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Letter to Senator Lautenberg on Low Fuel Declarations at Newark Liberty International Airport

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On November 6, 2007, Senator Lautenberg requested that we review emergency and minimum fuel declarations by pilots on flights into the Newark Liberty International Airport (Newark Liberty). The Senator expressed concerns about reports of increased fuel declarations on flights into this airport.

We found that minimum and emergency fuel declarations had increased on flights into the Newark area; however, there were no instances of aircraft landing with fuel levels below those required by FAA (based on our sample of 20 flights).

The increases were attributable to several factors, including differences in pilot and controller interpretation of minimum and emergency fuel declarations and air carrier use of smaller planes on international routes. FAA has begun reviewing these declarations and clarifying its guidelines for minimum and emergency fuel declarations. It is too soon, however, to determine the effectiveness of FAA’s actions.