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'Bingo fuel' meaning: Setting your personal minimums checklist for fuel in general aviation

Flight Chain App - NTSB Aviation Accident Reports - Helping pilots learn from accident chains By Dan Sobczak
December 2020

Editor's note: This content does not constitute flight instruction. Consult a certified flight instructor in your area for proper flight instruction.



Among NTSB accident reports involving general aviation, we read too often of accidents caused by fuel exhaustion, fuel starvation, or fuel planning errors.

While 'bingo fuel' is a military slang term that should not be used in general aviation, it is a good concept to adhere to as a general aviation pilot in determining, and adhering to, your own personal fuel minimums.

While 'bingo fuel' is a military slang term that should not be used in general aviation -- see this Boldmethod story about why that is -- it is a good concept to adhere to as a general aviation pilot in determining, and sticking to, your own personal fuel minimums.


While some fuel-related accidents are caused by mechanical-related issues, there are too many that involve the pilot and his or her pre-flight fuel planning.

As of December 2020, Flight Chain App's Trends feature shows that -- among NTSB accident reports -- there were almost 11,000 accident types involving fuel management issues.

Of those accident types, almost 4,000 accident causes involved flight planning issues.

Two screenshots from Flight Chain App's 'Trends' feature show that, as of December 2020, there were almost 11,000 accident types involving fuel management issues. Of those, nearly 4,000 accident causes involved flight planning issues.

Two screenshots from Flight Chain App's 'Trends' feature show that, as of December 2020, there were almost 11,000 accident types involving fuel management issues. Of those, nearly 4,000 accident causes involved flight planning issues.


Frank Ayers over at Plane & Pilot shared a great column recently about setting personal minimums for fuel ("Pro Tips For Private Pilots: What Is Your 'Bingo Fuel?'") to avoid running out of gas.

"The No. 1 cause of general aviation aircraft landing on highways and farm fields, rather than the intended airport, is fuel mismanagement and exhaustion. When done well, this off-airport landing is often followed by the obligatory interview on the local news at 10, explaining why you landed on that highway just a wee bit short of the local airport! On the other hand, military and professional pilots, who often have significantly lower fuel-endurance margins to work with, have a much better record. We rarely, if ever, hear of a jet aircraft running out of fuel inflight. How do they do this? One answer is the military concept of 'bingo fuel,' or personal fuel minimums."

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While I won't go into all the detail that Frank shares -- you can read his entire column here -- I do want to share the three simple steps he discusses that will help you as a general aviation pilot compute your own 'bingo fuel' personal minimum for your general aviation aircraft:

  • Step 1: "Determine the accuracy of your fuel gauge system."

  • Step 2: "Determine your actual fuel flow."

  • Step 3: "Convert fuel use into specific fuel and time targets that you will adhere to."

Be sure to read the details he shares about each step -- which includes tips for fuel system operations among high-elevation pilots versus sea-level pilots, and examples of how you can establish your personal minimum fuel.

Of course, no fuel management plan will ever be reliable if you're not reliable as the pilot in command in adhering to your personal minimums. As Frank wrote:

"This concept only works if you figure out your personal fuel minimums and then stick to them. No rationalizing that the gauges are reading low, no hoping you can eke out a few more miles, and no trying to squeeze in one more pattern."

Stay sharp!
The Flight Chain App team




Flight Chain App - NTSB Aviation Accident Reports - Helping pilots learn from accident chains Dan Sobczak is the founder of www.FlightChainApp.com, a mobile app that helps pilots learn from accident chains by making NTSB reports more convenient and easier to digest. Dan received his private pilot certificate in 2003.


Flight Chain App and its companion blog www.AheadOfThePowerCurve.com are committed to reducing general aviation accidents, helping improve aviation safety, and growing the pilot population.


Ahead Of The Power Curve
Blog Archives

2021


April 2021:
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March 2021:
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February 2021:
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January 2021:
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2020


December 2020:
'Bingo fuel' meaning: Setting your personal minimums checklist for fuel in general aviation
November 2020:
Pilot proficiency check: Staying mentally proficient when grounded
October 2020:
Accident case study: VFR into IMC - Lessons from the '178 seconds to live' spatial disorientation study
September 2020:
An 'almost' accident case study: Air Canada Flight 759 near miss
August 2020:
Accident case study: Cory Robin's crash into a river in Ohio
July 2020:
Accident case study: Air Florida Flight 90 - Crash into the Potomac River
June 2020:
Accident case study: Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 - The story of the light bulb
May 2020:
Accident case study: Air France Flight 447 crash into the Atlantic Ocean
April 2020:
NTSB report released detailing Roy Halladay accident; was there faulty ADM involved?
March 2020:
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February 2020:
NTSB preliminary report: Thoughts on the helicopter accident involving Kobe Bryant
January 2020:
Aviate, navigate, communicate -- in that order -- even if your Cessna 172 is missing a wing



2019


December 2019:
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November 2019:
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October 2019:
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September 2019:
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August 2019:
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July 2019:
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June 2019:
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May 2019:
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April 2019:
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March 2019:
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February 2019:
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January 2019:
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2018


December 2018:
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November 2018:
Celebrate Flight Chain App's first anniversary with... easter eggs?
October 2018:
Flight Chain App releases new NTSB accident trends feature in latest update
September 2018:
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August 2018:
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July 2018:
Accident case study: Create your personal minimums checklist for flying
June 2018:
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May 2018:
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April 2018:
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March 2018:
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February 2018:
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January 2018:
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Flight Chain App and its blog Ahead of the Power Curve are committed to reducing general aviation accidents, helping improve aviation safety, and growing the pilot population.