AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 24

PILOT COUNSEL

Running on empty (2)

BY JOHN S. YODICE

IFR fuel requirements

JOHN S. YODICE 

has served as
legal counsel for
AOPA for more
than 50 years.

LAST MONTH I REVIEWED THE minimum fuel requirements for flight in VFR conditions ("Pilot Counsel:
Running on Empty," November 2013 AOPA Pilot). This
month I am on to the IFR requirements, with some of
its more important nuances and interpretations.
The wording of FAR 91.167(a) provides that, "No
person may operate a civil aircraft in IFR conditions
unless it carries enough fuel (considering weather
reports and forecasts and weather conditions) to: complete the flight to the first airport of intended landing;
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section,
fly from that airport to the alternate airport; and (3) Fly
after that for 45 minutes at normal cruising speed or,
for helicopters, fly after that for 30 minutes at normal
cruising speed."
The paragraph (b) exception allows a pilot to eliminate from his or her computation the fuel necessary
to fly from the first airport to the alternate if the first
airport is expecting good weather and if it has an instrument approach. The first airport must have a standard
instrument approach procedure (or a special instrument procedure issued to the aircraft operator). And,
for at least one hour before and one hour after the estimated time of arrival, the relevant weather reports/
forecasts must indicate that the ceiling will be at least
2,000 feet above the airport elevation and visibility will
be at least three statute miles. For helicopters, at the
estimated time of arrival and for one hour after that,
the ceiling must be expected to be at least 1,000 feet
above the airport elevation, or at least 400 feet above
the lowest applicable approach minima-whichever is
higher-and the visibility must be expected to be at least
two statute miles.
These IFR fuel requirements apply only to flight in
IFR conditions. An IFR flight that will be conducted
completely in VFR conditions need only meet the VFR
fuel requirements of FAR 91.151, discussed last month.
And as discussed last month, here is nuance that
merits special mention. In calculating the fuel requirement a pilot must assume "normal cruising speed,"
taking into account weather reports and forecasts and
weather conditions. Clearly, although the rule may read
to mean normal cruising airspeed, the expected groundspeed must be computed as well. The winds that are
forecast and reported, and the computed headwind
components, must be taken into account in computing
the fuel needed at "normal cruising speed."

24  |  AOPA PILOT  December 2013

A more difficult question is the word "normal" in
that phrase. We know that there is a whole range of fuel
consumption figures for various cruise configurations
of an aircraft. Would it be legal to select the most fuelefficient cruise configuration in figuring the required
reserve? After all, you could always go to that configuration in flight if fuel becomes a problem. An old FAA
interpretation suggests that the FAA would not consider
it "normal" to use a different cruising speed for computing the fuel reserve than that used for the flight itself.
What about landing without all of the required
reserve in the tanks? In a past FAA enforcement case,
the NTSB had no problem with it: "Inasmuch as the
[FAA] did not establish that the [pilot's] planned flight
time was invalid or unreasonable, it is of no consequence, for purposes of determining whether the
[pilot] began the flight with the fuel reserves required
by FAR section 91.167, that the flight took longer than
was anticipated and, as a result, the aircraft landed with
less fuel than had been estimated." In a similar vein, the
FAA chief counsel interpreted the rule to allow a pilot
to "legally" use some of the 45-minute fuel reserve in
flight without declaring an emergency.
Another question answered by an FAA chief counsel interpretation is, if an alternate airport is required,
must there be sufficient fuel carried onboard to make
approaches at both the destination airport and the
flight's final landing at the alternate? The chief counsel
answers "yes." Nowhere in paragraph (a) of the rule do
the words "instrument approach" appear. But the words
that do appear, "complete the flight to the first airport"
and "fly...to the alternate airport," certainly imply the
possibility of an instrument approach or two. According
to the interpretation: "To promote aviation safety, the
FAA's rule assumes the pilot will attempt to land at the
destination airport and then fly to the alternate for the
ultimate conclusion of the safe flight. This reasonable
scenario includes an approach at both the destination
airport and the flight's final landing at the alternate.
The FAA believes marginal weather conditions change
rapidly. A pilot may start an approach to the destination airport with adequate minimum weather, but the
weather may change and force a missed approach.
Accordingly, the FAA rules require fuel for approaches
at both the destination and alternate airports." AOPA
WEB

www.aopa.org/yodiceassociates


http://www.aopa.org/yodiceassociates

AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013

AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
Contents
President’s Position
Visual Approach
Letters
Waypoints
Proficient Pilot
Foundation Focus
License to Learn
Pilot Counsel
Fly Well
What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Sweepstakes
Aviation Jobs
Gift Guide
Pilot Products
Pilot Products
News
People
Yacht of the Air
Around the World in 25 Days
Aviation Legends Walter Extra
Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
Technique
Proficiency
Wx Watch
Technology
Ownership
Frugal Flier
Never Again
State and Local Action
Member Products
AOPA Foundation
Member Services
Government Affairs
AOPA Insurance Agency
Fly by Wire
Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - President’s Position
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Visual Approach
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Letters
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Waypoints
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficient Pilot
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Foundation Focus
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - License to Learn
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Counsel
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly Well
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - What Happens in Vegas...
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Sweepstakes
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Jobs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Gift Guide
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilot Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - News
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - People
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Yacht of the Air
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Around the World in 25 Days
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Aviation Legends Walter Extra
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Safety Pilot Landmark Accident: Unpredicted, Unadvised, Unaware
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Summit 2013: Meeting Mr. Baker
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technique
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 74
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Proficiency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Wx Watch
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 80
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Technology
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 82
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Ownership
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 84
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Frugal Flier
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 87
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Never Again
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 91
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - State and Local Action
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 93
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Products
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 95
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Foundation
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 97
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Member Services
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 99
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Government Affairs
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 101
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - AOPA Insurance Agency
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 103
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 104
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 105
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 106
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Fly by Wire
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 108
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 109
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 110
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - 111
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Pilots
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2013 - Cover4
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