Pilot's tip of the week

Have a “Fuel Alternate”


Subscriber question:

“I landed at my planned fuel stop the other day only to discover they were completely out of 100LL. I was lucky that I had enough gas to reach another airport—barely. I know I should land with 1 hour of gas remaining, but how do I factor in that fuel might not be available?" — Kay F.


“With the current supply chain issues and high fuel prices, this seems to be happening more often lately. I’d suggest borrowing from the IFR rules for alternate requirements, even on perfect VFR days. Carry enough fuel to fly to your destination, then divert to a viable alternative—and still have your personal minimum fuel remaining when you arrive at that backup fuel stop. That personal minimum must of course be at least the VFR legal minimum of 30 minutes in the daytime or 45 minutes at night, but a more conservative one-hour reserve is a great idea.

When there’s another airport right next door to your destination, it’s no problem. You might need an extra 10 minutes of fuel on top of your one-hour reserve. But if your fuel alternate is another 40 minutes of flight time beyond your planned fuel stop, you should budget to arrive at your planned fuel stop with 1:40 of fuel. That may seem like a lot, but anything less means you might compromise your personal minimum fuel on landing.

And don’t rely solely on your EFB’s information about fuel availability and price. That information is usually submitted either by pilots or FBO managers. There’s no guarantee that it’s up to date. If you choose to go out of your way to tanker up with cheap fuel, only to find out it’s not available, you might be stuck for a while.

That is, unless you planned an alternate.”

Have you ever landed for fuel, been unable to get fuel, and chosen to depart again with less fuel than you normally would?

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