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Would you or do you takeoff above MTOM?

The other day i had a discussion with some pilots in which i admitted that i have occasionally (two or three times) taken off in the Cirrus slightly above MTOM. The maximum was with about 30 pounds too much, or five gallons of fuel.

I should have known before what would happen, of course i was accused of endangering my passengers etc. And i guess this might happen here aswell, we’ll see.

The 310 hp SR22 has zero technical problems with that, the t.o. run from an elevation of 1300 feet was below 400 meters – in the summer – and initial climb rate was close to 1000 fpm.

Do you sometimes deliberately stretch the POH numbers? Do you religiously follow the POH – or does it depend?

I for one have no problem with those 30 lb in the SR22, although that was a rare exception, but i will never carry three grown up passengers in the Warrior in the summer, even uf the POH gives me an ok, because i have found out a long time ago how dangerous that can be.

Your plane does not carry a higher risk of breaking apart because of 30lbs more weight. For long ferry flights they usually get much more overloaded, albeit with a special permit. this is to say that there isn’t a technical issue with it but clearly an insurance risk. My fear would be that in case of an accident that has nothing to do with the 30lbs overgross, insurance companies will try to void the insurance coverage and you or your estate might be in serious financial trouble.

On another note I would surmise that by the time you have cared to weigh all items lying around somewhere in the plane you might find out that you were carrying more weight around than you initially thought. Technically still not an issue but I think it will make a difference in front of the insurance company whether the overgross is just marginal or whether they can attribute reckless behaviour.


I have a digital scale (that weighs 200 g) on board and i knew exactly how heavy the plane was. If anything then it was lighter, because i use a large tolerance. All my accessories including 2 qts of oil weigh 24 kg

If the accident has nothing to do with the 5 gallons of fuel or 30 lbs – the insurance will always pay, i have that on paper from the insurance.

They paid for the totalled Archer III at my field in which the fuel selector was in the off position … and they pay for worse stuff, they do it all the time. After all, with the typical GA accident they could refuse payment almost always …

Last Edited by at 04 Jan 13:51

Flyer59 wrote:

…the insurance will always pay…

Ask Lufthansa/Germanwings if the insurance really always pays for accidents caused deliberately or by gross negligence.

EDDS - Stuttgart

5 gallons too much fuel, which will result in 3.5 gallons once ready do not qualify as gross negligence. Also the accident has to have its reason in that negligence.

I have asked my insurance, and they have confirmed they would pay in cases like
- gear up landing
- CAPS landing due to loss of control or fuel related
- fuel switch in off position

A typical GA insurance (at least in Germany) will consider these cases “mistakes”, “negligence” – but not “gross negligence”, and that makes the difference.

If that wasn’t so they would always have a reason not to pay. But they do.

Flyer59 wrote:

of course i was accused of endangering my passengers etc.

I think the comments on COPA (where this original exchange took place) were more balanced than that. The discussion was more about the two camps of pilots – those who always fill the tanks because you can never have too much fuel, and those who calculate and take what is needed plus their margin. The “chastising” comments were to the effect that section 2 of the POH is really the only mandatory part, and once you start disregarding things from that section because you know better, then that is a slippery slope where nobody knows where it ends. Second argument is whilst the plane may take off and fly just fine, you don’t know what the limiting factor was in determining the MTOM for certification, and it may only come into play in special situations like a chute pull, a stall, etc. Unless you have that information from the engineers that did the certification, you can’t know what the critical part was.

When it comes to the SR22, I talked about this as part of my IR training. The G5 has 200 lbs more MTOM than the G3, and the only thing they basically changed on the airframe were the flaps and the parachute, and they modified liftoff and stall speeds. So the only thing that might worry me taking off 30 lbs overweight in a G3 would be the parachute; at MTOM you probably already come down quite hard, over MTOM it might or might not be too fast. I don’t understand the forces at play enough to make that decision.

That being said, I have never taken off over MTOM, except maybe during my PPL training in a C152. I would rather not top up the tanks and make a fuel stop. And if I can make the plane lighter, I’d rather use that additional performance margin. On many occasions, you can hear criticism of ultralight pilots for always flying overweight, and I think pilots of certified planes have the advantage that they don’t have to do it.

(I was not ! referring to the discussion on COPA).

You have to take into account what i wrote: 3.5 gallons of fuel, or 13 kg, and i would be below MTOM after 8-10 minutes)

Last Edited by at 04 Jan 14:38

Flyer59 wrote:

5 gallons too much fuel, which will result in 3.5 gallons once ready do not qualify as gross negligence.

If you do your weight and balance calculation and your find out that you are only one kilogram over some limit than you commit a deliberate violation if you go flying like that. This is much worse than gross negligence. Gross negligence would be if you don’t do a W&B at all.

But insurance stuff apart: Where do you draw your line? Why is 30lb overweight OK, but 200 or 500 not? Would you go flying after a glass Prosecco, knowing that you will have a blood alcohol level of maybe 0,1 or 0,2? Quite a few pilots will. But why yes? Why not?

Last Edited by what_next at 04 Jan 14:44
EDDS - Stuttgart

Flyer59 wrote:

Do you sometimes deliberately stretch the POH numbers? Do you religiously follow the POH – or does it depend?

I never knowingly load the aircraft above the MTOM, but I’m not fanatic about checking weights. E.g. I know my usual weight with clothes on. This can vary several kg from one day to another depending on things like timing of meals and whether I bring a heavy or light coat. I don’t care about such slight variations. Also if a passenger carries a camera, I don’t care about its precise weight.

Also, if I check the fuel level using a dipstick, there will always be an uncertainty of 5 l or maybe more.

Last Edited by Airborne_Again at 04 Jan 14:52
ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

1. i draw an intelligent, sensible line
2. i drank alcohol the last time in 1996

I accidentally topped of the plane and found out that i was 30 lb over MTOM before taxi, 20 at takeoff. I do not think this is gross n.

But i will ask my insurance agent, and tell you what he answered.

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