You are on page 1of 9

Minimum Hold Fuel Calculation

In the course of conducting ground school and flight sim training, it has come to the department’s
attention that there is some confusion when considering minimum hold fuel (or “bingo” fuel). This
information letter discusses the basics of calculation, provides some scenario-based examples, and
discusses some Threat and Error Management techniques.

OBJECTIVE
The purpose of this informational memo is not to define new SOPs for hold fuel calculations. This is a tool
that can be used by instructors when discussing how to calculate minimum hold fuel. The information is
designed for instructors to better understand what goes into planning for diversion from holds, and to
assist in briefings/debriefings during training events.

DEFINITIONS
Minimum Hold Fuel: The minimum amount of fuel required for a crew to continue from a hold to the
destination. When fuel on board reaches the calculated Minimum Hold Fuel number, the crew should
divert to their planned alternate or diversion airport. The formula we use at Piedmont for planning
minimum hold fuel (also referred to as “Bingo Fuel”) is B.A.R.:

Burn to Destination + Burn to Alternate + 30 minutes of Reserve fuel.

Minimum Fuel: [FOM 8.16.2] This is a declaration to ATC by the flight crew. It indicates that an aircraft’s
fuel supply has reached a state where, upon reaching the destination, it can accept little or no delay. This
is not an emergency situation but merely indicates an emergency situation is possible should any undue
delay occur.

NOTE: While our FOM does not indicate WHEN to declare “Minimum Fuel,” such guidance generally
falls along the following lines: “Declare ‘minimum fuel’ when, in your best judgment, any additional
delay will cause you to burn into your reserve fuel.”

Emergency Fuel: [FOM 8.16.3] This is an emergency declaration to ATC by the flight crew. If the projected
fuel supply suggests that landing will be made with less than 30 minutes of fuel remaining and/or the
need for traffic priority to ensure a safe landing, the crew will declare an emergency.

NOTE: Being that our FOM states we must make a “Mayday Fuel Emergency” call when we have less than 30
minutes of fuel remaining, it may be considered prudent to calculate Minimum Hold Fuel as:

Burn to Destination + Burn to Alternate + 45 minutes of reserve fuel.


CALCULATING MINIMUM HOLD FUEL
How do we arrive at the fuel numbers to calculate Minimum Holding Fuel? There are a multitude of
techniques available to crewmembers but here are a few best practices. It is important to note that this
calculation is merely a PLAN. Vectors, weather deviations, and variable winds will alter the actual fuel burn.

The purpose of planning is to develop a “base-line” required fuel from present position to destination, to
alternate, plus reserve. It is NOT an exercise uses to calculate the precise fuel burn. Using the planned fuel
information from the dispatch release is the most accurate information available in the flight deck to
calculate the fuel burn numbers.

Before discussing the method to calculate minimum hold fuel, a review of what the various dispatch
release fuel “categories” represent is necessary.

DISPATCH FUEL PLANNING

B/O: The “Burn Off” fuel category includes:

 500 pounds for takeoff


 Climb from takeoff runway elevation to TOC using Flight Level Change [FLC] at CLB thrust
(A/I-OFF)
 Cruise from TOC to TOD at Max Cruise Speed
 Descent from TOD to Runway elevation at idle thrust
 400 pounds is added for approach and landing (only applies if there is no Alternate)

ALTN: The Alternate category includes:

 Max Cruise Speed at planned altitude


 500 pounds is added for missed approach at destination

RESV: The Reserve category includes:

 LRC (Long Range Cruise) for 45 minutes based on last CRUISE altitude.

HOLD: The Hold category includes:

 200 KIAS holding speed at 2,000 feet MSL


DETERMINING FUEL BURN TO DESTINATION
1.) The crew can look at the “expanded flight plan” on the dispatch release if they are holding over a
fix on their flight plan. Subtract TBRN (Total Burn) from the planned B/O (Burn off). This will give
the crew the planned burn from their present position to the destination.

Remember this number includes Cruise to TOD, then descent at idle thrust. 400 pounds of fuel is
added to this burn number by dispatch if there is no alternate filed on the flight plan.

2.) If the crew is holding over a fix that is not on the flight plan, utilize the Cruise Performance charts
in the Aircraft Performance Manual. Use the altitude that the aircraft is holding at and the
distance to the airport to approximate a burn to destination. Remember 400 pounds for approach
and landing is not included in the Performance Manual burn numbers, it may be prudent to add
400 pounds as necessary.

DETERMINING FUEL BURN TO ALTERNATE


1.) The fuel burn to alternate is on the dispatch release.
2.) If the alternate airport has changed enroute, use the Cruise Performance charts in the Aircraft
Performance Manual to determine the burn from DESTINATION (KPHL in the above example) to
the new alternate.

DETERMINING 30 MINUTES OF RESERVE


Our dispatch releases plan 45 minutes of reserve fuel. Simply multiply the reserve fuel burn by 0.66 to
approximate 30 minutes of fuel. However, being that we must declare a “Fuel Emergency” when we have
less than 30 minutes of fuel on board, it may be prudent for the PIC to consider “Reserve Fuel” as the
published 45 minutes for safety.

Keep in mind, this reserve fuel is calculated based on Long Range Cruise (LRC) burn at the last cruise
altitude.

SELECTING A FINAL MINIMUM HOLD FUEL NUMBER


Clearly there are many factors which affect the minimum hold fuel number. It is important to highlight
that using the BAR technique and numbers from the dispatch release, the actual Bingo fuel number will
not be based on actual/current conditions. Crews should adjust the “bingo” fuel number based on various
conditions and variable factors. Here are a few to consider:

 Changes in the winds aloft.


 Cruising earlier at lower altitudes than planned on the release.
 Icing conditions.
 Vectors, weather deviations, speed changes.
 Increasing “Reserve” fuel to be the amount desired upon landing at the alternate.

A multitude of factors may present themselves. It is important to highlight the necessity of using the
Threat and Error Management model to increase the calculated minimum fuel number as necessary. The
key barriers (in approximate order of importance) are:

 Dispatchers
 ATC
 PIREPS
 ATIS, METAR, TAFs
 Aircraft Performance Manual
 FMS Fuel Flow calculator

COORDINATING WITH DISPATCH


It is important for the crew to come to an agreement on the Minimum Holding Fuel number prior to
coordinating with dispatch. The purpose is to validate that BOTH the crew and dispatch calculations are
congruent.
MINIMUM HOLD FUEL EXAMPLES
EXAMPLE 1: HOLDING WITH A FILED ALTERNATE
Aircraft is holding over Flat Rock (FAK) VOR inbound for Philadelphia (KPHL) with 4579 lbs. of fuel on
board. There is a filed alternate of Allentown (KABE).

The crew should calculate the Minimum Hold Fuel using the BAR formula:

Burn + Alternate + Reserve.

 The Burn from FAX to KPHL can be determined by subtracting the TBRN over FAK from the
planned total BURN.
 The Burn to Alternate from KPHL to KABE is planned on the dispatch release
 The 30 minutes of Reserve is calculated by multiplying the 45 minutes of reserve fuel by 0.66.

Burn to KPHL: 917 lbs.


PLUS the burn from KPHL to KABE: 642 lbs.
PLUS 30 minutes of fuel: 1168 lbs.
Minimum Hold Fuel: 2727 lbs.

The captain should divert to Allentown prior to fuel on board reaching 2727 lbs of fuel.

This allows the crew to continue to KPHL, go missed and fly to KABE, and land with a minimum of 30
minutes of fuel onboard.
EXAMPLE 2: HOLDING WITH AN AMENDED ALTERNATE
As in the previous example, the aircraft is holding over Flat Rock (FAK) VOR inbound for Philadelphia
(KPHL) with 4579 lbs. of fuel on board. There is was no filed alternate. KPHL, however, is holding due to
unforcast fog, triggering a hold due to flow. Dispatch has added an alternate of Richmond (KRIC) because
it is close to the holding fix of FAK. We will discover that this is poor planning because the above formula
still applies:

Burn to KPHL: 917 lbs.


PLUS the burn from KPHL to KRIC: 1583 lbs.
PLUS 30 minutes of fuel: 1168 lbs.
3668 lbs.

The captain should divert to Richmond prior to fuel on board reaching 3668 lbs of fuel.

Keep in mind that just because an alternate is close to the holding fix, doesn’t mean you can hold longer.
In most cases it actually increases the Minimum Holding Fuel number because the crew must account for
flying from the DESTINATION back to the ALTERNATE. Clearly an alternate of KABE would have been
more beneficial to lowering the Minimum Holding Fuel number.

EXAMPLE 3: HOLDING WITH NO ALTERNATE


The aircraft is holding over Flat Rock (FAK) VOR inbound for Philadelphia (KPHL) with 4579 lbs. of fuel on
board. There is was no filed alternate. KPHL is still VMC, but holding due to high traffic volume. No
alternate is required.

Burn to KPHL: 917 lbs.


PLUS 30 minutes of fuel: 1168 lbs.
2085 lbs.

The captain should divert another airport prior to fuel on board reaching 2085 lbs of fuel. But which
airport? This should be planned by the crew and dispatch. Perhaps KRIC in this case, but keep in mind that
this is NOT an alternate, merely a diversion plan. If the aircraft proceeds to KPHL with 2085 lbs. of fuel on
board, the crew will only have 30 minutes of fuel touching down in KPHL.

While never required, it may be prudent to brief a plan if the aircraft goes missed at the destination
airport. It is not legally required to add an alternate in this case, but options should be discussed prior to
entering the terminal area if possible.
TEM CONSIDERATIONS
The examples above deal only with the legality of fuel planning. It is imperative that crews filter their
decision-making process through the Threat and Error Management model when deciding when and
where they will divert to. There is no perfect solution to every situation, but it is important to identify that
there is a significant threat of landing with less than reserve fuel whenever holding instructions are issued

Here are a few additional considerations that may have a bearing on determining minimum hold fuel:

 Our planned Reserve fuel does not take into consideration the approach or go around burn. It is
merely a calculation of “over-head” fuel on board the aircraft. During a Go-Around the aircraft will
burn approximately 100 lbs. of fuel per minute. During approach the aircraft will burn
approximately 39 pounds of fuel per minute. There is no “hard and fast” calculation but 450 lbs.
for an approach and go-around is a good approximation.

 The “bingo” fuel calculation only leaves the crew with 30 minutes of reserve fuel upon landing at
their alternate (or destination if there is no alternate). Any further delays and/or vectoring will
result in landing with less than 30 minutes, e.g. “Fuel Emergency.” Using a reserve of 45 minutes
may be prudent.

 When the aircraft will land with less than 45 minutes of planned reserve fuel, consideration should
be made to declare “Minimum Fuel.” While this does not provide priority, it signals to ATC that
the aircraft cannot accept any further delay. “Minimum Fuel” may even be declared during climb
out if the flight is filed to land near min reserve fuel.

 Weather is dynamic. Keep an eye on alternate and destination weather. Dispatch and ATC can
assist in identifying convective activity enroute that may require deviations. Anytime there is
convective activity, consider the high likelihood that additional fuel may be required for altitude
or lateral deviations.

 It is critical to remember that the Minimum Holding Fuel number is merely a plan. It is based on
the dispatcher’s flight planning at the time of departure, not on current conditions. The flight crew
is expected to modify the minimum holding number as necessary to account for numerous
variables. This is based solely on the discretion of the flight crew to use the available resources at
their disposal to determine a reasonable “bingo” fuel number.

 The purpose of TEM is to avoid an “undesired aircraft state.” Landing with less than reserve fuel,
while not illegal, is undesired. The philosophy behind minimum hold fuel planning is to provide
the crew with a tool to avoid landing in a fuel emergency, not to provide an SOP for hold fuel
calculation.