Balance Your Fuel

Make it a habit to check your fuel gauges to ensure the tanks are even.

Tip Fuel
Tip Fuel

Ensuring that you are carrying enough fuel to complete your planned flight is not the only fuel-related concern that you should keep in mind as you fly. While a fuel imbalance may not cause you to make an emergency landing, it could mean the difference between having a nice smooth touchdown and potentially causing some damage to the airplane.

Check your fuel gauges every 30 minutes or so to make sure the amount of fuel in each tank is relatively even. If you are fortunate enough to fly with technologically advanced avionics, you likely have the option to set an alert or message that will remind you to glance at your fuel gauges. If your avionics don’t have alert capabilities, you may want to set some other type of alarm as a reminder.

If you are flying an airplane with multiple fuel tanks, changing the tanks every 30 minutes should keep the fuel sufficiently balanced. Make sure you know your fuel system and which tanks to burn off first. Some fuel tanks should also only be used during level flight.

You may think that you’re exempt from checking the fuel gauges if you are flying an airplane that allows you to select both fuel tanks at the same time, as is the case with most single-engine Cessnas. But several factors could lead to a fuel imbalance in an airplane with a “both” switch. There is nothing wrong with burning fuel from one side or the other, should the fuel tanks become uneven. Just remember to bring the fuel selector back to both when the tanks even out or when you are ready to descend.