Fuel Emergency Procedure when active ATC

Situation:
Flight from YSSY-KLAX
MD11F

About 600 miles outside of LAX, i begin to realize I most likely don’t have the fuel required to make the approach to KLAX (Traffic was landing on the 25’s, I could probably have shot the string in approach to the 7’s.) Around 150nm out I make the decision to divert to KINS and stay out the way of the active, dense airspace. I understand that there is now a feature in the ATC commands to handle such a situation, but my thinking was it is better to divert out of the way rather than clog up traffic any more than already is.

My question is, how do our Air traffic Controllers want this situation to play out? Was the decision to divert to avoid the airspace the correct one?

EDIT: I understand fuel planning is my responsibility and that I dropped the ball on proper fuel management, but regardless, this is the situation we were presented with.

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I think the best situation is to land as soon as possible anywhere, dont avoid the airspace! The controller is there to help you and will try to make the best of the situation.

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In some ways… It was better for you to divert… (TS1)

But if it was on expert, then the ATC would most likely sequence everyone in the way behind you and just make them do 360’s or something!


You Made The Right Call and Saved Lives! :)

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The issue here is that you didn’t catch your issue earlier. If you are halfway through your flight and you think you might not have enough fuel, don’t wait until the last minute at 100nm to make the decision to divert, due it immediately! By diverting earlier, there is no emergency risk, and after refueling, you can continue to your final destination.

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Couldn’t agree more! My ETOPS divert point was PHNL, but I set my device on autopilot and did errands all day. Missed the Honolulu window and by the time I came home I found myself in the aforementioned pickle. All said, I learned the operational limit of our shiny new MD11!

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If you are already flying a straight course for the airport, there’s not much ATC can do other than make sure you don’t do random 360’s or hold vectors. Its going to take you roughly the same time to get there.

It really depends on where you are coming from and the traffic flow.

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Even the best of us can make fuel mistakes, I have done a couple of times despite my best efforts to prevent it. Now onto your question…

There is no reason to avoid the airspace due to low fuel. If you wish to divert to a closer airport, there is no problem with that, just make sure you convey your intentions to the appropriate ATC facility if applicable. We will never force you to stay on your flight plan. If you request an approach/vectors to a different airport, we will accommodate for that. If you choose to land at your destination airport on low fuel, then that is perfectly fine. While we would obviously prefer you have enough reserve fuel to follow other aircraft in, we understand that there isn’t much you can do if you are on low fuel, and mistakes do happen. Make sure you declare a fuel emergency when in tower’s airspace, and we will get you on the ground. We will work other traffic around you to make sure we can get you down as quickly as possible, sometimes even on an inactive runway if absolutely necessary and as long as wind and traffic conditions allow for a safe landing.

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Usually, I find that adding 3 hours more fuel than you think you need is the best way to not run into this situation. If I know the route well though, I usually know how much fuel to put in.

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adding 3 hours is a bit excessive. If you plan properly you should still have your contingency and your final reserve, if you really want some more comfort add another 30-45 odd minutes to that.

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I know it is excessive, but hey, I have never once had a slight fuel issue

Better safe than sorry!

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in that case why not take 5 hours?

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Good idea! Thanks for the advice!

No but really 5 hours is so much that I would worry about weight issues

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You could take 5 hours in an aircraft with fuel jettison capabilities ;)

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Precisely… it’s what I do usually

Just not with 5, with 3

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@jmwilliams17… MaxSez: J Your decision to devert was the correct choice. Never forget the Pilot in Command is the decision maker not some 2d party. I note your where 150 Out not under positive control (Checked in). If you where under ATC positive Control call “Missed! and fill up at the nearest air field whose length will accept yr aircraft type.

Note: By observation I note some members view Ghosting as a factor in the decision loop. Be it RW or IF let your training an conscience be your Yr guide. In both environments you’ll get to argue your case if involved in an Incidant or Accident in situations like this.

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@Jake_Stopher. MaxSez: Educate me Jake is there a recently published emergency or fuel emergency request in the Comm Menu?

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Yes, when you have been flying for a certain period of time (I believe it’s over an hour, but don’t quote me on that), and have less than 30 minutes of fuel remaining, there is an option in the Comm menu that says “Emergency Requests”, with sub-menu options of “Minimum Fuel” and “Emergency Fuel”. This feature was added with the “Global” update.

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@Jake_Stopher. MaxSez: Hidden gems! Wounder why this Chg was not hilighted. Here come the “Mayday” scenarios once this request becomes Public knowledge.

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Actually what are the differences between the two?

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Not entirely sure if I’m honest. From an ATC standpoint, I would recommend only using “Emergency Fuel” if you do not have enough fuel for a go-around, otherwise, use “Minimum Fuel”.

If I were to guess the real world application, I would say you would use “Minimum Fuel” when you’re into your contingency fuel, and “Emergency Fuel” when into your final reserve. But that’s just a wild shot in the dark.

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