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IX. Fuel problems
The minimum amount of fuel for an IFR flight is prescribed by ICAO. This is called the “Minimum Take-Off Fuel (MTOF)”.
If an alternate aerodrome is required: the MTOF contains enough fuel to reach the destination aerodrome, thence to an alternate aerodrome and thereafter for 45 minutes, plus an additional contingency of 15%.
If no alternate aerodrome is required: the MTOF contains enough fuel to reach the destination aerodrome, thereafter for another 45 minutes, plus an additional contingency of 10%.
Any additional carried fuel is called EXTRA FUEL.
The term “Fuel Problem” indicates that the remaining amount of fuel on an aircraft may not be sufficient for the safe completion of the planned flight.
Minimum diversion fuel:
The fuel on board is exhausted to the legal minimum and the aircraft must divert to the alternate or the pilot applies the ‘commitment to stay procedure’.
The fuel on board is less than the legal minimum, the aircraft requires priority landing.
Low on fuel:
The fuel on board is exhausted so that a grave and imminent danger exists. The aircraft should be given emergency handling.
Fuel problems may be caused by a variety of factors. The headwinds may be stronger than expected. The pilot may need to circumnavigate bad weather areas. Technical deficiencies in the pipe and pump systems can result in fuel leakage. Also, diversion to a more distant alternate aerodrome will consume extra fuel.
Remember that a combination of these factors can impact on fuel levels.
Fuel problems may have multiple side effects, possibly impairing the pilots ability to fly and land the plane safety. Without fuel, one or both engines can be expected to fail, which may in turn result in a forced landing short of the RWY or short of the aerodrome itself.
ATC can expect emergency communications from the pilot. This may be “PAN PAN, minimum fuel” where the ACFT needs priority handling. Alternatively, ATC may receive a “MAYDAY, low on fuel” call, indicating an emergency with imminent danger to the aircraft.
ATC should be aware of communication problems through improper use of phraseology. Actual fuel status shall be verified with the appropriate terms, i.e. “low on fuel”, “minimum fuel” “minimum diversion fuel.”
(This section applies particularly to light aircraft where the pilot may be inexperienced. Commercial pilots will already be familiar with these procedures.)
Assist by informing the pilot about:
The location of the nearest suitable aerodrome.
ATC should also provide details of the aerodrome as soon as possible:
RWY in use
ILS and NAV frequencies
WX information should also be provided:
Remember to assist resolution of the situation by:
· Informing your supervisor
· Keeping the ACFT high to save fuel
· Avoiding ATC-caused GO AROUND
· Checking for the next suitable aerodrome
· Informing landing aerodrome
· Asking if dangerous goods on board
· Asking for number of POB
· Clearing the RWY according to local instructions e.g. ACFT is 20 NM final
· Keeping the safety strip clear
· Checking if the towing equipment is on standby
· Recording last known position and time, in case of a diversionary or forced landing
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