To land or to divert? How pilots decide the safest option

Time is a precious commodity. It can either be a pilot’s best friend or their worst enemy. Having the ability to differentiate between perceived time and the actual time is a key skill of a good pilot.

So, when approaching an airport where the weather is less than ideal, pilots never want to be backed into a corner. Keeping as many options available is key to a safe outcome.

How much fuel?

Before every departure, the pilots meet up around 60 to 90 minutes beforehand to discuss the key points of the flight ahead. This includes looking at the route they plan to fly, the minimum required fuel and all relevant weather and airfield information for the destination and airfields along the way. The decisions made at this point will have a massive bearing on the outcome hours later when approaching the destination.

There are a few things in aviation which are of no use to pilots. Runway behind us, altitude above us and fuel left in the truck. We only get one chance to load more fuel. Once airborne, we only have a finite amount of time available to us until we have to find a runway to land on. As a result, the decision on how much fuel to take is absolutely key.

To read the full article on The Points Guy, click here.

Alternatively, click here for a .pdf version.

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