kelty

Still in Denial

193 posts in this topic

Again, really appreciate this topic and the courage to share, there are all too many fuel exhaustion and fuel starvation accidents. I ask the following question out of respect and some ignorance, just to spark some thought perhaps, but I wonder if military aviation may have contributed some possible feeling of complacency.   Isn't someone else fueling the plane for the pilot? Isn't there a premium placed on having just enough fuel for a mission? And going "bingo fuel" more so than in civilian aviation. Many years ago there were two airforce senior officers who rented a small plane and ran out of fuel a few minutes from their destination. This was in New Mexico. Of course fuel accidents happen to everyone, no one is immune from mistakes, and I am not suggesting that military pilots do this more frequently. In fact, they probably make fewer such errors, just wondering if there are other links in the accident chain in this situation. Human factors. We all have them. Some of us, myself included, are overly fearful about fuel and always carry way too much.

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6 minutes ago, Smiles201 said:

Again, really appreciate this topic and the courage to share, there are all too many fuel exhaustion and fuel starvation accidents. I ask the following question out of respect and some ignorance, just to spark some thought perhaps, but I wonder if military aviation may have contributed some possible feeling of complacency.   Isn't someone else fueling the plane for the pilot? Isn't there a premium placed on having just enough fuel for a mission? And going "bingo fuel" more so than in civilian aviation. Many years ago there were two airforce senior officers who rented a small plane and ran out of fuel a few minutes from their destination. This was in New Mexico. Of course fuel accidents happen to everyone, no one is immune from mistakes, and I am not suggesting that military pilots do this more frequently. In fact, they probably make fewer such errors, just wondering if there are other links in the accident chain in this situation. Human factors. We all have them. Some of us, myself included, are more fearful about fuel and always carry way too much.

Explain how you can have too much fuel...

 

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Explain how you can have too much fuel...
 


Overweight and crash into trees at end of runway on takeoff. That's how you can have too much fuel. Easy to overload a plane like mine with 100gallon tanks.


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Also on the long body Mooneys there is a max landing weight which requires you to burn off fuel to land. Also they are pretty sure that leaving a lot of fuel in the tanks helps to prematurely flatten our landing gear doughnuts in the heavy long bodies.


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Thoughts for Miles...

 

What makes a difference is...

 

1) the accuracy of One's fuel gauges... 

 - analog vs digital fuel floats

 - analog vs digital read-outs

 - spare indicators specific to partial filling 

 - all calibrated and working properly

 

2) the ability to build and follow One's own procedures... each has it's own fuel burn rate

 - Start-up and taxi...

 - T/O and climb...

 - Cruise and leaning procedure...

 - Descent and traffic pattern...

 

3) The knowledge of fuel burn rates... and instruments...

 - Fuel flow indicator based on a paddle wheel inline to the engine.

 - Totalizer that keeps track of the fuel put in and all the fuel that has been burned.  Often requires manual update/reset at the start of a flight.

 - Digital fuel floats are capable of noticing a difference between fuel burned and fuel leaked out of the tank.

 

4) knowledge of proper reserves...

 - Legal issue for VFR and IFR flights

 - Realistic issue if flying in the wilderness, dark and crappy weather....

 

5) Know that crap happens...

 - The more you know the plane, the tighter and more accurate One's skills are.

 - There are going to be several links to a bad day.  Recognize them as they start breaking down.

 - crap happens faster after the first tank runs dry. All the Plan Bs have been used up...

 

6) Not having fuel available at the starting point of a trip...

 

7) Complacency...

 - Knowing everything about the plane, have all the equipment to track the fuel level and burn rate, and ignore it all due to being overly comfortable and forgetting, or just being human and something gets buy...

 

8) everyone knows how to accurately plan a flight

 - From basic PPL math.

 - Is there anything more that a Pro Pilot can know that wouldn't get translated down to a new pilot?

 - Is there anything a new pilot does that wouldn't be used when a Pro Pilot flies.

 

9) The thing that surprised me most when I got the opportunity to fly with other pilots... was their use of check lists.  As a young guy, I thought that was the old school way of teaching things and surely an experienced pilot didn't need those things after some time.

- My check lists are on a piece of paper, a copy is on my iPad, and the super critical ones are memorized.  Some people have better memory or technical skills and they turn the instrument panel and controls into a flow system, from left to right and top to bottom...

 

10) I have one advantage that the pro pilots don't have...

 - I fly only one plane. Fewer things to have to keep track of.

 

This is a list I put together over the following day.  

I have deep innate fears of running out of fuel, Not having enough power, Flying VFR into IMC, and running into thunderstorms while IFR in IMC... The usual PP list of stupid pilot tricks.

 

Adding to the discussion, knowing we are all human with ability to make some goofy pre-made mistakes.

Thanks for reading my PP thoughts,

-a-

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1 hour ago, Smiles201 said:

Again, really appreciate this topic and the courage to share, there are all too many fuel exhaustion and fuel starvation accidents. I ask the following question out of respect and some ignorance, just to spark some thought perhaps, but I wonder if military aviation may have contributed some possible feeling of complacency.   Isn't someone else fueling the plane for the pilot? Isn't there a premium placed on having just enough fuel for a mission? And going "bingo fuel" more so than in civilian aviation. Many years ago there were two airforce senior officers who rented a small plane and ran out of fuel a few minutes from their destination. This was in New Mexico. Of course fuel accidents happen to everyone, no one is immune from mistakes, and I am not suggesting that military pilots do this more frequently. In fact, they probably make fewer such errors, just wondering if there are other links in the accident chain in this situation. Human factors. We all have them. Some of us, myself included, are overly fearful about fuel and always carry way too much.

I am a rotor head and not a jet guy so my experiences are probably a little different. 

Yes someone else fuels the aircraft for my first start, and I am sitting in the aircraft for any hot fuel evelotuons. We place a premium on fuel management and our taught to maximize and respect fuel req for mission accomplishment. Sometimes limiting angle of bank to ensure that I don't burn an excessive amount. Running out of fuel over water is just not acceptable. 

I appreciate the OP posting though - I have not yet drained my tanks completely and evaluated my usable fuel for my new to me M20J. I have landed with 7 a side and thought nothing of it. My low fuel levels also don't work (possibly due to bladder install) but this is now on my list of things to evaluate. 

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10 hours ago, DMJones said:

Only qualified to learn.

And this happened yesterday, near my home:

http://www.ajc.com/news/local/update-small-plane-lost-power-before-crash-cobb-airport/aXaxlaEsdkxaHywkdodaYJ/

I'd love to hear what happened, from the pilot.

The CH2000 is my "other" airplane, planning to instruct in it when I retire in a few years. Please post more if you hear anything more on this one.

Cheers,

Rick

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Thanks to the OP for the post. It's has resulted in a good discussion and certainly some things to think about. I am one of those that will occasionally take off from my home field and fly south for 20 miles to purchase fuel at $1 less a gallon. There have been a number of times when I have debated whether I had sufficient fuel to get there plus my one hour reserve. Although I always make sure my 10 gallon reserve is all in one tank I may have overtime grown too comfortable with this minimum fuel state. It is by reading threads like this that lessons are learned and behavior changed. One thing is for sure, you will never catch me being over critical of someone here posting about a mistake. We are all humans and shit happens! If we are brave enough we post it here in the hopes that our fellow airman can learn from it.


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Explain how you can have too much fuel...
 


If you are on fire.

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I also run my tank dry on long cross country flights for the exact same reason.

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On 1/7/2017 at 10:04 PM, Junkman said:

The CH2000 is my "other" airplane, planning to instruct in it when I retire in a few years. Please post more if you hear anything more on this one.

Cheers,

Rick

I've still heard nothing.  It may be awhile...

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Gald to see none was injured ,,, I was a bit sad to find this and see my old friend end its flying days... I had this aircraft for over 25 years made the cover of MOA mag and fly it everywhere all over the US and Bahamas...I put the bladders in it and there is a bit unusable fuel  and the dipping stick was nothing more than a paint stirrer made up by the company that put the tanks in....  I always used Time for fuel and never relied on anything else...What a shame....

MOA Mag cover.jpg

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I wish my wife was as open minded as your fiancee. She tends to put the brakes on anything that looks like it might be too much fun.

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On my first long cross-country with my new Mooney M20E I scared myself. I taken much longer coming up from north Carolina than expected (battery ran down and needed recharge in Virginina). They were having a heat wave and I'm sure I got a little dehydrated. Any way I cut the flight short and landed in Lawrence, Massachusetts coming from Central Jersey (47N), instead of going all the way home to Maine.

 The next morning I checked the fuel tanks and realized one was nearly empty and the other full; I had done it all on one tank and landed on the nearly empty tank instead of switching to the most full tank. Lawrence (LWM) is one of those tabletop airports with a steep dropoff at the end of the runway. If i had lost it on short final it would have been a bad setup. I can still remember what I call the "stone cold sober" feeling I had when I looked into that tank and saw almost no gas.

It's very easy to revert to previous training. The Cessna's I grew up with had a "both" setting and I usually just used that all the time. In the Mooneys we have to actually think a bit more about fuel management.

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Posted (edited)

Nice Pirep PineRunner...

Kind of demonstrates the value of transition training...

There are so many details to become familiar with. It only takes omitting one little detail that can ruin your day.

I actually put the tank selector valve in the both position for my first Mooney flight, while taxiing to the run-up area.

I also learned that I should speak loud enough that my CFI can hear me while touching things I'm unfamiliar with...:)

For everyone not familiar, there is no both in low wing planes... the place where 'both' would be is actually 'off' between left and right....

at idle speed, the engine runs about thirty seconds before dying...

Best regards,

-a-

Edited by carusoam
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Also a good argument for doing things deliberately in the cockpit rather than by rote or just because.  Always good to actively fly the airplane rather than riding along just to enjoy the view.

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Glad you both made out OK. Possessions can be replaced, lives and health not as much. Good luck, thanks for your service. LMB CPT USAR RET

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Welcome out in the posting open, Lew.

Best regards,

-a-

 

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