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Fuel policies

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Well-known member
Jun 3, 2006
We have strict fuel policies to follow regarding flight planning. However it doesn't do any good because the pilots have free reign to adjust fuel amounts to their liking/fancy.

How does your company handle fuel planning? Is the planned fuel on your release final say? Or does the Captain get to choose his/her own fuel load based on comfort like ours?

For instance I recently had a flight that originated in a city with high fuel prices. The aircraft went on maintenance and eventually had a tail swap. The captain called me and said the broken aircraft has max fuel onboard. I asked him why he fueled it to capacity and he said he didn't want to fuel at the next station (which had cheaper fuel). Consequently that aircraft had to be defueled to accommodate the next flight after maintenance signed it off because it exceeded MT.

Let's hear about your fuel policies....and share your stories about fuel fiascos.
Ours is easy. We plan for 30K over dest, 20K over alternate. 30,000 pounds is about 40-45 minutes at NSC in the 747-200.

Our crews can put on up to 10,000 lbs over release at their discretion, but anything over 1,000 lbs requires a report to be filed.

We do defuel alot, because the payloads that we carry are so heavy (230-240K).

USAF fuel is by far the worst in the world. For some reason, the USAF can't really get the required fuel on the airplane- they always overfill.
Our fuel loads are minuscule compared to your big birds!

I miss the B741 and B742's!
I tend to find with most all of our crews that as long as you have them land with 3,000 lbs over destination (CRjs), that they won't question it...as long as weather is good.
I rarely question extra fuel requests unless it's severe clear and there's really absolutely no need for it. I always put a note on the releases that the crew requested more fuel though, in case we take a delay for it, or management questions it for some reason. Management doesn't really get on our cases too bad about fuel...although recently they have added some cities they want us to try and tanker to, as well as they put out monthly reports about each dispatcher's average extra and hold fuel amounts.....they have never said there is a particular number they are aiming for...I think it's just a visual minder for us to watch unnecessary fuel amounts.
At OO we have a standard contingency fuel. If the dispatcher has reason to add extra fuel, they may do so at their discrection. As long as the dispatcher can justify the extra fuel, no one will question it.

The PIC can add whatever he wishes. But, he cannot lower it more than 200 lbs or 1/2 of the contingency, whichever is less, without having the dispatcher agree.
We (dispatchers) never get questioned on our fuel loads as long as we follow fueling policy rules. If we add more CT fuel than standard, we are required to make a note in the remarks section of the release i.e. CT: WX, ATC

Doesn't 00 get reimbursed for fuel on contract flying?
At my digs the fulers are to fuel the plane to planed fuel on the release. If the captian orders more then supposedly ops notes this and sends the issue on up the chain. I' don't recall any dispatchers having it hard from mgmt on excess fuel as long as the reason is noted in the release.
At our main hubs we call in the fuel loads ourselves so we generally have more control as to what gets put on. This is usually done before the captain brief. After the brief, the captain can give us his/her opinion as to why they need the additional fuel, then we call in a revised fuel order. Generally its pretty standard on arrival though for VFR days. Usually reserve + 20 mins hold on a VFR day which is usually on average around 5.0-6.0 FOA, B737NG. This isn’t so much policy so to say, its just generally the accepted "guidelines".

When weather/ATC/etc issues are thrown into the mix, then we analyze a little more and come to a general conclusion as to what the Captain and I feel is appropriate. Then we order based on the decision we come up with.

Unfortunately, sometimes we do dispatch and fuel based on the captain flying the aircraft. 99% of them are alright with the numbers, but there is that 1% who always, no matter what want more fuel. We know them by name and generally the release fuel reflects that before they get their paperwork.

At the outstations/destinations, the captains have more control. On multi-leg trips we build up the release and then send all the basic info to load up the box for the return/additional leg via ACARS with all the fuel and weight numbers. The captain is generally the one who orders fuel at the outstations since he is in direct contact first with the personnel there.

Our company allowance before contact with dispatch is +500 over release. The reasoning for that is sometimes the places we fly they may not have ground power, A/C, a 3rd world country...etc. It isn’t really to question their decision, it’s just to make the proper documentations. Anything over +1000 requires and amended release and a written report to the chief pilot and chief dispatcher by the captain.

We are generally encouraged to tanker/fuel through as much as possible within conservative limits (flights not actual LBS). Our flight planning systems calculates a potential savings based on the prices currently at the destination. Sometimes it may not be accurate though as the prices are updated manually by hand into the database. So you put garbage in the database, you get garbage results out.

Ultimately it is the captain’s decision and mine. The company can give us recommendations all they want, but we are responsible for it as long as it is safe, legal and justifiable within reason.

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The captain has final authority, it's his command. It has never been a problem with captains taking too much fuel. But then again, I don't work with VFR pilots dodging every cloud in the sky. The pilots I work with ROCK! I have not seen that problem since working for a commuter...erm...regional on paper but commuter on pay. :cool:

EDIT: I think there has been a time or two when they wanted more than planned, but they were right to have wanted it and who am I to argue when you have CATII forecast, CATIII more of a reality and guys holding in every quadrant of the air field that hold up CATII/III operators?
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