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Fuel requirements for Australian aircraft
Learn about the rules covering minimum fuel requirements for Australian aircraft—in effect from 8 November 2018.
The full rules are contained in Civil Aviation (Fuel Requirements) Instrument 2018.
Who do the new rules apply to?
- Pilots of Australian aircraft
- Operators of Australian aircraft
Why change the rules?
- enhance aviation safety
- remove uncertainty between rules and guidance material
- better reflect industry views and international standards for fuel requirements.
What are the main changes?
- re-introduces a fixed fuel reserve requirement
- reduces reserve requirements for day visual flight rules (VFR) for small piston or turboprop aeroplanes
- requires pilots to conduct in-flight fuel management with regular fuel quantity checks and, if required, declare Mayday Fuel
- introduces ‘additional fuel’ which simplifies the planning requirements for fuel contingencies
- more closely align Australia’s fuel rules with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards and recommended practices.
Many pilots and operators are already complying with the new rules as they have been in CASA guidelines for some time. These changes remove uncertainty by clarifying what you must legally do.
What is in-flight fuel management?
All pilots must conduct in-flight fuel management, including in-flight fuel quantity checks at regular intervals.
When conducting these checks, you may discover that you would be landing at your original planned destination without sufficient fuel, that is, your fixed fuel reserve remaining.
If this occurs, make an alternate plan to land safely with sufficient fuel at a different location than you had originally planned. Your new safe landing location will depend on your aircraft capabilities and the conditions. In some instances, it may not even be an aerodrome but could be a field.
However, if a safe landing location is not an option and you are landing with less than your fixed fuel reserve, then you must declare Mayday Fuel.
Why declare Mayday Fuel?
The Mayday Fuel declaration aims to increase safety. It alerts other airspace users to a potential fuel problem facing an aircraft in their vicinity and ensures priority is given to that aircraft to reduce the chances of an accident.
The declaration is an internationally recognised standard aligning Australia with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization that are designed to assist in the management of aviation safety risks.
Mayday Fuel is not aimed at setting conditions to prosecute pilots or operators and a declaration does not automatically mean that emergency services will be mobilised.
What is the VFR fixed fuel reserve for small piston or turboprop aeroplanes?
The fixed fuel reserve for day visual flight rules (VFR) for small piston or turboprop aeroplanes will be set as 30 minutes.
CASA had recommended a 45-minute reserve, but having considered feedback from the aviation community, this has been reduced.
The reduction to 30 minutes fixed fuel reserve is supported by the introduction of in-flight fuel management requirements and enhanced guidance material to help improve safety.
What is the additional fuel calculation?
Prior to the rule change, pilots and operators had to calculate fuel to accommodate two contingencies; engine failure and depressurisation, each with different reserve requirements.
The new rules make this calculation simpler. Now the ‘additional fuel’ calculation is based whichever of the contingencies requires the greater amount of fuel plus a reserve fuel of 15 minutes plus an approach and landing allowance.
What does this mean for AOC and Part 141 certificate holders?
The new rules will commence on 8 November 2018. From this date, you’ll need to ensure that the following changes are included in your operations manuals:
- fuel reserve values that meet or exceed the minimums set in legislation (apart from specific values which may have an operational variation)
- a requirement to conduct in-flight fuel management
- matters related to aircraft specific fuel consumption data, operating conditions and potential for deviations from planned flights.
Many operations manuals already contain these requirements.
The new rules allow AOC holders and Part 141 operators to possibly reduce unnecessary fuel carriage through operational variations to specified fuel values. This may mean savings to both operators and the environment. Guidance and advisory material (CAAP-215) which includes descriptions of the elements an operational variation to the specified fuel policy should contain.
There may also be a transition period for operators whose fuel policy has an existing variation to the specified fuel policy elements. You will have until either your AOC/certificate renewal or 12 months from the 8 November 2018 commencement date—whichever happens earlier— to incorporate the new requirements for existing operational variations in your operations manuals.
CASA will waive any charges and fees associated with the update of operations manuals—if the changes are only made to comply with the new fuel rules.
Want to know more?
Read the full rules Civil Aviation (Fuel Requirements) Instrument 2018.