• Refueling a GA aircraft with avgas. (Steve Hitchen)
    Refueling a GA aircraft with avgas. (Steve Hitchen)

New regulations around fuel planning will see CASA implement a mandatory 30-minute fixed reserve for VFR flight and a requirement to declare a Mayday if any of that fuel has to be consumed.

According to CASA, the new rules, which will come in on 8 November are designed to enhance safety and align Australia with international standards.

The 30-minute fixed reserve for aircraft with an MTOW of less than 5700 kg will be reduced from the industry general practice of 45 minutes, which CASA says was in response to industry feedback. The main difference is that the reserve will, by regulation, need to be maintained.

"All pilots must conduct in-flight fuel management, including in-flight fuel quantity checks at regular intervals," the CASA briefing material states.

"When conducting these checks, you may discover that you would be landing at your original planned destination without sufficient fuel, that is, your fixed fuel reserve remaining.

"If this occurs, make an alternate plan to land safely with sufficient fuel at a different location than you had originally planned. Your new safe landing location will depend on your aircraft capabilities and the conditions. In some instances, it may not even be an aerodrome but could be a field.

"However, if a safe landing location is not an option and you are landing with less than your fixed fuel reserve, then you must declare Mayday Fuel."

Among other changes, additional fuel will also need to be carried in some aircraft to compensate in the event of engine failure in a multi-engine aircraft, or a failure of the depressurisation system requiring flight at a lower altitude.

Under the new rules, pilots operating into controlled airports must contact ATC if they are in a situation where they will arrive at their destination with only the mandatory minimum fuel intact. If they calculate they will arrive with less than the minimum fuel intact, they must declare a Mayday Fuel. If the destination airport is not controlled, the Minimum Fuel call is not needed.

"The Mayday Fuel declaration aims to increase safety," CASA says "It alerts other airspace users to a potential fuel problem facing an aircraft in their vicinity and ensures priority is given to that aircraft to reduce the chances of an accident.

"The declaration is an internationally recognised standard aligning Australia with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization that are designed to assist in the management of aviation safety risks.

"Mayday Fuel is not aimed at setting conditions to prosecute pilots or operators and a declaration does not automatically mean that emergency services will be mobilised."

Changes to the fuel regulations can be read in full on the CASA website.


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