Pilots given fuel management refresher course

Pilots at a Civil Aviation Authority seminar in Queenstown last night had a refresher course in fuel management, with presenter Andrew Warland-Browne.

CAA spokeswoman Emma Peel said the authority held the refresher seminars annually, focusing each year on a different topical issue.

Ms Peel said in the past 13 years there had been 84 aircraft accidents and incidents in New Zealand caused by fuel problems - equating to one every 56 days.

While some were caused by fuel not reaching the engine, others were caused by contamination, but perhaps surprisingly, most commonly planes just ran out of fuel.

‘‘Using fuel in the air is not like driving a car. A wind change from a tailwind to a headwind may be enough to eat up the 30 minutes' worth of reserve fuel that pilots must carry,'' she said.

The seminar offered pilots the opportunity to refresh their knowledge and learn the latest techniques, as well as examining some of the fatal accidents which could have been prevented.
‘‘[The seminar] shows what happened in a few really serious accidents that have happened.''

In one example, a pilot changed planes and switched a ‘‘fuel-selection lever'' from on to off, leading to the plane crashing and five people being killed, Ms Peel said.

Mr Warland-Browne, an extremely experienced flight instructor, said pilots of all experience levels were encouraged to attend one of the 25 national seminars.

‘‘The majority of the fuelrelated accidents the CAA is seeing should not have happened. I would encourage every pilot to come along, get armed with the right knowledge and keep their name out of the statistics,'' he said.

The Invercargill seminar is tonight at the Southland Aero Club and the Dunedin seminar will be held tomorrow at Cargills Hotel. Both start at 7pm.

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