Every pilot needs to know the fuel requirements for flights in VFR conditions.

We need to refer to CFR 91.151 and CFR 91.167 for the relevant text.

In short, whether you are flying during the day or at night, or in an airplane or helicopter, you must have enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing.

However, assuming normal cruising speed, the amount of fuel you need then varies depending on whether you are flying an airplane during the day or at night, or a helicopter.

Day VFR Fuel Requirements

Taking into account wind and forecast weather conditions, you may not begin a flight under VFR conditions unless:

There is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed, to fly after that for at least 30 MINUTES.

Night VFR Fuel Requirements

Taking into account wind and forecast weather conditions, you may not begin a flight under VFR conditions unless:

There is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed to fly after that for at least 45 MINUTES.

VFR Fuel Requirements for Helicopters

Taking into account wind and forecast weather conditions, you may not begin a flight under VFR conditions unless:

There is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed to fly after that for at least 20 MINUTES

How do VFR and IFR Fuel Requirements Differ?

If you are reading this article, you are probably most interested in Part 91 fuel requirements.

They apply to general aviation and cover private flying.

According to FAR 91.167:

You are not able to fly in IFR conditions unless your aircraft carries enough fuel (taking into account weather reports, forecasts, and conditions) to:

  • Land at your intended airport
  • Fly from that airport to the alternate airport; and
  • Fly after that for 45 minutes at normal cruise fuel consumption or, for helicopters, fly for 30 minutes

However, you do not need to have enough fuel to fly from an alternate airport if:

You are issued a standard instrument approach procedure or a special instrument approach procedure for the first airport of intended landing;

AND

Visibility will be at least 3 statute miles at a ceiling of at least 2,000 feet above the airport elevation – for at least 1 hour before and 1 hour after your estimated time of arrival

For helicopters, you do not need to have enough fuel to fly from an alternate airport if:

At your estimated time of arrival and for 1 hour after, visibility will be at least 2 statute miles at a ceiling of at least 1,000 feet above the airport elevation, or at least 400 feet above the lowest applicable approach minima. Whichever is higher takes precedent.