A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as
representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have
heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we
might never have considered before, or something that didn't
"stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for
the practical test.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
One of aviation's few "cardinal
sins" is fuel exhaustion -- and it's often fatal. Yesterday, we began a
discussion of what Advisory Circular 61-23C, the Pilot's
Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, tells us about
fuel planning... and how its guidance is only a small part of the
fuel consumption story.
Fuel Consumption (from the Advisory Circular)
Time in flight multiplied by rate of consumption gives the
quantity of fuel required. For example, a flight of 400 NM at a
groundspeed of 100 knots requires 4 hours. If the plane consumes 5
gallons an hour, the total consumption will be 4 x 5, or 20
gallons. The rate of fuel consumption depends on many factors:
condition of the engine...
How could engine condition affect the rate of fuel
- Many fuel-injected engines are fuel-imbalanced. You may need to
run some cylinders very rich (wasting fuel) to keep one or two
cylinders' temperatures under control.
- Carbureted engines may also be mis-adjusted, leading to fuel
- It's common for an engine to get more efficient once it has
been run for some time. Fuel consumption may drop somewhat after
the engine completes the break-in process, up to 50 hours time in
service according to engine manufacturers (more if the engine is
not properly managed during break-in).
- Similarly, as an engine ages it may "loosen up" and burn more
fuel. Further, to get the same performance with a less-efficient
engine you may find yourself bumping up the power setting,
requiring even more fuel.
Aero-tip of the day: A well-built,
well-maintained and well-broken-in engine stands the best chance of
meeting Pilot's Operating Handbook fuel flows. Anything else
means you need to determine fuel burn expectations from your own
experience to avoid coming up short of your planned