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How much reserve fuel are private and commercial aircraft required to carry by ICAO rules?

I heard that it changed recently (about a year ago) and is a little complicated. How is it calculated for a particular flight?

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It's no longer 'enough to get to your destination plus 30 minutes'? –  flyingfisch May 6 at 13:34
    
@flyingfisch one source I looked at also required you to get to your alt and then make a missed approach + 30 minutes –  ratchet freak May 6 at 13:37
    
@ratchetfreak ah ok, the ground school course I took a couple years ago said enough to get to the destination, plus 30 minutes. Of course, things may have changed, and/or the ground school course simplified the rules. –  flyingfisch May 6 at 13:46
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@flyingfisch and different rules if the nearest diversion field is more than 30 minutes plus circle time away, and at night, and and and... –  jwenting May 6 at 14:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The following includes the changes you allude to (which were proposed in ICAO State Letter SP 59/4.1-11/8 on June 30, 2011).

Commercial Flights

Per ICAO Annex 6, Part I, section 4.3.6 "Fuel Requirements," airplanes should calculate their required fuel quantity as follows (summary; see below for actual ICAO text):

  • Taxi fuel
  • Trip fuel (to reach intended destination)
  • Contingency fuel (higher of 5% of "trip fuel" or 5 minutes of holding flight)
  • Destination alternate fuel (to fly a missed and reach an alternate)
  • Final reserve fuel (45 minutes of holding flight for reciprocating engines, 30 minutes for jets)
  • Additional fuel (if needed to guarantee ability to reach an alternate with an engine failure or at lower altitude due to a pressurization loss)
  • Discretionary fuel (if the pilot in command wants it)

General Aviation

For general aviation, ICAO Annex 6 Part II, section 2.2.3.6 "Fuel and oil supply" requires:

  • For IFR, enough fuel to reach destination, then alternate (if required), plus 45 minutes
  • For day VFR, enough fuel to reach destination plus 30 minutes
  • For night VFR, enough fuel to reach destination plus 45 minutes

ICAO Annex 6 Part I

From the ninth edition:

4.3.6.3 The pre-flight calculation of usable fuel required shall include:

a) taxi fuel, which shall be the amount of fuel expected to be consumed before take-off;

b) trip fuel, which shall be the amount of fuel required to enable the aeroplane to fly from take-off, or the point of in-flight re-planning, until landing at the destination aerodrome taking into account the operating conditions of 4.3.6.2 b);

c) contingency fuel, which shall be the amount of fuel required to compensate for unforeseen factors. It shall be five per cent of the planned trip fuel or of the fuel required from the point of in-flight re-planning based on the consumption rate used to plan the trip fuel but, in any case, shall not be lower than the amount required to fly for five minutes at holding speed at 450 m (1 500 ft) above the destination aerodrome in standard conditions;

Note.— Unforeseen factors are those which could have an influence on the fuel consumption to the destination aerodrome, such as deviations of an individual aeroplane from the expected fuel consumption data, deviations from forecast meteorological conditions, extended taxi times before take-off, and deviations from planned routings and/or cruising levels.

d) destination alternate fuel, which shall be:

  1. where a destination alternate aerodrome is required, the amount of fuel required to enable the aeroplane to:
    i) perform a missed approach at the destination aerodrome;
    ii) climb to the expected cruising altitude; iii) fly the expected routing;
    iv) descend to the point where the expected approach is initiated; and
    v) conduct the approach and landing at the destination alternate aerodrome; or

  2. where two destination alternate aerodromes are required, the amount of fuel, as calculated in 4.3.6.3 d) 1), required to enable the aeroplane to proceed to the destination alternate aerodrome which requires the greater amount of alternate fuel; or

  3. where a flight is operated without a destination alternate aerodrome, the amount of fuel required to enable the aeroplane to fly for 15 minutes at holding speed at 450 m (1 500 ft) above destination aerodrome elevation in standard conditions; or

  4. where the aerodrome of intended landing is an isolated aerodrome:
    i) for a reciprocating engine aeroplane, the amount of fuel required to fly for 45 minutes plus 15 per cent of the flight time planned to be spent at cruising level, including final reserve fuel, or two hours, whichever is less; or
    ii) for a turbine-engined aeroplane, the amount of fuel required to fly for two hours at normal cruise consumption above the destination aerodrome, including final reserve fuel;

e) final reserve fuel, which shall be the amount of fuel calculated using the estimated mass on arrival at the destination alternate aerodrome, or the destination aerodrome when no destination alternate aerodrome is required:

  1. for a reciprocating engine aeroplane, the amount of fuel required to fly for 45 minutes, under speed and altitude conditions specified by the State of the Operator; or

  2. for a turbine-engined aeroplane, the amount of fuel required to fly for 30 minutes at holding speed at 450 m (1 500 ft) above aerodrome elevation in standard conditions;

f) additional fuel, which shall be the supplementary amount of fuel required if the minimum fuel calculated in accordance with 4.3.6.3 b), c), d) and e) is not sufficient to:

  1. allow the aeroplane to descend as necessary and proceed to an alternate aerodrome in the event of engine failure or loss of pressurization, whichever requires the greater amount of fuel based on the assumption that such a failure occurs at the most critical point along the route;
    i) fly for 15 minutes at holding speed at 450 m (1 500 ft) above aerodrome elevation in standard conditions; and
    ii) make an approach and landing;

  2. allow an aeroplane engaged in EDTO to comply with the EDTO critical fuel scenario as established by the State of the Operator;

  3. meet additional requirements not covered above;

Note 1.— Fuel planning for a failure that occurs at the most critical point along a route (4.3.6.3 f) 1)) may place the aeroplane in a fuel emergency situation based on 4.3.7.2.

Note 2.— Guidance on EDTO critical fuel scenarios is contained in Attachment D;

g) discretionary fuel, which shall be the extra amount of fuel to be carried at the discretion of the pilot-in-command.

ICAO Annex 6 Part II

2.2.3.6 Fuel and oil supply

A flight shall not be commenced unless, taking into account both the meteorological conditions and any delays that are expected in flight, the aeroplane carries sufficient fuel and oil to ensure that it can safely complete the flight. The amount of fuel to be carried must permit:

a) when the flight is conducted in accordance with the instrument flight rules and a destination alternate aerodrome is not required in accordance with 2.2.3.5, flight to the aerodrome of intended landing, and after that, for at least 45 minutes at normal cruising altitude; or

b) when the flight is conducted in accordance with the instrument flight rules and a destination alternate aerodrome is required, flight from the aerodrome of intended landing to an alternate aerodrome, and after that, for at least 45 minutes at normal cruising altitude; or

c) when the flight is conducted in accordance with the visual flight rules by day, flight to the aerodrome of intended landing, and after that, for at least 30 minutes at normal cruising altitude; or

d) when the flight is conducted in accordance with the visual flight rules by night, flight to the aerodrome of intended landing and thereafter for at least 45 minutes at normal cruising altitude.

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Fuel & oil (propeller –driven A/c)

A) When a destination alternate is required

B) When destination aerodrome is VMC /alternate not required

C) When a destination is isolated and no suitable destination alternate is available

i. Fuel to destination ………. A (includes one approach and a missed approach)

ii. + fuel is specified diversion ……….B

iii. + 45 mts i.e A+B+45 mts

i. Fuel to destination …. A

ii. +45 mts i.e A+45 mts

i. Fuel to destination …. A

ii. + 45 mts+15 5 of cruising time or 2 hrs ….B

which is less

i.e A+B

Fuel & oil (Turbo jets)

A. When a destination alternate is required

Fuel destination including an approach and a missed approach ...A

Fuel to alternate aerodrome as specified in flights plan …B

  • 30 mts holding at 1500’ at holding speed above alternate aerodrome in ISA

  • Approach

  • land

Additional contingency fuel as specified by operator …C

i.e A+B + 30 mts holding at 1500’ +approach + landing fuel +C

B. When a destination alternate is not required because destination is VMC

Fuel to destination + 30 mts holding fuel at 1500’ above the aerodrome destination at holding speed in ISA …. B

Additional contingency fuel as specified by operator …C

i.e A+B+C

C. When destination is isolated and no suitable destination alternate aerodrome is available

Fuel to destination + 2 hrs fuel at normal fuel cruise consumption …. B

i.e A+B

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