So, how much fuel do you need exactly?

    Let’s start with the bare minimum regulations followed by what you should actually do.

    VFR Fuel requirements (airplanes and helicopters):

    Day: You need enough fuel to fly to your first landing point  and then still have 30 minutes of fuel remaining at a normal cruise speed.

    Night: Same as above, but you need 45 minutes after reaching your first point.

    Helicopters: Same as above but you need 20 minutes regardless of day or night conditions.

    If you want the exact wording check out these specific regulations:  CFR 91.151  and  CFR 91.167

    Recommended Fuel Reserves:

    Because the FAA’s Part 91 regulations are quite liberal, I like to set my own personal standards.

    Here are the numbers I use:

    • One hour of fuel reserve on IFR flights (airplane and helicopter)
    • One hour of fuel reserve on airplane VFR flights regardless of day/night conditions.
    • 30 minutes of fuel reserve on helicopter VFR flights

    Yeah, I know, these are pretty conservative numbers!

    There are four reasons I use these numbers:

    #1 I like to avoid math. Rounding up to an hour or 30 minutes makes my life easy.

    #2 I have no patience with low-precision fuel gauges. GA aircraft are notorious for fuel gauges that give only rough numbers. An hour gives me plenty of cushion to make up for ambiguous readings.

    Note: I still use these numbers in the King Air which has great fuel gauges (see reason #4)

    #3 I can’t remember all the different FAA regs. This makes my life simple. I don’t have to change things if it’s day or night or I am flying IFR or VFR. It’s always the same.

    #4 This extra time makes up for my sometimes lackluster performance planning.

    Sometimes I plan a ton of flights above FL180 and then when I fly low on a mission my fuel numbers are way off. Aircraft burn fuel faster at lower altitudes. This extra cushion takes care of my laziness.

    This poor planning may seem like blasphemy for new pilots, but when you fly almost every day pilots tend to generalize planning numbers as they learn their aircraft.

    Feel free to set your own numbers. The intent of these recommendations is to get you thinking about whether the FAA’s minimum requirements are enough.

    I am never this conservative when I fly Army missions, but for good reason. When I flew in combat, the guys on the ground needed us. We always stayed until the last-minute.

    Are you supporting troops on the ground? No? I didn’t think so.

    You’re flying in national airspace. There are hundreds of airports. You have no excuse to push it.

    So, do yourself a favor and pad your fuel numbers. You will never regret it.

    Additional Reading:

    The Rules and Fuel by Flying Magazine

    AOPA Legal Briefing on Fuel 

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    What is the minimum fuel reserve for day VFR flight and on what cruise speed is the fuel reserve based?
    What is the minimum fuel reserve for day VFR flight, and on what cruise speed is the fuel reserve based? There must be enough fuel to fly to 1st point of intended landing and 30 mins beyond (day) or 45 mins beyond (night) assuming normal cruise speed. more
    Does fan speed affect fuel consumption?
    adding any load - from the radio through to turning on the head lights increases fuel consumption. the a/c has a more noticeable affect; yes , running the a/c does increase fuel consumption and the high vs low fan would have an affect ;but, it's the basic a/c that has the greater affect. more
    What speed uses the least fuel?
    Over the years the speed of 56mph has often been talked about as being the optimum speed. This was due to the old fuel consumption test being run at three speeds: urban, 56mph and 75mph – and 56mph was always, unsurprisingly, the most efficient of these. Typically, cars are most efficient at 45-50mph. more
    Which day the flight is cheapest?
    Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly domestically. The cheapest days to depart if you're flying within the U.S. are midweek — generally Tuesday or Wednesday. For economy tickets, Tuesdays are about 24% lower than peak prices on Sundays, which translates to savings of about $85 per ticket. more
    What is minimum approach speed?
    “Minimum clean speed” signifies the minimum speed at which an aircraft can be flown in a clean configuration, i.e. without deployment of liftaugmentation devices, speed brakes or landing gear. more
    What is the VFR flight visibility minimum in Class G airspace when you are operating at or above 10000 feet MSL during the day?
    one mile I say "basic" because, under certain conditions (in Class G airspace during the day, for instance), you only need one mile of visibility to operate under VFR. But if you're flying above 10,000 feet msl, you need five (not three) statute miles visibility to be able to fly VFR. more
    What speed is most fuel-efficient?
    55-65mph The Energy Saving Trust says that the most efficient speed you can travel in a car in terms of achieving the best fuel economy is 55-65mph. Any faster, though, and the fuel efficiency decreases rapidly. For example, driving at 85mph uses 40% more fuel than at 70mph (oh, and it's illegal too). more
    What is most fuel efficient speed?
    55-65mph The Energy Saving Trust says that the most efficient speed you can travel in a car in terms of achieving the best fuel economy is 55-65mph. Any faster, though, and the fuel efficiency decreases rapidly. For example, driving at 85mph uses 40% more fuel than at 70mph (oh, and it's illegal too). more
    What is the minimum fuel reserve for day VFR flight and on what cruise speed is the fuel reserve?
    What is the minimum fuel reserve for day VFR flight, and on what cruise speed is the fuel reserve based? There must be enough fuel to fly to 1st point of intended landing and 30 mins beyond (day) or 45 mins beyond (night) assuming normal cruise speed. more
    What speed uses the most fuel?
    Slow Down and Drive Conservatively Speeding increases fuel consumption and decreases fuel economy as a result of tire rolling resistance and air resistance. While vehicles reach optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 miles per hour (mph). more
    What is minimum base salary?
    Minimum base salary is a term used when an organization's pay schedule includes ranges for each position. For example, if a company advertises a marketing position with a salary range of $40,000 to $47,000, the minimum base salary is $40,000. A job applicant knows that he'll be paid at least that amount. more

    Source: www.thinkaviation.net

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