When the Queen lets you down

I never really do flight reports but this one was a bit different than normal. The plan was do an easy night flight from Hamad to Cologne on the casual server, using the UPS Boeing 747-8F. The flight should have taken around 6.5 hours…

With 8.5 hours of fuel loaded, I took off without a clue about the mess that was about to unfold.

Headwinds over the Middle-East were about 100kts. The fuel meter was indicating that I had a bit less fuel than I needed to reach Cologne. Nothing to worry about I thought as the winds would get calmer once I would fly into Greece’s airspace.

Once I flew into Greece’s airspace, the winds were down to about a 50kt headwind. I expected my fuel reserves to indicate that I would have enough to reach my destination. However, it became clear that I wouldn’t safely reach Cologne with the expected winds further down my route. I used Windy to plan a new route, making use of the 50kt tailwind along the Croatian coast. My hope was that at the end of this zone, my fuel reserves would be enough to get me to Cologne.

Sadly, it didn’t do the trick, I was still not going to make it to Cologne with a safe amount of fuel near the end of the flight. I diverted to Zurich for a quick refuel. Enjoying the beautiful landscape during the approach.

After a smooth landing, I parked at a stand near the runway I was planning to take off from.

Refuelled the aircraft with 3 hours of extra fuel, just to be extra safe.

Got back in the sky by flying the typical circling departure route towards the North…

…and finally made it to Cologne. 1.5 hours behind schedule but with a lot of new knowledge on how to salvage a flight with bad wind conditions and an aircraft that burns a lot more fuel than it should.

Hope you enjoyed the photos and the story! :)


Wow did had you have any stop overs

1 Like

Great photos!

Next time I would use Simbrief.com as that will give you an accurate amount of fuel based on predicted winds, etc…

1 Like

What was your altitude?

1 Like

Nice photos! I should really go a 747 long haul soon

1 Like

Started at 30.000ft as I was heavy. Went up to 32.000 above Egypt but the winds were way too high at that altitude. Went down to 24.000 for a while as the headwinds were about 60kts lower at that altitude, lowering the gap between my remaining flight time and fuel reserves with about half an hour. Not the most efficient altitude in normal conditions but it was the most efficient altitude to be at with these winds.

I once tried to fly Beijing to LAX on the Air China 748. I had enough fuel but when I woke up off the coast of Washington, all engines were down and the plane was slowly decending😅 I couldn’t make it to land so I just landed it on water. Didn’t crash😁

1 Like

Thanks for the tip. I usually just look up the flight time for the routes I’m doing and add 2+ hours of extra fuel to it. Always works out except for the last 3 times I flew long haul in the 747.

The predicted flight time at the fuel page always seems to be way above the actual flight time that can be achieved. Not a huge surprise as the 747’s in IF are outdated and the physics aren’t up to a realistic standard sadly. Just something that has to be taken into account when using it.

1 Like

Yeah you have to keep a close eye on the fuel burn and pack a lot of extra fuel, lots of people have been caught out by it

1 Like

Definitely a fun aircraft family to fly long routes with. :)

1 Like

Be careful with Simbrief. Normally they tell you to overpack (because IF aircraft tend to be more efficient than their real life counterparts), but there are cases especially with the 747s that they tell you to underpack.

I created a routing for JFK-LHR, 5:40 flight time. At a realistic ZFW, Simbrief tells me I need 101,000 pounds of trip fuel (130,000 pounds of block fuel). Putting the same weight and the Simbrief flight time into my fuel calculator tells me that to complete the flight I need 117,000 pounds of trip fuel (140,000 pounds of block fuel - and my contingency is not as strict as Simbrief’s plus this is if you adhere to a strict, most-efficient altitude guideline). This would leave you around half an hour short.

It really is not a good idea to blindly trust Simbrief with any aircraft that has efficiency issues (all 747s, A340, maybe the reworked A330s as well).


Also @Toon here’s the calculator I was referencing, obviously I cannot guarantee that it will work 100% of the time but it has not failed me yet.


I create custom aircraft profiles for every aircraft and livery combination I fly - I’ve never had a problem when flying the older aircraft.

1 Like

I didn’t even know you could do that to be honest, could you run that same routing with your updated profile and report back with a screenshot?


Very nice screen shots

1 Like

Thanks, will definitely save that for later!

I had the same thing happen in the A340 last week. It has been really windy

1 Like