Pilots Using More 'Fuel Fudge-Factor' To Protect
The increased price of oil has some
airlines looking at grounding some of its fleet if fuel prices
continue to climb. An investigation by WABC-NY found that some
airlines might be trying to cut costs by lightening the load and
flying with less fuel. But pilots say its delays that may be using
According to the report that offers a recorded conversation
between a commercial airline pilot and air traffic controllers
offered a look at what some might see as a cost savings
Pilot: "We are minimum fuel, sir."
Air traffic controller: "You're declaring an emergency at this
time. The time is now 22:57. I need the souls on board and fuel in
pounds when you arrive."
Pilot: "Copy that. One hundred fifty-seven souls on board. We
have exactly 38 minutes of fuel remaining."
Controllers gave the plane priority landing and it safely
touched down with just minutes of fuel remaining, according to the
An examination of the airports landings showed several similar
At Newark Liberty International Airport, just five flights
landed under minimum or low-fuel conditions over a six-month period
in 2005. In a similar period this year, 73 flights came into the
same airport with minimum fuel.
The report also said 10 flights had to declare the more serious
emergency fuel situation, of less than 30-minutes fuel reserve.
Ray Adams, an Air traffic controller says in the last two years
he's noticed an astounding increase in the number of flights coming
into Newark under minimum or emergency fuel conditions.
"When aircraft come into our airport at Newark with a minimum
fuel state, they become a priority for us and it's an extra focus
of attention on that aircraft, which increases the complexity of
your already complex operation," Adams said.
Federal Aviation Administration
requires airlines to carry additional fuel in case of unexpected
delays or weather.
Some airlines are putting pressure on them to cut back on this
fuel safety cushion to save money, according to the report.
Airline pilot Bruce Meyer, who retired last year, said he was
called out by an airline for carrying too much fuel.
"I was specifically called in and asked why I was adding fuel as
many times as I had been adding, which I had to explain the
reasons, which were air traffic control delays that I knew about
every morning," Meyer said.
Using preventative measures, Meyer said that he added more fuel
to compensate for delays at airports.
"I had to use different ruses to make the paperwork or hide the
fact that I was putting fuel on board, but my responsibility as
captain is to my passengers, my aircraft, and my crew and to the
safety of that flight," Meyer said.
FAA officials refused interviews on this topic saying only that
they record emergency landings, not minimum fuel reports. WABC
countered that its investigation, and the data used for the story
was from FAA documents.