survived. Their marriage didn't.
     
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  37. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach

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    I see it a bit differently. If a pilot isn't paying enough attention to ensure they don't run out of fuel, they most probably aren't paying attention to anything else going on with the airplane.
     
  38. woodchucker

    woodchucker Line Up and Wait

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    During my ppl training on one flight we were headed back to KSLC and we heard approach vector a Bonanza with a fuel issue directly under us. Fuel was streaming from a capless fuel tank.

    After seeing that first hand I’ve developed a paranoia about fuel caps. Even to the point of getting unbuckled and climbing out on occasion to double check that I actually had put them in place.
     
  39. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    1. Not properly determining the amount of useable fuel.
    2. Inadequate weather briefing and flight planning (fuel required and reserve)
    3. Improper leaning or power settings.
    4. Improper monitoring of actual enroute time / GS.
    5. Not maintaining a minimum fuel reserve.
     
  40. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude

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    This is why my dad never got a pilot license. When he was younger he ran out of has in a car once or twice a year. He was in his 40s before he stopped doing that.

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