We want to welcome you aboard a fascinating journey into the world of aviation lingo! Together, we will be taking a closer look at a term that might sound mysterious to many of you: "Bingo Fuel."

While this phrase might evoke images of a lively game night with friends or family members, it holds a much more critical role in the world of aviation, specifically in military aviation.

In this article, we'll explore the meaning and significance of Bingo Fuel and shed light on why this intriguing term isn't commonly heard in the world of civilian aviation.

Get ready to fasten your seatbelts and prepare for an engaging exploration of this unique aspect of flying!

What if BINGO Fuel - Pilot Mall

What is BINGO Fuel?

The term Bingo Fuel conveys an important concept that pilots keep in mind when carefully managing fuel remaining levels.

In the simplest way of explaining Bingo Fuel, it's the minimum amount of fuel needed for an aircraft to complete its journey safely from its current point (A) to the destination (B), and then continue on to its furthermost alternative destination, keeping an adequate safety margin to deal with any delays, diversions or unfavorable conditions.

Three components come into play when calculating Bingo Fuel:

  • Reserve Fuel - which is a fixed amount for emergencies.

  • Fuel to farthest alternate - dependent on factors such as weather and distance.

  • Fuel to the destination - This is the fuel needed to reach the destination, which is determined by current fuel rate and remaining distance.

For flight crews, Bingo Fuel serves as an important decision-making reference. If at any stage of the journey the aircraft's fuel supply nears or reaches it, it's essential to prioritize diverting to an alternate airport rather than pushing towards the original destination.

Having sufficient reserves and evaluating the aircrafts fuel status accurately is vital for reliable and safe aviation operations.

Minimum Fuel and Emergency Fuel

Though similar in feeling, minimum fuel and emergency fuel serve different purposes.

  • Minimum fuel describes how much fuel remains in the tank - enough to make a safe landing at the active runway.

  • Emergency fuel is the amount of fuel that remains after the required calculated fuel reserves have been taken into account. This means that due to the limited amount of fuel, the aircraft will not be able to wait any longer and will need to land immediately.

What is Joker Fuel - Pilot Mall

What is Joker Fuel?

Joker fuel, a term with its origins in the United States Air Force during World War II, represents a fuel quantity exceeding the minimum level required for landing, which is known as bingo fuel.

While bingo fuel is strictly the minimum fuel required for a safe landing, joker fuel includes an additional reserve margin.

It serves as a more precise and calculated estimate, providing an extra safety buffer for flight operations.

In essence, joker fuel offers a comforting surplus beyond the essential minimum, ensuring added security during flights.

A Confused Air Traffic Controller - Pilot Mall

Why You Should Never Say "BINGO Fuel"

In civil aviation, using the term "bingo fuel" should be avoided, and here's why: While "bingo fuel" is a common phrase in military aviation, it may not be familiar to air traffic controllers and professionals in the civilian aviation sector.

Utilizing the term "bingo fuel" in civil aviation may be unfamiliar and lead to confusion and miscommunication. It is important to use standard terminology when communicating with air traffic control or fellow crew members, as this helps to eliminate misunderstandings and keep everyone safe.

Clear and standardized terminology ensures that critical information is conveyed accurately, minimizing the risk of confusion and enhancing overall safety during flights.

No matter whether you're on the ground or navigating through the sky, clear communication practices are essential for ensuring aviation safety.

The History of BINGO Fuel

The term "bingo fuel" has an interesting origin rooted in military history, specifically during World War II. The word "bingo" was used to signify a critical point in an aircraft's flight when it needed to divert or return immediately due to dwindling fuel reserves.

Pilots during that era would radio over communications, announcing "bingo fuel" when their fuel reservoirs reached a minimum level, signifying the need for an urgent change in their flight plan.

The practice became ingrained in aviation as a way to clearly communicate emergency fuel situations and prioritize safety during challenging wartime operations.

Today, while "bingo fuel" remains understood in military flight, it serves as a historical reminder of the importance of precise fuel management and clear communication in the skies.

How to Calculate Bingo Fuel - Pilot Mall

How is BINGO Fuel Calculated?

In order to calculate bingo fuel you must use this formula:

BINGO = Reserve Fuel(lbs) + The furtherest alternative(lbs) + Fuel to the destination(lbs)

It's important for pilots to factor in extra fuel, their fuel burn, and the max holding time based on their fuel remaining.

HK-2016, the Avianca Boeing 707 involved in the accident - By Paul(By Paul , CC BY 2.0, wikipage)

Fuel Emergency Situations

A lesson often taught in aviation to show the importance of proper fuel management is the Avianca 52 flight, which unfortunately ended with the jet aircraft crashing due to fuel starvation.

The aircraft was meant to stop for fuel halfway through it's flight, but the pilots decided not to refuel. While they did request priority landing in Medellin, Colombia, they failed to declare an emergency to the air traffic controller.

Because of this ATC was not aware that their aircraft fuel reserves were completely depleted if they were put into a holding pattern. The flight declared an urgent fuel shortage after they were already in the hold and then crashed.

When to Declare a Fuel Emergency?

When the safety of the passengers and crew are at stake, declare an emergency fuel condition to ensure an immediate landing.

As a guideline, consider declaring when the reserve fuel supplies have been diminished below a certain point.

Ultimately, it is the judgement of the pilots on board that should dictate when an emergency is declared.

Take Away

The important lesson to learn from this article is that in the world of civil aviation, understanding the distinctions between "bingo fuel," "minimum fuel," "emergency fuel", and "reserve fuel" is key for safe flight operations.

"Bingo fuel," originally a military term, signifies the minimum fuel needed to safely reach a destination, with calculations based on factors like fuel burn and distance. It should not be used in civil aviation, but it can serve as an important reminder for pilots to properly manage their fuel.

"Minimum fuel" advisories indicate potential concerns but not emergencies, precise fuel monitoring, aided by fuel gauges and electronic systems, is vital for proactive decision-making.

In cases where a flight's fuel supply approaches reserve levels, clear communication with air traffic controllers becomes crucial.

Pilots must know when to declare an emergency fuel condition to ensure the safety of all on board and prioritize a swift and secure emergency landing when necessary.

Ultimately, the key takeaway is that in aviation, awareness of fuel emergencies and adherence to standardized protocols are essential to maintain effective communication and to safely reach your destination.

Fly safe!

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Learn More Aviation Facts

Check out these articles to learn more important facts pilots of all experiences should be aware of.

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