Civil Aviation Authority records 28 cases of aircraft running low on fuel over two years

By Keith Perry, Susan CookeAlison Winward and Roger Wilsher | 18 August 2012

“Since July 2010, 28 commercial passenger aircraft landing in the UK were forced to declare low-fuel emergencies”

Exaro today publishes details of reports of UK passenger aircraft declaring emergencies after running low on fuel.

They are based on filings made under the ‘mandatory occurrence reporting’ (MOR) system, which is run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

It is mandatory to report any hazardous incident. The CAA says that airlines must refer anything that endangers an aircraft to its MOR system. Reporting some incidents is voluntary.

The filings to the CAA show that three UK jumbo passenger jets landing in southern England declared low-fuel emergencies this year.

They included a Virgin Atlantic flight from Orlando, America to Gatwick.

It comes as Spanish authorities launched an investigation into Ryanair over three low-fuel maydays in Spain.

Key to technical terms used in the CAA records on low-fuel emergencies of UK aircraft:

Abbreviation Full term Details
AOC Air Operator Certificate UK companies operating aircraft for public transport must obtain an AOC from the CAA.
ATC Air-traffic control Service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and through controlled airspace.
CMR Company Minimum Reserve Minimum amount of fuel that an aircraft must still hold on landing. AKA ‘final reserve fuel’, it is the amount required to hold for 30 minutes at 1,500 feet. If the commander knows the aircraft will land with less than the CMR he must declare a mayday.
ECAM Electronic Centralised Aircraft Monitor System that monitors aircraft functions and relays them to the pilots. It also produces messages detailing failures and, in some cases, details of procedures to correct the problem.
FOD Foreign-object damage Damage done (eg to the runway) by anything that is not part of the aircraft itself.
LVP Low-visibility procedures Procedures for aircraft to operate safely at airports when weather conditions do not allow normal operations.
Mayday Distress signal used internationally in voice radio communications. It is a request for immediate assistance in a life-threatening emergency.
PAN Signal that declares a state of emergency on an aircraft (also used on ships and other vehicles). It differs from a mayday signal because, while it marks an urgent situation, it is not a request for an immediate rescue.
QRH Quick-reference handbook

Small leaflet kept in aircraft for pilots containing checklists of action to take in both normal and emergency situations.
RIMCAS Runway Incursion Monitoring and Conflict Alert System System for monitoring any obstacle on the runway.
TMA Terminal Manoeuvring Area Designated area of airspace controlled by airports close together.


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