Qantas Boeing 737 bound for Perth declares Fuel Mayday

A Qantas Boeing 737-800 entering Perth (PER) on Monday July 18 declared a mayday after running out of fuel. The jet was in the final stages of an almost six-hour flight opposite Brisbane (BNE) when Perth air traffic controllers put the plane into an extended hold. But when the fuel on board was already low, the pilots made the unusual call for mayday fuel.

Prolonged wait outside Perth pushes plane close to minimum fuel requirements

The incident concerns flight QF933 operated by VH-VZO, an 11-year-old Boeing 737-800. These narrow-body planes are the workhorses of Qantas’ domestic network, criss-crossing Australia and rarely causing trouble. Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requires flights to take off with fuel reserves of at least 30 minutes beyond the scheduled flight time. On Monday morning, while still at Brisbane airport, pilots were advised to expect a ten minute delay outside Perth so they ordered a further ten minutes of fuel to be pumped in the tanks.

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Flight tracking data indicates that VH-VZO departs at 06:52 and heads north of Adelaide before heading to Perth over the bay. Towards the end of the flight, back over land and roughly north of Ravensthorpe, the aircraft banked sharply to the right to begin a large parabolic shape grab. The pilots remained in this hold for ten minutes.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported the story and, according to that report, pilots risked landing without the legal minimum fuel reserves if they did not declare a fuel mayday. The call put Qantas’ Boeing ahead of four other planes waiting to land in Perth. The log says the plane flew into Perth ATC airspace with 20 minutes of additional fuel beyond the minimum required reserved, but after holding and burning fuel, Perth ATC told the pilots that the period of wait was 16 minutes.

“The Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) is investigating a low fuel occurrence involving a Boeing 737-838, registration VH-VZO, which occurred abeam Wave Rock, Western Australia, on July 18, 2022,“said a statement from the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB).”During the descent, the crew declared an emergency due to the amount of fuel on board and proceeded to land in Perth. The aircraft landed with reserves intact.”

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Qantas says the Mayday call was the right call and never a safety issue

The Mayday accelerated the plane to Perth Airport, where it landed without further incident. According to other media, the plane landed with the required minimum fuel reserve of 30 minutes plus ten minutes. Qantas told these outlets that their pilots did the right thing, landed with fuel well above minimum requirements and there were never any safety issues.

VH-VZO took five hours and 56 minutes to complete the sector. At 2,246 miles (3,614 kilometres), it is one of Australia’s longest inland routes. Qantas uses a mix of widebody and narrowbody planes on the run. Depending on takeoff weight and factors such as headwinds (which can be a problem on these westbound transcontinental flights), a fully fueled Boeing 737-800 can potentially fly up to 3,582 miles (5,765 kilometers). ).

The ATSB is investigating and announces that it will issue a final report once the investigation is complete.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald