GA Accidents-Fuel

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1 minute ago, Jerry 5TJ said:

Indicators I rarely use in flight (and what I replace it with)

whiskey compass (solid state remote magnetic sensor)

flap indicator (switch positions & viewing wing)

fuel gauges (fuel flow totalizer and air data computer)

volt meter (audible fault voice annunciator)

All these gauges work in my Ovation but they are supplemented or replaced by improved sensors.  

I do not think I need a more accurate compass, higher resolution voltmeter, or more fuel gauge information as none of those would improve safety of flight.  At least not in my airplane.  

Best wishes on your improved fuel sensors and gauges; I've flown too many GA planes with useless fuel gauges, and I'd rather not do so again.  

Agree but one quibble: the JPI 930 displays digital voltage. Mine was showing it was 13.3 @ cruise vs. the desired 13.9. So we tweaked the pot in the VR and got line voltage back up to 13.9 which should improve battery life and help the starter a little. Without the JPI I don't think I'd have noticed the VR needed to be set higher.

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The point is that we have, that includes myself (prior to stumbling down this rabbit hole) have created a culture that 

clings to belief that checking aviation fuel level is only a pre-flight item and then we are surprised that while in flight -

somehow the plans changed.   I did a lot of flight test work, I weighed the aircraft prior to flight - plans changed in flight. 

Let's retest that stall characteristic.  Changes to flight plans are as common as flight plans.  This should not be news. 


Fuel consumed by a fuel totalizer suffers the same planned pre flight starting value.  

So what a totalizer says in flight  is entirely based on your plan and judgements prior to flight.   

The fuel totalizer should just confirm your plan - Why is it such a godsend to pilots?

I wouldn't fly without it  -  Totalizer that is.

The reason is that fuel flow calculations  for pre flight cross country incorporate a lot of unknowns  - will I have to deviate, will I have to climb, will I have to stay lower and fight adverse winds, did I forget and continue to run ROP..........

I am good at math - and  a real flight plan one that takes in every contingency,  every deviation from plan and its effect on fuel is best left to a totalizer I trust. 

A working fuel gauge would tell you the same stuff - HEY - you burned more than your plan.  HEY you are running out of fuel. 


Unlike the majority in the GA community  -

I personally don't think pilots are unconvinced of the importance of the two things they need for powered flight - Airspeed and the Fuel to provide it.  

For one of those items we really have done an acknowledged bad job  - so it isn't astonishing to me at this point why, we still have this problem in aviation. 


The future will hold my answer - If I have successfully changed the paradigm of fuel indication in GA aircraft.  Fuel related crashes will drop. 

So far on the aircraft we have been fitted,  knock on wood,  we are batting 1000.  4 years and running. 



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Good risk management involves both administrative and engineering controls. Fuellevel claims to have a superior engineering control, which I'm sure he does. However, relying on engineering controls alone is not a panacea. That's pretty much what lead to that Air France crash where the copilot held the plane in a stall probably believing the engineering controls would protect him. 

In practice, good administrative controls should be primary with engineering controls in a supporting role. 

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Just now, mooniac15u said:

Good risk management involves both administrative and engineering controls. Fuellevel claims to have a superior engineering control, which I'm sure he does. However, relying on engineering controls alone is not a panacea. That's pretty much what lead to that Air France crash where the copilot held the plane in a stall probably believing the engineering controls would protect him. 

In practice, good administrative controls should be primary with engineering controls in a supporting role. 

Absolutely - I agree completely.   

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I have learned the human brain is capable of running out of fuel in several vintages of autos. Affordability is a driver for uptake of technical solutions...

In the automotive world we have some examples of change though the decades...

   1) 60's VW beetle.  Reserve fuel valve.  The valve was always in the wrong position from the last time the car was run low...

       - Many families only had one car...


   2) 70's. Fuel level, no lights or trip odometers.

       - Women's Lib., Many Moms went to work. Dual income families, two cars in the driveway.


   3) 80’S. Fuel level, and low level sensor, trip odometer.

       - Only 10% of engineering students at my school were women.  Email.


   4) 90’S. Fuel level, low level sensor, FF, distance til empty.

      - Websites


   5) Y2k's. All that plus...Multi Trip odometers, one specific to fueling, Audible warning to go with the big Amber light.  Multiple computers overseeing the details.

      - Internet sharing of details specific to Mooney owners


Some things I learned at MS...

1) CIES has done a nice job of building a better mouse trap.  Digital programmable float based fuel level sensors.  Accurate from full to empty.

2) The sales technique seems to have gone astray. A bit on the heavy side for some MS readers.

3) adding the FL sensors to a digital display Like a JPI 930 is required to get the full value of the investment.  Accurately inform the pilot how many gallons of fuel are in the tanks.

4) budget is a major factor to owner upgrades.

5) STCs and availability of the CIES system for all the different Mooneys is not complete.


What I'm looking for...

1) digital programmable floats that accurately send fuel level information...

2) connected to my existing analog displays (8 rough points of data 0, 1/8 tank... to full)

3) connected to my digital engine monitor (JPI930 one day)

4) connected to my GPS.  Calculated fuel to distance

5) integrated with my FF sensor and remote digital displays...

6) discussion on how a leaky fuel sump or fuel pump seal would have ruined my day, but didn't because I didn't have to rely on on FF.  I had a back-up that was accurate enough to know what was happening.... Fuel totalizer is not matching FLs....


In the end...

1) We have the MKI cognitive computer.  ( technology and procedures improve the function of the brain)

2) limits to our flying budget.

3) FAA hurdles to our suppliers equipment.

4) Limits to our supplier's sales approach.  

      - Make me want to get these things.

      - Don't make me feel like an expensive AD is coming.

5) You are a well known individual.  Share your name and company details in every post.

Best regards,



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Bad, (what did you call me?) "ju ju Marauder" here.

First, I hope for your company's sake you are your company's nerdy engineering guy who tries to sell through technical specs or fear & intimidation. Take it from a former regional sales manager for a Fortune 500 company, if you are THE sales manager, I can direct you to a few sales courses that may help smooth over your rather abrasive "sales technique". Rule #1 in sales, "The customer is always right (even when they are wrong)". If you go back to Bob's previous threads, I was one of your potential customers. Not so much anymore.

As everyone here knows I am one of those guys who spent a fair amount building redundancy in my plane for safety purposes. I think the point people were consistently trying to make is that no matter how much safety you push there will still be fuel related accidents. And from my experience, the three people I knew who ran out of fuel, having an accurate fuel gauge wouldn't have helped. Why? Because two were arrogant know it alls and the third was an idiot.

Mr. Arrogant Case Study -- an aerobatic pilot who owned a Skybolt took off for his second aerobatic flight of the day. His first flight was 30 minutes in duration, his second lasted 15 minutes. His total fuel onboard? 45 minutes. He blamed it on an engine issue. I guess he was right, the engine quit. Since it was never reported to the FAA, it just became part of the folklore of the airport.

Mr. Idiot Case Study -- a CFI, yes a CFI decided to fly to Pittsburgh in his personal plane. I will let you read the NTSB report. Do you think an accurate fuel gauge would have helped a pilot pass up 16 airports before he ran out of fuel? I don't. (BTW -- this guy never made it to the airlines).

I will catch up with you at Oshkosh.


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I skimmed over this thread, so I apologize if I'm repeating someone.  The only reason to run out of fuel is if the plane is losing it i.e. leaks or if every fuel stop along the route suddenly runs out of gas.  I don't know if there are parts of the US where it takes a few hours flight to get fuel, so maybe those areas are excused, too.

Everyone should know how much fuel their plane holds and a rough idea of how long they should be able to fly.  You don't need fuel flow meters if you use common sense.

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Why I want accurate fuel gauges:

1.  If I rely on my totalizer to tell me how much fuel I have on board, what can go wrong?

   a.  I can have a fuel leak prior to the transducer that will not be recorded.

   b.  The transducer can malfunction (all things fail eventually)

   c.  It tells me how much fuel I have, but not where.  If I screw up and forget to switch tanks as planned, either I have to be good at math or I'm in the dark.

   d.  I could tell it the wrong fuel level after engine start (already done that once).  I told it to add XX gallons but did not confirm the reading until airborne.  Ooops.

2.  If I rely on timing because I don't have a totalizer, what could possibly go wrong?

   a.  Fuel leak.

   b.  Get distracted and forget to lean the engine so I'm burning 13 GPH instead of my planned 9 GPH.  A bit over two hours of flight later I've used up all my reserve.  Or less sinister, I plan on 9 GPH but only lean to 10 GPH.

   c.  I calculated wrong (damn that new math!)

   d.  I always have XX amount of flying time, except today I have less fuel than normal because I'm carrying 4 people.  If you always fill the tanks, you either don't have any friends that are typical Americans or you really enjoy having a fast 2-3 seat airplane.

Here is what I would like to be able to do:

  • Plan conservatively.  Plan on 9 GPH at 150 KTAS.  Plan on 16 GPH in the climb.  Plan on no fuel savings in the descent.
  • Plan to land with at least 10 gallons on board
  • Compare my fuel totalizer to my fuel gauges.  If they show a significant difference, land and figure out why.

I can't do the last one unless my gauges are accurate.

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There you go  - actually I was encouraged to jump in to this one.  

It is bad form to sell on a forum - that is the usual rule 

so I didn't - in fact I have proof I did the opposite. 

Inform you of my opinion - yes perfectly legit. 

Sales - yes  Probably need to get that MBA in marketing I strategically avoided.   

STC is in process - filed and I convinced them that AML was the best method. 

The unfortunate part - just like the Dynon piece - the aircraft that need it - Cessna 172 and Piper PA-28 

That is the place where a real and substantial change could be made - but a 20,000 dollar aircraft with $10,000 of installed mods is still a $22,000 aircraft.

The economics are still crippling - even with the new lower barrier to entry. 

I used a stick on a 1954 MGTD.  And I ran out of fuel. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 9.33.04 AM.png

Edited by fuellevel

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All the new high end aircraft builders are doing this.... (Most of us are not high end aircraft builders)

Why does the sale's pitch come off like...

1) This device will keep you from running out of fuel.  (By itself, it doesn't)

2) only an idiot wouldn't buy this. Follow my ill used dot plot, you will all agree...

3) The guy that is pro-safety device and often recommending parachutes endlessly is off-put by the presentation.


Can I suggest working with us and not so much in an adversarial way?  I am pretty sure we know that running out of fuel can be deadly.  Harping on this uncomfortable point is making it difficult to continue the discussion.

In the end a Mooney pilot has to know what the device can do to help his situation and how much that is going to cost to install in his plane.

Coming off in an aggressive fashion, has one Mooney pilot (technical guy, known for spending AMUs on his IFR panel) telling you that he doesn't like your approach.

Best regard,


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8 hours ago, fuellevel said:

Really - let's dismiss what I have to say because I sell fuel senders to aircraft OEM's and anybody who is polite enough to ask.

I built designed and sold you SpeedBrakes,   And that was OK - but now Fuel senders - I have really stepped over the line.

That is one step too far. Mr. Fuellevel  -  back off 

I haven't changed - I thought of Speedbrakes as a very nice item on Mooney aircraft - actually inseparable now.

And all of you accepted that Speedbrakes were COOL --------  eventually.  

Uncomfortable - that is what I want you to feel now.  

Uncomfortable accepting bad fuel indication as an honor badge of learning to fly.

But - if and only if you are flying around with corroded and non functional fuel senders. 

and then you bought a lot of other expensive stuff to make up for it.   

I do understand - fuel quantity in aviation was bad but to kick it to the corner was worse 

Not expecting better and expecting fuel starvation salvation in the next gadget  - 

Airplanes get so much better when we add more stuff to them to cover up for non functional equipment 

If you were correct - the FAA would have made fuel totalizers the de facto fuel gauge and called it a day 

They didn't 


One or two or three of you will be sending us fuel senders in the future and asking for help

and that is what we will do.   We will help you out and assist you in getting quality fuel level indication in your aircraft

I have been in aviation my entire life - it is a community 

Yes what I am saying is controversial - YEP I really understand that.  I hear that everyday. 

If I would only accept that only bad pilots ran out of fuel - life would be so easy

Dismissing somebody who has been an integral part of the Mooney community for 30 years  - bad juju Marauder 


Then you failed miserably.  (You did not and have not made me feel uncomfortable in any way/shape or form).  I really dis-like your sales technique.

Nobody wouldn't buy anything from somebody...when nobody doesn't know who that somebody is.  Your example of "peeking" in the fuel tanks and not properly observing level is funny to me.  Just a B.S. Statement for vintage Mooney pilots.  We are CB's.  We generally fill our own tanks.  We are smart pilots so we not only visually inspect (to confirm if we were not on the pump) that there is 100LL NOT Jet A in our tanks and that they are indeed so full that when the cap is removed fuel comes out...OTHERWISE we get our .25 cent paint stick and sump them.  (We have confirmed that our measurements on our stick are spot on for quantity).  We sump the tanks again confirming that there is blue fuel NOT water or other impediments in tank.

We have a fuel flow totalizer.  We have a check-list that states reset this.  I have two totalizers.  A G3 and a FPL.  I have a clock to tell me to switch the tanks on the hour.  It has a counter.  I note the time of departure confirming clock is right.  I have a second digital clock on the panel.  I have a third clock on my wrist.  I have a fourth clock on my I-pad.  I have a switch tanks on my 696 message.

I had my tanks sealed and senders confirmed functional by Paul Beck at Weep-No-More in Wilmer Minnesota.  I had him replace the sump drains at time of re-seal.

I depart primarily with full tanks.  I don't push my legs.


P.S. My fuel quantity indicators in my 50 year old vintage Mooney function as designed.  I NEVER look at them accept by accident...BECAUSE I DO NOT TRUST THEM.  I trust all the above.  I don't trust you.  I would not care to do business with you.  Good day sir.

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  Accidents or no accidents accuracy would be nice.

  Doubt the requirements to visually inspect the tanks will be removed from the POH just because I buy "accurate" fuel senders / gauges. (M20K checklist now asks me to check quantity on the fuel gauges, they must trust them to some level)

  Doubt the NTSB will change the wording in the accident report because I installed "accurate" fuel senders / gauges.

  Doubt the seller of these 'accurate" fuel senders / gauges will leave a disclaimer out of their documentation or maybe they will add an entry that they take full responsibility for any fuel exhaustion scenarios.


 Still rests on the pilots (my) shoulders, I'll take on that responsibility!

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'It is bad form to sell on a forum - that is the usual rule' - CIES


Selling on a forum has a place.  MooneySpace allows it in the section for selling things.


MooneySpace is not 'usual' when it comes to comparisons to other groups.


Product Support by our suppliers is always welcomed.


By the way this conversation is going, we are neither selling or supporting, that I can tell...

Consider changes to your approach.

Best regards,


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Back in the 50s the Volkswagen beetle had no fuel gauge but a reserve tank. You switch to the reserve after the engine quit. Maybe that is what we need now to avoid running out of gas.



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Yes I would love to help - as some of you are aware.   

OEM is primary and we have a new and substantial and all consuming Master Purchase Agreement.

So I am not completely hopeless, sales wise. 

We sell to OEM's - which is an entirely different animal than pilots. 

We will do  individual sales if you ask,  because I still love aviation.  ( I am the soup nazi of fuel senders apparently) 

We have radically changed internal software from a strict OEM purpose.  

By taking in input from the FAA and aircraft owners on what they would like.  

The FAA asked for a low fuel level warning output - and we converted the Cirrus Jet fuel temp output to low fuel source or sink - low fuel annunciation for everyman

Owners of larger tank aircraft asked for user programmable slosh damping - we have a 0 to 16 second averaging slosh damp 

(We could filter but don't get me started)  

We can tailor the sender to any tank shape configuration and provide an analog output. 

I want to help the early Mooney aircraft - but Mooney placed a vent? tube in the way.  

Weep No More helped us and gave us access to an opened tank to measure.  

Yes I will be at OSH this year - In the Big Ass Solutions Building -  and presenting on what I shared 

Fuel issues are more complex than just pilot mistakes  and we need to,  as was stated before -

It would be good to put a thoughtful and considered administrative and engineering solution to the problem. 



On sophisticated aircraft, the ones that don't suffer fuel starvation from one of my earlier posts - you can't visually check the tanks.  You need to rely on other methods.  Quality and expensive fuel indication is mandatory. 

Drip sticks are common in Part 25 transport - they are universally despised because a lot of them will drain a quart of Jet A down your arm.   My point is that Oxygen is required (for flights above 13,000 ft - and we rely on a pressure gauge because we cant't look inside the tank and with the tank installed the tank is difficult to weigh.   In this regard we have to rely on a gauge for a flight critical system.  In hindsight we should have demanded the same for fuel in GA, but that is the past.     The Cirrus POH has changed,  I can reprint any section you care to see. 

Edited by fuellevel
Added Quality and expensive

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It's such an inconvenience having to stop for fuel on a trip.

I'd much rather have accurate gauges and a KC-135 Stratotanker on standby for my longer flights.


My fuel stop.jpg

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The problem with saying "its the pilots fault, he was an idiot" is the conversation stops right there.  The guys who ran out of gas got the same training we all did.  They all has CFIs yelling at them saying "don't run out of gas!"  Nothing changes.  Nothing gets better, and folks still run out of gas. 

I am now thinking about my own experience.  I had one airplane who's gauges worked correctly, mostly because they were brand new.  Other than that I've never seen the airplane with accurate fuel indications.  My Mooney gauges suck, they are entirely unreliable.  Now, why haven't I committed myself to fixing them?  Part of the aviation culture in which I've been reared has emphasized that we need to do calculations and planning to make certain we have fuel, and not rely on gauges.  But the less muscular part of my mind reminds we that a pilot who has good fuel gauges that accurately reflect the amount of fuel on board is far less likely to run out of gas even in the event of a fuel leak or other adverse event.


So here's a good question for the hive mind.  Is it possible to fix the fuel gauges in my aircraft?  I have 20 year old fuel bladders, by the way.  If possible, what is the likely cost of such a repair?  How long would the gauges stay accurate, assuming they ever were?

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Well I have a current open STC project  - Should I add the plumbing.   ;-)

With a accurate fuel indication you'll know when to schedule the hookup.  



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Thank goodness steingar.   Put in a much more elegant and well worded post.  

Yes -  the fuel gauges can be fixed.  What was delivered can be re-made 

The issue is that aircraft in particular and aircraft with bladders specifically suffer from moisture laden corrosion.

As the aircraft descends - moist air is introduced to the tank and the only cold metallic item is the fuel sender 

it draws moisture to it and accelerates corrosion, with corrosion products evident, the friction of the system increases and promotes wear and erratic response.  

Pilots that are meticulous about refilling after flight suffer this issue less and bladders appear to last longer from anecdotal responses.

Beech recognized this and moved all the senders to a point mid tank - this also helped with bladders being sucked up.

So McFarlane and Airports of Lockhaven - rebuild senders from your cores  - I believe the charge is $250 per sender

I would at the same time have your gauge rebuilt.  - Also in the $250 range 


So what Mooney decided to do was eliminate the wiper and resistance grid in 1998, 1999 and they first turned to hall effect.

For Speedbrake positioning - I did as well.  Problem was that these sensors changed position sensing with temperature and the  loss of magnetic field in cold temps.  It was non contact and the sender electronics were isolated from the fuel volume.

So Mooney and International Avionics worked together to use a newly introduced technology Anisotropic Magneto Resistive  AMR

This worked astoundingly well  - no temperature change - no hysteresis  - and they got a patent on it. 

AMR is now responsible for automotive drive by wire and stability control systems - Throttle, Steer, Brake  - Camshaft positioning.

Very robust and long lived solid state device - in fact the same technology that replaced the whiskey compass 

So now we have a non contact sensor that points to the float - like a magnet points to north.   These are very accurate very precise

What is even more beneficial is that they don't require tight tolerance for manufacture as the magnetic field is the only item measured 

So yes with 15,000 sender and no unscheduled removals this system stays fresh  - or has for the last 4 years 

Retrofit - we charge $390 per sensor and we can output to a rebuilt analog gauge (Caveat) or to a modern engine management system or an Aerospace Logic digital gauge.  The sensor is powered - so a wire needs to be added  

The Gauge is $900  ands we don't sell them 

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14 hours ago, fuellevel said:

we are working with both the FAA Small Aircraft Directorate and Seattle ACO to get an AML STC for our TSO fuel sender solution 

Did you not have Paul Beck with Weep no More do some work for you on this?

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Scott P.,

One of the selling points for a new float system for Mooney installations....

1) the existing technology is mounted in a temporary way.

2) the temporary method uses a few screws and a cork or rubber seal.

3) degradation of the seal occurs over time leaking fuel towards and into the cabin.

Does your system come with a better installation than this semi-temporary installation?

I would prefer to see an install that is expected to last as long as the sealant does, 20+ years.  Install it once, sealed so it doesn't leak, ever...

Best regards,




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How many of you have run a tank dry, and then filled it full to check that it actually holds what is placarded?  Did your low fuel light come on?  And what if you got the cap on crooked, and your fuel got sucked out? 



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Carusoam - well there are several methods of addressing this, but I really need to get a picture of one to see what we are talking about 

The housing could be permanently mounted and the circuit card added,   Lots of methods for addressing this.

But we have one installed and flying on Friday   I will see what it took 





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5 minutes ago, fuellevel said:

I have talked with Paul  Weep no More  but not recently - we are very adept at getting STC's  

Ok, for some reason I thought he actually did some work for you guys on this, not just talked about it.

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