The checklist procedure is:

Electric fuel pump ............. on
Mixture ............. rich
MAP ............. 15 in of Hg
RPM ............. 2300

Why the AFM says to turn on fuel pump during descent and not during climb?

  • $\begingroup$ Possiblt related: aviation.stackexchange.com/q/21993/42636 $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Oct 18, 2021 at 8:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Won't post as an answer, but the most likely reason is there was a fuel flow issue found during cert testing in the descent configuration at a low fuel level and a nose down attitude, and could result in the tank inlet becoming unported momentarily when fuel sloshes around. The boost pump is just there as insurance to restore flow to the EDP as soon as possible after such a thing happens to minimize pressure fluctuations in the system. Such flow interruptions would be tolerable on a carbureted engine that can run half a minute on float bowl contents, but not with an injected one. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Oct 18, 2021 at 13:08

3 Answers 3


AFAIK, every low-wing plane requires the boost pump to be on during takeoff, climb, descent and landing.

This is a safety measure. When you are flying low and slow, the consequences of the engine-driven fuel pump failing can be dire, so the added safety is worth a bit of extra wear on the boost pump.

During taxi, you want the boost pump off so you can detect a failure of the engine-driven pump while you’re still safely on the ground.

During cruise, you have sufficient altitude to safely turn off the boost pump and reduce wear. If the engine-driven pump fails, there is plenty of time to switch the boost pump back on and restart the engine; it may even restart on its own due to the prop windmilling.

High-wing planes generally don’t require running the boost pump (if they even have one) during these phases because gravity feed is a sufficient backup.

  • $\begingroup$ This answer, although a good one, does not address the peculiarity of the "boost" pump being requiered during descent, but not during climb. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Oct 22, 2021 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Jpe61 The DA40 POH I found says in the takeoff checklist to keep the boost pump on “until above a safe altitude”. I think that counts as a climb. And when you may be descending below a “safe altitude”, you turn it on again. My answer covers both. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Oct 22, 2021 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, the question should be fixed/amended then, as it now suggest any climb/any descent. There is difference between climb out and cruise climb, as there is cruise descent and descent to land. I only have the DA20 POH, and even that is lost 😃 $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Oct 22, 2021 at 17:34

The previous answer stating that it is standard procedure on a low-wing aircraft to turn the electric/aux fuel pump on for takeoff for safety and to turn it on for descent to prevent vapor lock during low power settings is correct.

Diamond has a bit more to say about it. Diamond's descent checklist and climb checklist both call for the electric fuel pump to be turned on to pressurize the fuel to prevent vapor lock at high altitudes.

From the Diamond DA40 Aircraft Flight Manual Normal Operating Procedures Page 4A-32:

4A.3.11 Descent

Item #4 Electrical Fuel Pump............ ON at high altitudes

CAUTION: Operation at high altitudes with the electrical fuel pump OFF may cause vapor bubbles, resulting in intermittent low fuel pressure indications, sometimes followed by high fuel flow indications."

4A.3.8 Climb

Item #8 Electrical Fuel Pump............ ON at high altitudes

CAUTION: Operation at high altitudes with the electrical fuel pump OFF may cause vapor bubbles, resulting in intermittent low fuel pressure indications, sometimes followed by high fuel flow indications.

Unless you just took off from a high altitude airport, you are not usually at a high altitude when you are turning the electric fuel pump off during the climb check. When you start descent you often are at a high altitude, so according to Diamond you would turn the fuel pump on.


The most likely reason is, that during climb, the engine will, of course be running on high revs, and so will the engine's mechanical pump. It will most likely also be operating at better efficiency. For the fuel system & engine combination in question, the engines own fuel pump is not able to ensure sufficient fuel flow (unwanted lean condition) or pressure (possibility of vapor lock) to the engine at low revs, the descent attitude may also be a factor, so the electric pump is used as a backup.

General rule in aviation is, that if a system is not necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft, it is not used to save energy and the system from wear. This does lead to a lot of switch flicking...

  • $\begingroup$ I find it very hard to believe the mechanical fuel pump can't keep up with fuel demands in any circumstances $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Oct 18, 2021 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ So do I, but since pretty much any piston powered aircraft has an electric fuel pump, and it is mentioned as an item for varying phases of flight, well, you draw the conclusions. In most cases it is there for redundancy, but the arrangement here suggests other reason than ensuring fuel flow in case the mechanical pump fails. I edited in the possibility of vapor lock, wich would fix the possible problem that while fuel flow might be sufficient, the pressure would not be high enough to keep vapor lock in the system. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Oct 18, 2021 at 12:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.