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How do you check the fuel on preflight


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We use dip sticks. No reason not to.

 

 

Speaking of a 206. I've heard through a friend that his cousin is flying tours out west somewhere and their fuel gauge has been broken for over a year. I'll see if I can ask, but how would one check the fuel on that assuming a flat out broken gauge? Top off every time?

 

That dude is an idiot and you should absolutely not follow his lead. He's lucky he hasn't run out of fuel, assuming he hasn't already.

 

What do the FARs say about required equipment? Specifically: about fuel gauges.

 

Anyone here operate under an MEL? If so, what does it say about a broken fuel gauge? You still allowed to fly?

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How does everyone visually check their fuel on preflight? I've been noticing the gauges have been slightly erratic, with them bouncing around maybe +/- 1/6th of a tank. The checklist calls for you to

To answer the original poster's question, use a dip stick. Use one that is at least 6 inches taller than the tank so it absolutely WILL NOT fall in. Whoever said they have spent a good deal of time

I (mostly) fly 2 machines.. We use most of the fuel quantity each flight although we don’t top-off due to weight limitations and thus can’t see the fuel level through the filler pipe. Even so, I’m t

 

 

Does anyone have any recommendations of a LED torch that you like? This sounds like a good first step, but don't want to get one that could be hazardous if dropped in the tank. I think I saw someone mentioned a sealed LED light with the addition of a strap.

 

I have a Fenix E05 attached to my keys. Great because I always have it with me, and my keys are too big to fall into the tanks. It is waterproof, very very bright (about on par with a 2-C cell Maglite!) and it runs on a single AAA battery. $25 or so, and safe to use around fuel vapour.

 

You should be using a flashlight for your preflight anyhow. It helps to focus your attention on what you should be looking at, besides there are many parts on the Robbies that you simply can't see properly without a light.

 

Inside the R22 main tank is a rib with big round holes, you can use these holes as a guide to estimate the fuel level.

You'll also be able to see if the fuel gage float assemblies are ok, and look for possible gunk floating around the sumps.

Edited by lelebebbel
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We use dip sticks. No reason not to.

 

 

 

That dude is an idiot and you should absolutely not follow his lead. He's lucky he hasn't run out of fuel, assuming he hasn't already.

 

What do the FARs say about required equipment? Specifically: about fuel gauges.

 

Anyone here operate under an MEL? If so, what does it say about a broken fuel gauge? You still allowed to fly?

 

I'm curious to your second point that if an operator is breaking the FAR's/Law would you should do as a pilot.

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Yes it was clear tubing and the stick was marked right next to it, accurate to the gallon provided the aircraft was on a fairly level surface. We would then add the needed fuel, give it a few mins to equalize across the tanks and restick it and confirm the new amount. I've never seen any other Robbie operators using that style, but it really was a great tool.

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Boys, there is a lot of crap that goes on "out there" in aviation. If you're planning a career in this industry you'd better get used to it.

 

DontCallMeShirley noted:


Speaking of a 206. I've heard through a friend that his cousin is flying tours out west somewhere and their fuel gauge has been broken for over a year. I'll see if I can ask, but how would one check the fuel on that assuming a flat out broken gauge? Top off every time?

 

Some of the 206B's I flew at PHI had sticks in the tanks with markings on them that you could see with a flashlight. If so equipped, then an electric fuel gage might not be absolutely necessary, except that you'd never know if you developed a fuel leak in flight (yeah, like that ever happens in a 206).

 

If you were *only* hopping rides, and your longest ride was 30 minutes, and before takeoff you could look at the stick-in-the-tank and visually verify that you had at least 25 gallons (15 for the ride and 10 for reserve) then what's the prob? If all I'm doing is local flights that start and end at the same place, then I don't need to be hauling around an hour or more of "extra" gas.

 

REMEMBER! The FAA only requires that you *takeoff* with such-and-such amount of fuel. As long as you can verify that amount before takeoff, you're good to go and nobody cares how much fuel is in the tank when you land as long as the engine is still running.

 

Anyways, Ridethisbike then added his two cents:


That dude is an idiot and you should absolutely not follow his lead. He's lucky he hasn't run out of fuel, assuming he hasn't already.

 

What do the FARs say about required equipment? Specifically: about fuel gauges.

 

Idiot, eh? Okay, first of all, what *do* the regs say about fuel gauges? Well, 91.205(9) says we have to have one. Seems simple. Doesn't say it has to be electric - old airplanes used to have a float in the tank with a protruding wire that was visible to the pilot. Ahh, but can it be inoperative?

 

FAR 91.213 does seem to allow it.

 

(d) Except for operations conducted in accordance with paragraph "a" or "c" of this section, a person may takeoff an aircraft in operations conducted under this part with inoperative instruments and equipment without an approved Minimum Equipment List provided—

(snip)

 

(4) A determination is made by a pilot, who is certificated and appropriately rated under part 61 of this chapter, or by a person, who is certificated and appropriately rated to perform maintenance on the aircraft, that the inoperative instrument or equipment does not constitute a hazard to the aircraft.

 

Hmm. Now, this assumes that for one thing the tour outfit in question is operating under FAR part 136 with a 91.147 Letter of Authorization, and for another that the 206 in question doesn't have an MEL assigned to it..

 

However, if the outfit in question is a bonafide part-135 operator, then they WILL have to go by the 206 MEL because one has certainly been developed for that make/model. It should be noted that ALL items listed in an MEL have limited amounts of time that they can be deferred. Just writing something up as inoperative per the MEL does not mean it can be inoperative indefinitely.

 

So. There is supposedly a guy flying around in a 206 hopping rides with a broke-dick fuel gauge. Legal? Err....maybe...depending. Smart? Safe? Maybe yes, maybe no. I'm not there, so I won't say.

 

I think the main point is: One way or the other, know how much fuel you have before you depart.

 

 

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You missed a crucial part of 91.213 NR

 

(d) Except for operations conducted in accordance with paragraph (a) or © of this section, a person may takeoff an aircraft in operations conducted under this part with inoperative instruments and equipment without an approved Minimum Equipment List provided

(2) The inoperative instruments and equipment are not

(i) Part of the VFR-day type certification instruments and equipment prescribed in the applicable airworthiness regulations under which the aircraft was type certificated

 

 

I'm assuming the 206 in question was normal category. If so, it was type certificated under part 27

 

27.1305: Powerplant Instruments

 

The following are the required powerplant instruments:

 

(d) A fuel quantity indicator, for each fuel tank.

 

 

 

The CHT gauge discussion taught me that trick.

 

Anyways, I'm not calling the guy an idiot for flying "blind" like that for the first few flights as long as he fueled accordingly (top them off or put in the known quantity required, plus a bit more just in case), but to do it for a YEAR?! That's dumb. We all know sh!t happens, right? So what happens if he springs a fuel leak in flight? Had his fuel gauge been working properly he might have been able to spot it before his low fuel light came on OR exhausted his supply of go go juice.

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Yeah, except...

 

The Bell 206 was actually not certified under FAR 27 but rather the quaint Civil Aeronautics Regulations Part 6 ("CAR 6"). And yes, according to CAR 6.604(a)(1) a fuel quantity indicator *is* required. Even back then.

 

However! The fuel gauge *is* MEL-able, if you have an MEL. Not for a year, obviously, but with certain restrictions it can be deferred if broken.

 

And so, like the CHT gauge discussion, it's probably arguable on the local level with the feds and it would need a ruling from the FAA's legal department in Washington D.C. before some people would be persuaded either way.

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The Bell 206 was actually not certified under FAR 27 but rather the quaint Civil Aeronautics Regulations Part 6 ("CAR 6"). And yes, according to CAR 6.604(a)(1) a fuel quantity indicator *is* required. Even back then.

 

However! The fuel gauge *is* MEL-able, if you have an MEL. Not for a year, obviously, but with certain restrictions it can be deferred if broken.

 

And so, like the CHT gauge discussion, it's probably arguable on the local level with the feds and it would need a ruling from the FAA's legal department in Washington D.C. before some people would be persuaded either way.

 

Learn something new every day (certified CAR).

 

It could be argued, yes, but realistically it's not worth it. There's only three possible problems: Sending unit is bad, short in the wiring somewhere or the gauge itself is inop. Wouldn't take a competent mechanic very long to isolate the problem and either fix it or order the parts.

 

The risk that the pilot/operator took on for something that could have been fixed within a matter of a couple hours is ridiculous.

 

 

 

Anyways, that is neither here nor there. Like you said, know how much fuel you have before you depart. Dip stick, flash light, putting in known quantities. All acceptable methods. Just remember 1* (one ass to risk)

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And so, like the CHT gauge discussion, it's probably arguable on the local level with the feds and it would need a ruling from the FAA's legal department in Washington D.C. before some people would be persuaded either way.

 

 

No, not arguable. It's required under its type certification, and it's required by the regulation.

 

Assuming relief under a minimum equipment list, then the MEL category spells out the maximum period that the item may be deferred.

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I said "arguable on the LOCAL level." I know what the tour operator's plan is. I don't know who they are or where they are or which ship they're flying, but I know what their plan is:

 

If the feds arrive and happen to look in the ship while it's running and happen to notice that the fuel gauge is not operable and say something about it, the pilot's response will be, "Yeah, it just broke. Soon as I shut 'er down I'm gonna write 'er up." And the fed will nod and go, "Okay."

 

Position and anti-collision light bulbs "...must've just burned out because they certainly were working on preflight!"

 

Chip lights always light up on short-final.

 

That transponder was working this morning.

 

 

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Guest pokey

To answer the original poster's question, use a dip stick. Use one that is at least 6 inches taller than the tank so it absolutely WILL NOT fall in. Whoever said they have spent a good deal of time fishing out dip sticks is dealing with some special people. .

 

Raises paw as the "whoever". And they were brand new airplane student pilots, not all that 'special'. And the ones i fished out? under normal cirmustances-they were nearly impossible to drop into tank--i figure they got them wedged in there somehow & then were to afraid to tell someone what they had done, so they bent it to "hide the evidence". And thank-you for calling them "special"

 

OR

 

did you ever see those horseshoes, that had 2 links of chain, were welded together and had about a 2 inch diameter ring in the middle? IF you knew the trick?--you could get the ring off, and back on. And then there were the bent nails that were impossible to take apart---unless you knew the trick too. OH and rubics cube !!

Edited by pokey
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Raises paw as the "whoever". And they were brand new airplane student pilots, not all that 'special'. And the ones i fished out? under normal cirmustances-they were nearly impossible to drop into tank--i figure they got them wedged in there somehow & then were to afraid to tell someone what they had done, so they bent it to "hide the evidence". And thank-you for calling them "special"

 

OR

 

did you ever see those horseshoes, that had 2 links of chain, were welded together and had about a 2 inch diameter ring in the middle? IF you knew the trick?--you could get the ring off, and back on. And then there were the bent nails that were impossible to take apart---unless you knew the trick too. OH and rubics cube !!

What material were these dip-sticks? The ones I use are wooden dowels. Kinda hard to 'bend' those, and they are long enough that they are virtually impossible to get them stuck in the tank unless you are TRYING to. That scenario would bring up a whole OTHER topic. One fit for it's very own thread, even!

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It's nice to be able to stick a tank if possible but as stated you can't do that in a 206 with the range extenders. In many operations it's just not practice to constantly stick the tanks. In the gulf we fill the tanks by the gauge or top it off. I haven't seen anyone stick tanks since school. In the Robbies we just tapped on the side or stuck it.

 

There's an old saying though: "The only time you can have too much fuel is if you're on fire."

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What material were these dip-sticks?

One fit for it's very own thread, even!

 

these were clear acrylic hollow tubing, you hold your finger over the top and dip the tank.

 

Lets start a new thread then ! What shall we call it?---seems like you have a title in mind. I can't wait----on edge of my seat already

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How does everyone visually check their fuel on preflight?

 

I use the gauge..

 

I’d have a problem with anyone who was attempting to stick anything into my fuel tank, other than fuel…..

 

I haven’t heard of any incidents of a forced landing due to an incorrect gauge reading. That said, history would show, the gauge isn’t the problem, it’s the pilot…….

 

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I use the gauge..

 

I’d have a problem with anyone who was attempting to stick anything into my fuel tank, other than fuel…..

 

I haven’t heard of any incidents of a forced landing due to an incorrect gauge reading. That said, history would show, the gauge isn’t the problem, it’s the pilot…….

 

 

Well my Hillers gauge would read 1/4 when it was empty...ask me how we found that out...

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I use the gauge..

 

I’d have a problem with anyone who was attempting to stick anything into my fuel tank, other than fuel…..

 

I haven’t heard of any incidents of a forced landing due to an incorrect gauge reading. That said, history would show, the gauge isn’t the problem, it’s the pilot…….

 

 

I know a very good, diligent and cautious pilot who flew his usual assigned aircraft to fuel exhaustion after the gauge failed. PIC departed light and topped off, gauge seemed to indicate normally with a very light fuel burn, needle falling slowly in the last half of the tank, attributed to low power and fuel demands. The PIC got about 5 minutes past book endurance fuel when it flamed out...

After the fact, the PIC admitted it was an unrealistic fuel burn and reserve calculation. Respect for the a useful reserve shows up time and again in fuel exhaustion incidents. One can make considerable mistakes in fuel aboard and endurance without an issue if you the engine is running wen you land. That's the silver bullet- reserve!

The regulatory 20 minute reserve is too thin for me to plan with in an aircraft or aircraft with which I'm not completely familiar, at least 30 minutes reserve...

Edited by Wally
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If the gauge is malfunctioning, will it effect when the low fuel light comes on, or does that work off of something else?

 

In the 300, it has a seperate sensor in the bottom of the tank, totally independant of the fuel gage, is it set to lite at 2 gallons remaining. I like to figure the 300 at 15 gallons/hour ( but you may get as many as 12). Either way you only have 8 or 10 minutes of fuel left. I am sure most other ships are similar in design, but the fuel remaing will vary--consult your maintenance department.

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If the gauge is malfunctioning, will it effect when the low fuel light comes on, or does that work off of something else?

 

That depends on the aircraft. The requirement for an independent low fuel warning under Part 27 and Part 29 didn’t come into effect until 1988 by amendment. So, your low fuel warning may or may not be independent. It was up to the manufacturer prior to 1988.

 

For example, the Astar model B, B1, and BA had a float type electrical resistance fuel gauging system. The low fuel warning system relied upon that same float to activate the low-fuel light.

 

If you remember, the float moved up and down inside a tube and the most common problem was it sometime would hung-up, normally going up, so you’d sometime over fill the tank. However, if it ever hung-up going down, you would never get a low fuel light. However, it ended up not much of a problem since the float always seemed to free itself in flight and give you the correct reading.

 

The Astar B2 and subsequent have the variable capacitance fuel gauging system with an independent Thermistor that activates the low fuel warning.

 

§27.1305 {Amdt. 27-23} and §29.1305 {Amdt. 29-26}

 

A low fuel warning device for each fuel tank which feeds an engine. This device must:

 

[1] Provide a warning to the flightcrew when approximately 10 minutes of usable fuel remains in the tank; and

 

[2] Be independent of the normal fuel quantity indicating system.

Edited by iChris
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In aviation there are 3 things that don't do you any good. Altitude above you, runway behind you, and fuel you left in the fuel truck.

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I use the gauge..

 

I’d have a problem with anyone who was attempting to stick anything into my fuel tank, other than fuel…..

 

I haven’t heard of any incidents of a forced landing due to an incorrect gauge reading. That said, history would show, the gauge isn’t the problem, it’s the pilot…….

 

You are a fool if you don't at least eyeball your tank to verify the gauge is reading accurately. I've had some issues in the past with fuel gauges. I don't trust them, and neither should you. Even a dip-stick is not an accurate indication, but it's a step above eye-balling it, and even just eye-balling the tank is a step above relying solely on the gauge. I NEVER EVER EVER rely solely on the gauge. They are probably the least reliable piece of instrumentation on the aircraft. For flight planning purposes, if the gauge says 30 gallons, and you check the tank, and it appears to be 30 gallons, I don't need to get my precisely calibrated wooden dowel out to check (OH MY! It appears there is only 29.8 gallons in this tank!). I will rely on the gauge, at that point, and I will plan my flight time accordingly. After that, whatever the tank reads is only a confirmation of my calculated fuel burn. If the two start to disagree, I am going to rely on whichever is indicating the least amount of fuel. It's just common sense.

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You are a fool if you don't at least eyeball your tank to verify the gauge is reading accurately. I've had some issues in the past with fuel gauges. I don't trust them, and neither should you. Even a dip-stick is not an accurate indication, but it's a step above eye-balling it, and even just eye-balling the tank is a step above relying solely on the gauge. I NEVER EVER EVER rely solely on the gauge. They are probably the least reliable piece of instrumentation on the aircraft. For flight planning purposes, if the gauge says 30 gallons, and you check the tank, and it appears to be 30 gallons, I don't need to get my precisely calibrated wooden dowel out to check (OH MY! It appears there is only 29.8 gallons in this tank!). I will rely on the gauge, at that point, and I will plan my flight time accordingly. After that, whatever the tank reads is only a confirmation of my calculated fuel burn. If the two start to disagree, I am going to rely on whichever is indicating the least amount of fuel. It's just common sense.

That's great if you can see in your tank. Not all aircraft have tanks you can see the fuel in until it's at least 3/4+ full and alot of operations don't allow that much fuel for weight.

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I was at a tour operation fairly recently, where they hot fuel their R44s. Those pilots have to rely soley on the fuel gauge. I suppose they could ask the fueler to look inside the tank for them, but if it were me I wouldn't be climbing up there to take a look-see while the blades are still turning! :o :D

 

Plus, they only flew with half tanks!

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