Overweight TO's in GA

C172Heavy

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So where is the line? Just wondering what the general thoughts are on takeoffs when you are overweight. General aviation only. Would you takeoff if you are 5 pounds over? What about 50?

I don't do it, just wondering if others do or if there are any interesting stories about it.

This thread assumes the CG is well within limits.

Fly safe.
 

SF3CAP

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I remember years ago the story about that 12-year old girl that was attempting to fly across the US with her flight instructor. She was to be the youngest kid to fly from coast to coast. She and her instructor both were killed when the aircraft (a cessna 172 I think) crashed in Wyoming. It was overweight, and I think they were flying in icing conditions. Sad story. I guess the moral being just don't do it.
 

bigD

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People around here seem to push the envelope all the time. Especially in a flat areas like around here, you could probably get away with 50 pounds or more depending on DA, the plane, etc...

For me, the issue is my future. I know I could probably 'safely' fly a plane 5 or 10 pounds over gross, but a ramp check or anything that would blow the whistle on me would mean the end of my dream of flying corporate or commercially down the line.

It's just not worth it. There's too much on the line.
 

C172Heavy

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BigD,

You hit the nail on the head for me. It's just not worth it. I remember the thing I've heard from people around this board (can't remember who) 'Start at the hearing and work backwards.'
 

bigD

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Arrrgg...I should think before I write. I should have said that I could probably 'get away with' flying a plane 5 to 10 pounds over gross. There's nothing safe about it.
 

A1FlyBoy

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This topic could head in many different directions with a thread for each, but:

From day #1, a student should have a POH and be taught how to read and interpret charts for their particular aircraft for EACH flight landing and takeoff - especially. People have mentioned not wanting to "risk" their licenses, but no one has mentioned their life. Hmmm....

Sure, flying in flat states near sea level, you can get away with a lot. Try some of these things at high altitude airports, in hot weather OR at altitude with icing and you'll learn a lot - that is if you live.

I've seen aircraft owners who appear to just get lazy about being competent on preflight planning. Stuffing things into their cabin and cargo areas and topping off the tanks.

There will always be more NTSB reports, but I EXPLAIN to my students WHY to do things in addition to explaining HOW.

This is important.

Fly Safe.
 

ShawnC

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Well for me it really depends on the airport, if I'm flying out of an airport such as Orlando Exec or Daytona where I will be spending alot of time on the ground, I always put about half an hour of extra fuel in the tanks, if I'm flying out of some of the smaller grass strips, or pretty much anything that isn't to busy I try not to go over gross at all.

With that being said I've seen planes loaded with about 10-20 lbs over gross with mimimal consequences on preformance, that just an observation I never suggest that anyone every over gross a plane.
 

FL000

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Sadly she was only 7, and she was a pawn in a game of publicity played by her parents and instructor. But back to the subject at hand, yes the plane was overloaded. Here is a link to the story from the local paper.

Jessica Dubroff story

and another link to a series of stories, looking at the bigger picture of the tragedy

Dubroff series

Here's another overload accident which killed a respected gentleman, his wife and his pilot in Georgia because they "had to" get some floor tile and a load of fruit to her summer home in Maine. Tragic and useless loss of life ensued.

Over gross

For every over gross accident there are probably hundreds of overloaded planes that get away with it, but is that a gamble you want to take?
 

bigD

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A1 - didn't mean to imply that I didn't care about the safety of the flight or myself, however when it comes to just 5 pounds over gross on a cool day here in Texas, I'm more worried about the implications of getting caught.
 

aero99

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Just remember that anytime you fly outside the POH, you are a test pilot. Test pilots get paid some bucks to figure these things, let em.

There was an interesting article last year in Flying about a Caravan hauling lions and they stated in the print that they were something like 1000 lbs over gross.

Apparently bush Pilots in Africa don't care too much about a ramp check from the FAA and if they have enough ball$ to haul live lions without cages then they probably have enough ball$ to fly overweight. Wonder what there insurance cost???

Personally, I don't fly outside the POH- ever.
 

Ty Webb

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Well, they probably wouldn't have to worry about overweight takeoffs in Georgia if the people there weren't so FAT!

Seriously, ferry pilots routinely get waivers to fly aircraft 25% over MTOW. Alaskan bush operators also have waivers that allow them to takeoff over gross- look in the FAR135 Table of contents.

Not trying to advocate illegal or unsafe practices, but there are safety margins factored in.
 
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A1FlyBoy

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the "safety margins" which the aircraft designers factor into the particular model airplane are to allow the aircraft a little wiggle room under certain benign conditions.

Any pilot who uses this spare cushion on a regular basis or flat out abuses it, when mother nature factors into it, will have a few moments to ponder what they did wrong as the airframe breaks up and they fall to earth.
 

Ty Webb

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A1FlyBoy said:
the "safety margins" which the aircraft designers factor into the particular model airplane are to allow the aircraft a little wiggle room under certain benign conditions.


Since when do ferry pilots and Alaskan bush pilots operate in "benign" conditions?

Any pilot who uses this spare cushion on a regular basis or flat out abuses it, when mother nature factors into it, will have a few moments to ponder what they did wrong as the airframe breaks up and they fall to earth. [/B]

A little dramatic . . . don't you think?

Guess you've never tried to take four adults on a weekend trip to the islands in a piston single with a cooler full of beer and snorkeling gear . . . .

Thankfully, the statute of limitations is up on that one . . . . .
 

chperplt

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Those extra 5 or 10 pounds might not be much to you. They might not have been much to the person who flew the airplane before you. They might be an awful lot to the person who flies the airplane after you and wonders why the wing fell off.

It might not take much to cause a catastrophic airframe failure after repeated abuse.
 

Prop Trash

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I know we're talking GA here, but what about 121 ops? Who here works for a company who uses an FAA approved W&B procedure that "averages" what bags and people weigh? My company says all checked bags weigh 25 pounds, gate checks weigh 10 pounds, and all people weigh 180 pounds in the winter. I've wondered how much some of those bags and people really weigh. Heck, if the weight really becomes an issue, bags can magically disappear. And the best part...its all leagal and approved. Sometimes I wonder how much the airplane really weighs. For all I know, we could be 1,000 pounds over - but leagal on paper.
 

starchkr

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All a/c approved max weights are purposely understated in the respective POH's. This is done on purpose for those pilots out there that don't care and are going to fly no matter what the weight. There will be a time in everyone's life when they end up somewhere over the max t/o weight limitation. Most will say "NO, not me!!," but it will happen. The plane will operate just fine, and you will realize that there is a reason the pilots in Alaska are allowed to fly their airplanes heavier than we are in the contiguous 48. The max t/o weight is a limit placed on the aircraft with the manufacturer and the FAA knowing all too well that it will not always be adheared to, so they put that little fudge factor in. I have been told that there is sometimes as much as 50% built into some airplanes.

So who wants to be the first to try it out... let me know if you can squeeze 1000 pounds into a 152. First if you can get it to fit you should go home proud and be recognized by all for your efforts, and then if it flies... well let's just play and say it worked.
 

Cardinal

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My oh my, I haven't seen such a universally dogmatic thread in months. Flying an aircraft overgross, while not legal, is also not heresy, nor treason, but merely an increase in risk. Risk is everywhere in aviation, and it is our job to manage it. And this example of 5 or 10 lbs, preposterous! If the extra perfromance realized by being 10lbs lighter is what means the difference between flying and crashing, my friend, you've made other, more significant mistakes that day. The level of risk assumed by carrying extra weight rises smoothly from OEW right past MGTOW and beyond. It doesn't start to spike until well past max gross. There are many circumstances in which merely loading the aircraft up to gross and flying the mission would be perfectly legal but also perfectly stupid, performance-wise. Concurrently, much safer circumstances can be found through planning and consideration of the factors invovled, even if they include being a modicum overweight.

Is flying overweight illegal? Yes
Is flying overweight potentially detrimental to ones career? Yes
Is flying overweight punishable by hellfire and the mark of a bad and patently unsafe pilot? No

Risk management is the whole of aviation. It's just about knowing the risks and taking on a measured portion of them.
 

Pilotadjuster

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Overweight

I have also read stories of ferry pilots flying many pounds over gross under waiver. I would say the main factor aircraft loading and staying within the performance envelope, ie weight and balance. I'm sure we've all figured W&B problems where we find out we would be overweight but within CG limits.

I would also say the waivers are based upon careful calculations and consultation with the aircraft manufacturer to see what the actual margins are.
 

TurboS7

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I have so many stories I could tell in refrence to this thread that I could write a book.The last two guys do have it together as far as departing over gross. Taking off over gross is no big deal, being heavy actually increases the manuvering speed of the aircraft and enables it to handle turbulence more efficiently. Landing over the max landing weight of the aircraft is a no, no as there is the possibility of structural failure to the aircraft if you mess up even a little. The problem is that it won't effect you but your stick buddy when he is trying to slip around a TRW some day.If you really got sticky and weighed every thing in your airplane most of you guys that think your legal will find out that you have been flying an aircraft that is 100 to 200 pounds overweight. We found that our aircraft "gained" 100 to 200 pounds every 3 years just in dirt and other accumulations. So I don't want to hear one person on this board say they have never flown over gross, they have. If the FAA were all that concerned about it they would have a big scale and the end of each runway and a red light and green light in the tower to indicate whether you are clear to go or not.
Would I fly over gross???Never on paper. I will never admit it in court, and I would deny the evidence. I had the FAA try to nail our operation once, they used a bathroom scale to weigh everything. I knew I had them so when the hearing came I pointed out that they had not used a certified scale at all and all the weights were bogus. They threw that thing out so fast we were out of there in five minutes.
In my 135 I set the amount of weight that the pilots could carry based on fuel for the trip segment and the required fuel for the trip IFR. If the pilot's put more fuel on to cover themselves within reason I didn't care and looked the other way. If a pilot was a stickler that was fine but he always landed with his fuel gauges at 1/4 on each tank, but he was legal--your choice.
As for the 121 lets take my 737-800, everything is in kilos and since everyone will be using kilo's when the EU takes over the world you might as well get used to it here goes. I can take 174 people on board. According to our loading graph this comes to 14,600 kilos winter weights. Usually we will have 260 bags at 14 kilos per bag.That comes to 3640 kilos.Our BOW on the aircraft is 43000 kilos and max zero fuel weight is 62,731kilos.This brings our zero fuel to 61240kilos. The big limitation is landing weight. If we were going to fly a three hour flight our burn would be about 9,500 kilos.So 66,360 plus our burn means our max take-off limitation would be 75,800 kilos and we would land with 5K worth of fuel,plenty for even the worse of conditions. This is all totally legal with the FAA.
Now reality check-our cruiseline people consist of Americans which the averge male is 210lbls and female 150lbs. At a 50/50 split that comes to 31,320lbs. Now figure the averge person carries on at least one bag at 20lbs that comes to an additional 3480 lbs plus our 31,320lbs divided by 2.2 equals 15818.0 kilos. Each bag for a cruise(these are the big mama's)weigh about 85 pounds a piece that comes to 38kilos each times 260 equals 9880 kilos this brings our payload to 25,698 total.
What does that mean??you do the math. This is an extreme conditon but it is a reason that I go outside the aircraft and personally lift a few of the bags so I can get a realistic idea of what we are dealing with. The numbers are legal I have no choice but to go, but I can add a couple of knots, do a slow rotation, and land with minimun fuel instead of the max. The beauty of the 737-800 is the angle of attack feeds the ADIRU which will give me an alert message on the MCP panel and tell me that the weight in the FMC doesn't jive with the angle of attack. So we won't fall out of the sky. But this happens day after day and hour after hour all over the globe and it is all legal. Remember we measure it with a micrometer, mark it with a thick chalk and cut it with an axe. It is safe, but you can't push the numbers in 121 because you just might be pushing them already.;)
 

hyper

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One important point that is being ommited is that the max t.o. weight for an aircraft is predicated on stall speed. If you load the aircraft 100-200-500 lbs. over the poh limit it will still fly. Sure, you may use more runway to get airborne and climb slower but it isn't going to fall out of the sky. Why do you think VGs raise the max takeoff weight? It's not because they increase the lift of the wing. They lower stall speed by making the airflow over the wing more efficient at greater AOAs thus lowering stall speeds. An airplane at max t.o. weight that weighs 5000#s will weigh
10000#s in a 60 degree bank. Now consider that the airplane is certified for at least +3.8Gs (most normal cat. GA are) and you will see that at 19000#s (3.8 x 5000 and 14000#s over max t.o. weight) the wings aren't going to fall if your a few pounds over gross. We won't even consider the fact that the engineers have already designed in a buffer in the ballpark of at least 6Gs.
As we all know, your stall speed will increase as your load factor increases and thus plays an important roal in determining a gross weight for an airplane.

I'm not advocating overloading in anyway and sure there are other aspects to consider such as any given performance element or structural strength for landing gear to provide a buffer for hard
landings etc., but this is a point that should be addressed to provide a clearer understanding on the subject.
 
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