Aerial view of the Reno-Stead Airport taken from an aircraft flying overhead.

Information for pilots and users of Reno-Stead Airport.

Bingo Fuel?

Here is some food for thought from our friends at FAA:

Proper terminology is our topic for today. In this case, we discuss use of the term BINGO FUEL by a pilot. As you know, BINGO is a game of chance, and pilots in flight should not be taking chances! As you might expect, the word BINGO is not found in the Pilot/Controller Glossary.

It is also military slang for the minimum fuel required for a comfortable and safe return to base. To clarify, even if the controller had understood the pilot’s use of “BINGO FUEL” in the following example, the phrase does not indicate an emergency fuel condition, and the controller would not have changed his instructions.  The expectation would be a normal landing that does not require emergency handling.

Recently a pilot used that term while approaching to land at an airport. One can only imagine that the pilot had watched too many old flying movies. In this instance, there was a Runway Incursion and a Pilot Deviation, which will most likely result in an enforcement action (or Remedial Training) by the FAA.

The C-210 landed on the active runway after being told to go around (twice) by the Tower due to insufficient separation from the preceding aircraft, a C-172 executing a previously approved stop and go maneuver.  The Tower issued both go around instructions prior to the C-210 crossing the Runway threshold. 

The C-210 landed on the runway after announcing “BINGO FUEL.”  Noting that the C-210 was not going around, the Tower told the C-172 to start an immediate take-off roll prior to the C-210 landing.  Aggressive braking by the C-210 pilot led to the aircraft making a 180-degree turn on the runway resulting in a blown right main gear tire.  Closest proximity to the preceding aircraft reported by the Tower was 300 feet.

To repeat, BINGO FUEL is not standard phraseology and pilots should not use the term.  In addition, in this case, the pilot did not declare an emergency (which would have helped the controller to understand the circumstances) and after landing locked both wheels while braking to avoid the preceding aircraft. Furthermore, the pilot landed after the Tower instructed him to go around.

Please remember to avoid slang while communicating; it only leads to confusion and in the case above, could have resulted in a collision on the runway with potentially dire results.

Furthermore, don’t be afraid of the “E” word – Emergency. Even if paperwork is required after landing (and it typically is not), that’s less expensive than the blown tire, as in this case, or the potential damage caused by a collision.

We could go on about the situation created by what appears to have been a low fuel condition, and what caused that, but today’s topic is proper terminology.

Have fun and Fly Safe!

Mike Dikun
Airport Manager
Reno-Stead Airport