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Over Grossweight

ManChild

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We operate an airplane that is very weight critical. Frequently to keep from making a stop, gross weight is exceeded by a couple hundred pounds, sometimes more. Flying as a copilot I don’t have much choice other than refusing to get on the plane. I’ve tried arguing both the safety and legal aspects. No one seems to think there would be a problem on one engine over gross. Even if the plane could do it, I’ve tried to say that the FAA could easily violate for being over gross if ramp checked. However no one believes that the FAA would ever be able to figure that out. So I guess my question is this an operating norm in the industry, and has anyone ever heard of an instance of being violated for being over gross? Thanks
 

some_dude

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No, it is NOT an operating norm.

Under 91, unless you crash, it is unlikely that the FAA would violate your for being over gross. If you blow a tire on takeoff or have some other problem, however, you could easily end up violated, even if the problem had nothing to do with being over gross. Also consider that your insurance might not be valid in that case.

ManChild said:
We operate an airplane that is very weight critical. Frequently to keep from making a stop, gross weight is exceeded by a couple hundred pounds, sometimes more. Flying as a copilot I don’t have much choice other than refusing to get on the plane. I’ve tried arguing both the safety and legal aspects. No one seems to think there would be a problem on one engine over gross. Even if the plane could do it, I’ve tried to say that the FAA could easily violate for being over gross if ramp checked. However no one believes that the FAA would ever be able to figure that out. So I guess my question is this an operating norm in the industry, and has anyone ever heard of an instance of being violated for being over gross? Thanks
 

TransMach

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Gross Weight

I'm not suggesting you should break a rule. But one thing I've learned in my career in this industry is that airplanes always fly better a little heavy than they do a little out of gas.

TransMach
 

G100driver

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Airplanes can also make a fuel stop before running out of gas as well.

Some dude is correct. If you blow a tire, run off the runway and damage the airplane the insurance will most likely NOT pay. The contract normally states that they will not pay damages if the airplane is operated outside the AFM limitiations. The insurance company has an entire legal staff dedicated to not paying claims. You will get caught in this senerio, or any other one for that matter. I guess the CP makes lots of money if he can afford to cover this claim himself.
 

avbug

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Manchild,

You stated that the airplane you fly is "weight critical." What did you mean? Are you extremely performance limited at higher weights? Or is the empty weight just heavy with little pay load after fuel?

You do what you can accept, but know this. You start accepting little things, then bigger things. Nobody ever starts out being willing to accept or do the big things...but once you start down that path for an employer, the employer just wants to keep taking, and taking.

Safety of flight issues are supposed to be untouchable things. Most places, invoke the holy phrase "safety of flight," and the world stops spinning and comes to a screaching halt. But only if you stand up for it.

As a junior employee, this is difficult. You sometimes have the option to shut up and do it, or quit. I've quit before, rather than put up with what I found unacceptable.

The question then comes back to you. What do you find acceptable?

If the aircraft is range limited, then it needs to make fuel stops. If the aircraft is being pushed so far that it needs that extra two hundred pounds of fuel, it's probably being pushed too far. This is the thing you can see happening in your department. What about the things you can't see? How many inspections or cycles over are certain components? If they're willing to let one thing go, what about others? Is your mission so important that pushing fuel or other limitations becomes necessary every time? If not, then why are they doing it?

These are things you need to ask yourself when you consider what you can live with and what you cannot, what you can accept, and what you must reject.

Operationally, I'd much rather have extra fuel at the end of the trip than too little. How you accomplish that and what you're willing to do to make it happen is up to you.
 

Lead Sled

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avbug said:
Manchild,

You stated that the airplane you fly is "weight critical." What did you mean? Are you extremely performance limited at higher weights? Or is the empty weight just heavy with little pay load after fuel?

You do what you can accept, but know this. You start accepting little things, then bigger things. Nobody ever starts out being willing to accept or do the big things...but once you start down that path for an employer, the employer just wants to keep taking, and taking.

Safety of flight issues are supposed to be untouchable things. Most places, invoke the holy phrase "safety of flight," and the world stops spinning and comes to a screaching halt. But only if you stand up for it.

As a junior employee, this is difficult. You sometimes have the option to shut up and do it, or quit. I've quit before, rather than put up with what I found unacceptable.

The question then comes back to you. What do you find acceptable?

If the aircraft is range limited, then it needs to make fuel stops. If the aircraft is being pushed so far that it needs that extra two hundred pounds of fuel, it's probably being pushed too far. This is the thing you can see happening in your department. What about the things you can't see? How many inspections or cycles over are certain components? If they're willing to let one thing go, what about others? Is your mission so important that pushing fuel or other limitations becomes necessary every time? If not, then why are they doing it?

These are things you need to ask yourself when you consider what you can live with and what you cannot, what you can accept, and what you must reject.

Operationally, I'd much rather have extra fuel at the end of the trip than too little. How you accomplish that and what you're willing to do to make it happen is up to you.
Avbug...
As usual, very well said.

Manchild...
I feel your pain. I worked for a large multi-aircraft Part 91 flight department for 15 years. For 12 of those years it was the best corporate job around. Then we got a new CP whose personal philosophies included, among other gems, "they build enough margin into the performance charts that we can safely ignore them." This cavalear attitude created the following issues:

1. We bought a new (serial #10) jet. After the dust settles, the CP realized that the aircraft doesn't have the useful load capability to fill the fuel tanks to capacity, let alone carry any passengers without off loading a corresponding amount of weight in fuel. His solution? I was asked to fabricate a weight and balance document that shows a basic operating weight and center of gravity that would allow the operation of the aircraft with full fuel, 6 passengers and their baggage. I refused to do it.

2. We operated several other jets which, when all of the passenger seats were filled, have a center of gravity which falls outside of the forward edge of the envelope. We were frequently is assigned trips that included carrying full passenger loads over a significant distance. In order to eliminate the need to make a fuel stop, the chief pilot “reworks” the weight and balance document to show a more favorable basic operating weight and CG position allowing the aircraft to carry full fuel with all of the passenger seats filled. This was accomplished by intentionally misweighing or ignoring the weight of items that are normally carried on the aircraft and by misstating the location of certain items – for example stating the weight of a complete set of Domestic US Jepp charts at ½ their actual weight and calculating their “moment” as if they were stored in the aft baggage compartment instead of up forward in their cockpit storage area. I refused to use the "revised" numbers and continued to use numbers that I knew to be accurate.

3. The company’s Director of Flight Operations looked the other way while all of this is going on - after all, as he explained to us in a staff meeting: “...it's impossible to make a totally legal flight”.

The bosses love it - imagine never being told that something can't be done.

It's a matter of personal intregrity. As Avbug said, the final decision is up to you. Fortunately, I had enough senority to shield me, for a time, from his stupid and dangerous policies. However, it simply wasn't worth the agrevation and I eventually left just like I left a couple of other jobs where they tried to play games with safety. You are going to have to set your own personal limits. You know what you're eventually going to have to do.

'Sled
 

DAL737FO

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I've run into this a good many times with one aircraft in particular...the King Air 200. I flew the King Airs in the Army and we could go up to 15,200 in some of the ones I flew. Matter of fact the FAA was giving us BE-200 type ratings because of it. Now fast forward to the civilian world. I had a gentleman talk to me, just recently, about flying his new King Air under part 91. He knew I flew them in the Army and mentioned we were going to fly them just like in the Army. When I asked what that meant he said that it was good that I had experience flying the aircraft well over it's 12,500 limit and that was just done so that it wouldn't require a type rating. I haven't talked to him since. Can the airplane do it...yep. Is it legal or smart...nope.

DAL737FO
 

RightTraffic

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ManChild
The only time you have too much fuel is when your plane is on fire or the FAA on board! A good firend of mine was viloated 2 years ago for being over gross. He was taxiing out an blew a tire and when he came back to the ramp, the feds were waitng for him. They ramped him and saw that he had more fuel in his tanks than what was stated on his W/B. So he was vioated and almost got his ticket revoked but got off easy with a 30 day suspension. We all know what our planes can do but the legal aspect is what really has to be respected Know what I'm sayiing. Its your ticket and your income.
 

Gulfstream 200

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TransMach said:
I'm not suggesting you should break a rule. But one thing I've learned in my career in this industry is that airplanes always fly better a little heavy than they do a little out of gas.
TransMach


ahh....great attitude....cant wait until this generation is gone.

You want an airplane that carries the fuel you need?.....buy one.
 

Flying Illini

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Everyone above is more experience than myself and they all have great responses to your inquiry. At our company, Safety is #1. Period. Fortunatly we have a management team that will stand behind the crews decisions (as long as they make sense). If the pax have a problem with a fuel stop, then it's their problem. They can pay for the difference between their aircraft and one that's more capable for the mission, or they can accept what has to be done. After all, the crew is there looking out for them as well...we don't want to do something unsafe and risk our careers or the lives of anyone on board.
We have a phrase at our company that can be used by captain, copilot, and flight attendant alike. "I'm not comfortable with this." That throws the red flags. Drop the anchor, all stop on the engines. We need to slow down and as a crew, determine why someone is not comfortable with what is about to happen. If you are a new FO or Captain or in a new aircraft, there may be something that you aren't comfy with even though it is perfectly safe. But, by throwing the phrase out there, the issue is addressed, directly. No beating around the bush. If, after discussion the crewmember is still uncomfortable with it, then that next action doesn't happen. It is a phase that is taken very seriously and is treated like yelling "fire" in a crowded movie theater is treated. You don't say it unless you mean it. In my 2.5 yrs here, I have yet to here it, nor have I said it, but it's nice to have in your back pocket.

I think you know what is right, smart, legal and safe in your operation...are you willing to take part in operations that are none of the above 4 words?
 

Gulfstream 200

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ManChild said:
We operate an airplane that is very weight critical. Frequently to keep from making a stop, gross weight is exceeded by a couple hundred pounds, sometimes more. Flying as a copilot I don’t have much choice other than refusing to get on the plane. I’ve tried arguing both the safety and legal aspects. No one seems to think there would be a problem on one engine over gross. Even if the plane could do it, I’ve tried to say that the FAA could easily violate for being over gross if ramp checked. However no one believes that the FAA would ever be able to figure that out. So I guess my question is this an operating norm in the industry, and has anyone ever heard of an instance of being violated for being over gross? Thanks


Far from the norm.

Many places would have your a$$ for operating the aircraft outside its published limitations.

always love that "they build in a cushion" crowd. Total ametuers.
 

CitationXDriver

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This happened just recently to a pilot I know. Two individuals watched him load his King Air , after he was done loading, they walked up to him, indentified themselves as inspectors and told him they believed he was over gross. They proceeded to borrow scales from the local maintenance facility and take everything out and weigh it. 9 pounds under gross!! It was a 135 flight but the inspectors had no idea of that until after the inspection was started. I guess I am saying it can happen anytime, anywhere. Its a bad idea to do it once, much less time and time again. And like the gentleman before me said, if your willing to start overlooking this, what are you gonna be willing to overlook in the future?
 

some_dude

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I'm not advocating operating over gross at all (see my earlier post), but the key to this situation is that they were 135. If your friend was 91, he could have told them to pound sand.

Truthfully, your friend could (and should) have told them to buzz off anyway-- FAA inspectors are not permitted to delay a departure in order to conduct a ramp check.

CitationXDriver said:
This happened just recently to a pilot I know. Two individuals watched him load his King Air , after he was done loading, they walked up to him, indentified themselves as inspectors and told him they believed he was over gross. They proceeded to borrow scales from the local maintenance facility and take everything out and weigh it. 9 pounds under gross!! It was a 135 flight but the inspectors had no idea of that until after the inspection was started. I guess I am saying it can happen anytime, anywhere. Its a bad idea to do it once, much less time and time again. And like the gentleman before me said, if your willing to start overlooking this, what are you gonna be willing to overlook in the future?
 

avbug

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We have a phrase at our company that can be used by captain, copilot, and flight attendant alike. "I'm not comfortable with this." That throws the red flags. Drop the anchor, all stop on the engines.

I've always maintained the same policy. The most conservative opinion on the flight wins. That doesn't matter if it's my opinion, that of my first officer, or a passenger for that matter. If I'm not comfortable, we're not going. We're going to change something, stay, delay, go elsewhere, whatever. Same if the F/O isn't comfortable. It's his life and certificate on the line, too. Perhaps he sees or knows something I don't. If a passenger doesn't like something, that's also a red flag. It either needs an explaination, needs to be changed, or something needs to be done to ensure the passenger is satisified, or it's not going to go. The most conservative opinion wins.

I'm not advocating operating over gross at all (see my earlier post), but the key to this situation is that they were 135. If your friend was 91, he could have told them to pound sand.

Truthfully, your friend could (and should) have told them to buzz off anyway-- FAA inspectors are not permitted to delay a departure in order to conduct a ramp check.

Negativo. First of all, the Administrator does have the option to conduct a ramp check, and second of all, failure to demonstrate an attitude of compliance will land you in hot water faster than anything.

If the Adminstrator believes a safety of flight issue is involved, the Administrator has EVERY right to delay a flight.
 

some_dude

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A call to the ops unit supervisor telling him that his guy delayed my flight for no reason (because remember, in the story above the guy was BELOW gross weight) will not help out that inspector's career. A written request for an explanation from the FSDO manager, ops unit supervisor, and the inspector would be even better.

I agree about safety of flight issues. However, the administrator does not have the option of requesting my load manifest or other weight and balance data on a 91 ramp check if there is not an obvious safety of flight issue.

Read Chapter 56 ("Conduct A FAR Part 91 Ramp Check") of the GA Inspector's Handbook (8700.1). It specifically states that "If the surveillance will delay a flight, the inspector should use prudent judgement whether or not to continue." It goes on to say that "The inspector should also bear in mind that he or she may not be able to complete all items on every ramp inspection. "

Chapter 56 also says nothing about weight and balance, beyond verifying that the appropriate weight and balance documents in the AFM are on board.

Always be polite and helpful where possible-- after all, they are just doing their job-- but know what they can and cannot ask you to do, and don't let them push you around.

avbug said:
Negativo. First of all, the Administrator does have the option to conduct a ramp check, and second of all, failure to demonstrate an attitude of compliance will land you in hot water faster than anything.

If the Adminstrator believes a safety of flight issue is involved, the Administrator has EVERY right to delay a flight.
 
Last edited:

DAL737FO

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"Always be polite and helpful where possible-- after all, they are just doing their job-- but know what they can and cannot ask you to do, and don't let them push you around."

This is a big difference between how you said it the first time. I think go pound sand comes to mind. Now who do you think would end up in hot water in the first scenario.
 

Ace-of-the-Base

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avbug said:
I've always maintained the same policy. The most conservative opinion on the flight wins. That doesn't matter if it's my opinion, that of my first officer, or a passenger for that matter.

I'm not comfortable flying at night, if we're flying together, is that OK with you?
:)

A cute joke, but anything can be taken to an extreme. I have had first officers that felt uncomfortable with an operation and just needed to be educated.

Ace
 

cxcap

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I'll bet you wouldnt be so worried about a couple hundred pounds if you were trying to jumpseat home.
 

some_dude

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You are correct, I definitely overdid it in the first post.

DAL737FO said:
"Always be polite and helpful where possible-- after all, they are just doing their job-- but know what they can and cannot ask you to do, and don't let them push you around."

This is a big difference between how you said it the first time. I think go pound sand comes to mind. Now who do you think would end up in hot water in the first scenario.
 

Hugh Johnson

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Yep
B-200 type rating only applies to a few special mission military aircraft with specific limitations. Good luck to whomever decides to operate a B-200 Normal Catagory.
 
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