Pilot's tip of the week

Selecting Fuel Stops


Subscriber question:

"How do you select fuel stops on long trips?" - Vance M.


“Well, there are a couple of items that play into this – the first being your personal endurance. For instance, in my case a three and a half hour flight is plenty.

The second is the capability of your airplane based on the way you have it loaded. And what I mean there is most light aircraft are unable to carry a full load of passengers and full fuel, and still comply with weight and balance limitations for the airplane. If you have a full passenger load you’ll be required to depart with less than full fuel. This will limit the range of the airplane. And you’ll need to be thinking about what that range will be, especially in the case of an IFR flight where you may have to plan to a destination, then to an alternate. And upon reaching the alternate have 45 minutes of fuel available. So this may limit the distance that you will fly to your first fuel stop.

Additionally, your selection of a fuel stop will be affected by the approaches available and the weather that you expect at that particular destination at the time of your arrival.

Some items that are desirable at a fuel stop are computerized weather, courtesy car, maintenance services, also don’t overlook the operating hours of the FBO at the airport you select for a fuel stop. This is especially important if you’re arriving at the airport late in the afternoon or on a weekend. So you want to do some research into the FBOs and their capability.

You never know whether you’ll need maintenance services when you arrive at an airport and it’s always good to have availability of courtesy cars and restaurants on field.”

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