Training Tip: What could go wrong? Night Operations

3 Replies

Training Tip: What could go wrong? Night Operations

Posted by Jon Bullock on Apr 6, 2018 9:30 am

I think that probably all of us have, at least on one ocassion, assumed that fuel would be available during daylight flying hours at the destination airport. If not there then at another field close by that would still leave us a safe reserve. The problem is definitely brought into focus when attempting the same plan during night flying where acquiring fuel can become more problematic, as in this case.  However, here is another consideration.  It was stated that the 150 was "maxed out with 12.5 gallons of usable fuel."  That would be 16 gallons total or a fuel weight of 96 pounds.  We're probably talking about a couple of pilots that weigh around 200 pounds each.  At a real world useful load of around 500 pounds, the Cessna 150 really is more of a trainer capable of carrying two people for flight instruction for a little over an hour.  But as a commuter, in reality the design is only good for one person with baggage for the advertized 4 hours of flight time.  My question would be this.  Why fly on the edge?  Money???  Think about this.  The cost of renting a Cessna 172 ($122/hr) is approximately $16 more per hour than the 150 ($106/hour) and that's wet.  So theoretically at least, you're not paying for the gas.  But let's do the math, shall we?  The 172 cruises at approximately 138mph @ 75% power whereas the 150 cruises at around 122mph @ 75% power.  Different models have slightly different performance figures but these will do. The flight in the 150 was planned to be one hour so we're going to assume a flight of 100 miles, 200 round trip.  However, the plane was at maximum weight so let's assume the the speed the little huffer and puffer 150 can make will be less by a conservative 2mph which would put it around 120mph.  So that would be 138 mph vs 120mph.  So the 200 miles would cost the 172 pilots around $177 in rental fees and would take about 1.45 hours of flight time.  The 150 pilots would shell out about $177 and it would involve about 1.67 hours of flight time.  Plus, the 172 is much more stable and comfortable to fly.  So the 172 could actually cost the same amount as the 150.  But best of all, the fuel issue has been taken out of the equation.
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Re: Training Tip: What could go wrong? Night Operations

Posted by Erik Wagner on Apr 6, 2018 11:15 am

Long ago, my instrument ground instructor, a former Marine Corsair pilot, taught us that when short on fuel, do what Lindberg did to reduce consumption. Reduce your rpm's as low as you can. 

Re: Training Tip: What could go wrong? Night Operations

Posted by Jon Bullock on Apr 7, 2018 10:42 am

That is an axiom for stretching range. Nice reminder Erik.

Re: Training Tip: What could go wrong? Night Operations

Posted by Richard Gallaher on Apr 16, 2018 2:32 pm

All very true... smaller planes are for time building (training).
If you want to really use a plane as intended, for travel, the larger plane is going to be better and more comfortable.