"We have 45 minutes of fuel"

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by RooFlyer, Jul 8, 2014.

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  1. RooFlyer

    RooFlyer Enthusiast

    Nov 12, 2012
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    So we are on Austrian Airlines OS 0785 from Vienna to Sibiu, Romania, 90 minutes scheduled in a Dash 8.

    Take off in good weather, but it clouds under us about 45 mins in. We soon descend beneath the cover, but its obvious we aren't landing. We go on for about 20 minutes, reasonably low, beneath heavy cloud. Then we do a circle. Hmmm .. Sibiu ATC holding us back?

    Then the Captain comes on, and makes an announcement first in German. Many in the Cabin react. Then the English version. Seems there are heavy thunderstorms at Sibiu, so we'll have to wait for that. "Its OK" the Captain says "We have 45 minutes of fuel." :shock:

    $*&%!! Was that meant to be re-assuring? How long to an alternative strip, I wonder? I know the largest city in the area, Brasov, doesn't have ANY commercial airport.

    Anyway, for the next hour - yes, hour - we meander about the Romanian countryside. I would have loved to get the flight path from Flight Aware but even today the flight is recorded "Status
    result unknown (?) "

    We went up & down, round and left and right. Finally, we did land OK (obviously), to loud applause on touchdown, 1 hour late and about 75 minutes after the 'announcement'. :shock:

    I can only guess that the Captain (not a native English speaker I'm guessing) meant to say we have 1 hour 45 mins of fuel, or something like that. But he definitely said 45 minutes. I know we were in safe hands, but it wasn't the most relaxing of flights!

  2. straitman


    Apr 27, 2003
    SE Oz (Sale)
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    My educated guess is that he really meant there was 45 minutes of normally usable fuel plus reserves. The reserves would normally be in the vicinity of another 45 minutes plus a 15% variable reserve plus the holding fuel and/or diversion fuel that he would have been required to carry.

    That is why you carry reserves so that when it all goes wrong they are there to be used. Not an ideal situation but probably not as bad as it would appear at first.
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  3. drb1979

    drb1979 Intern

    May 3, 2007
    #3 drb1979, Jul 9, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2014
    Curious announcement to make - would have been better if he said nothing amount remaining fuel!

    Back in 1997 I sat in the flight deck for many hours flying AKL>LAX and I specifically remember the Captain(one of those QF "Pacific Barons") stating they occasionally landed with only 45 minutes of fuel remaining in LAX. I was speechless to hear the margin was so small.

    Maybe JB747 can comment but I assume that would be just enough to fly a missed approach into LAX and then go to John Wayne/Orange County, SAN or LAS but you wouldn't want any other surprises once committed to one of those destinations!
  4. TomVexille

    TomVexille Enthusiast

    Nov 12, 2013
    I'd think it was 45 minutes before he has to make a decision to divert or not.
  5. straitman


    Apr 27, 2003
    SE Oz (Sale)
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    Probably right. 45 min plus reserves.
  6. DC3

    DC3 Established Member

    Jan 8, 2010
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    Yikes!!!! :shock:
  7. JessicaTam


    Jan 29, 2012
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    Or if something has to be said, leave it non-specific like "plenty of fuel".
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  8. Buzzard

    Buzzard Senior Member

    Jan 22, 2013
    What an exciting flight.
  9. ozbeachbabe

    ozbeachbabe Senior Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    Unless the Captain meant in addition to the trip fuel he had 45 minutes worth of fuel for 'holding' in addition to enough fuel for the alternate city in the case of a diversion.

    Probably just one of those 'lost in translation' moments.
  10. bass_ke

    bass_ke Active Member

    Sep 25, 2011
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    Enough fuel works for me as well.

    On a recent CNS - HID flight where weather was expected in HID the captain told us not to worry as we had enough fuel to divert to Weipa if needed!
  11. harvyk

    harvyk Senior Member

    Apr 15, 2009
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    I'm going with a lost in translation moment / cap't missing out of a vital bit of detail without realising it.

    Need to keep in mind, the flight crew are just as committed to getting the plane safely back onto the ground as any of the pax.
  12. Buzzard

    Buzzard Senior Member

    Jan 22, 2013
    Mrs. B said she would pass out if she heard an announcement like that :shock:

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