Is United / Continental putting you at risk with fuel burn (43 times) with 757 from Europe?

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Take a look at tonight’s piece from Brian Williams NBC news!

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  1. Mr. WIlliams sure does not provide a lot of detail! Let’s remember that stopping for a little gas is a SMART pilot. The unscheduled stop may cost the company a bit more than expected, but it is still the SAFE (and Legal) thing to do. And, running a nearly full 757 on the North Atlantic route *and stopping for gas* is p robably still less expensive than a much larger twin aisle at 35-40% capacity. Pilots and dispatchers just don’t make those choices by accident! What the heck is wrong with stopping for gas if the unususal head winds demand it? Once again, the ill-informed media blows it!

  2. Wouldn’t it be the exact opposite? If they are stopping for fuel, they obviously are taking safety precautions. Continental was maybe risking safety four years back when they routinely were declaring fuel emergencies headed into EWR, but that has changed, now they stop for fuel instead of risking an emergency.

  3. @ Cook – you make good points but this was talked about a bunch when it was announced that 757’s would make this run. IMO I would rather be on a bird that has the legs to make the trip. Not to mention the missed connections due to gas-n-go!

  4. There was a long article about this in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. I am with Rene, they should simply use a plane capable of flying the route routinely. The stats I read indicated over 10% of flights required a fuel stop. Given it is always unscheduled, that is pretty stupid

  5. Well, what do you mean by risk? If you mean risk of arriving late, missing a connection, etc., then yea United is putting you at risk. If you’re talking about risk of the plane running out of fuel, I think Brian William addresses that (whether or not he realizes it). At the end of the clip, he mentions they had to stop to meet minimum fuel reserves. I’m pretty sure the minimum reserve level would allow a plane to fly quite a distance still, so the plane probably is nowhere near running out of fuel.

  6. They have similar issues on the BOS to west coast flights. Why did they chose a plane that has a good chance not to make it with out refueling? Saving gas, costs, dumb spreadsheet error? I don’t fly those Continental route, plane is not be enough for my liking.

  7. Frankly, these unscheduled fuel stops do not happen all that often when you figure the flights operate year round, and it is only the last two weeks with unusually bad winds (<10% of flights year round). The probability and time impact of the stop is somewhat accounted for in the block time, as gas-n-go's can take as little as 30 minutes from touchdown to takeoff.

    You say you want a plane that has the legs, but then the public does not buy enough tickets to be profitable, and the public does not choose itineraries that connect. IF your so concerned, fly from your city to JFK to LHR then to another city. its a pain, and the likelihood of delay or missed connection is just as high as the probability of needing a fuel stop

    I agree it is annoying, but frankly, its not as bad as the outrage it is getting.

  8. OK none of you have been on these flights so lets talk from experience. I have flown back from scandinavia 33 times since March 2010 on a 757 aircraft. I have divered 3 times to Canada, Goose Creek, for a gas and go. On each of those flights we had a killer head wind and ground speed at sometimes under 500 MPH or whatever the true unit as seen on the flight map screen.

    Stopping for gas was not a treat but better to be safe than sorry.

    PS I have seen up to 6 aircraft on the ground on those days and I do rememeber a Delta or two.

  9. @ Steve – txs for the great data points. So 10% of the time you ran out of gas. I know DL has put in a few 757’s as well on Europe routes. Were the DL birds you say 757’s also? Again thanks for the input and for reading the blog! Rene

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