If the "Fuel Shutoff Valve" is ON, wouldn't fuel be cut off?

Brian Wheeler
  • If the "Fuel Shutoff Valve" is ON, wouldn't fuel be cut off? Brian Wheeler

    Ok, so this may be more of an english lanugage question, and I can confirm from context that when the fuel shutoff valve is ON fuel does indeed flow to the engine, but wouldn't that just make more sense to call that valve the fuel valve?

    If the component that shuts fuel off is on, operational, in use, functioning, etc., shouln't fuel be shut off, as the name implies?

    I realize this could be seen as a quibble, but confusion causes accidents and IMO this is wildly confusing.

    EDIT

    Looking at the Cessna 152 checklist today I noticed this interesting quirk. On the regular checklist side (pre-takeoff, maneuver, etc.) the checklist reads "Fuel Shuttof Valve - ON", but on the emergency checklist for an engine fire it merely states "Fuel Valve - OFF".

  • I can see where that can be confusing, but it comes down to perspective.

    From a maintenance and engineering perspective, you are actuating the fuel shutoff valve which controls the fuel to the engine. The actual terminology when referring specifically to the valve would be opened or closed, which would result in the fuel being on or off.

    From a pilot perspective you are simply turning the fuel selector on and off, which happens to be connected to the fuel shutoff valve. The pilot doesn't even need to know about the valve, so they placard it from the operational perspective in the cockpit and say whether the fuel is on or off.

    fuel selector

    Note that these are placarded as a fuel selector and fuel off both of which seem pretty clear to me.

  • I'd think that 'fuel shutoff valve' is a good name, but I'd think it's more sensible to use alternative terms to on/off. I think however most pilots will very early learn this and that it can't really be a problem. They know which position it should be in.

    A few aircraft I can think off will avoid this by only using a using a more expressive term than on or off. For instance: OPEN-ON or likewise CLOSED-OFF or even more simply, OPEN or CLOSED. Some also explicitly state the difference, for instance 'PULL-OFF', like the aircraft below.

    valve

  • Shutoff has a negative connotation, but the word ON is (highly) associated with the engine running. So if SHUTOFF is ON, is the shutoff valve operational (cutting the fuel off) or do we run with our standard interpretation of the word ON - that something essential (fuel supply) is functioning? I can see a pilot in an emergency, when her or his brain is on the edge of panic, forgetting their training and operating the valve incorrectly. I'd suggest it would be clearer to keep the word Shutoff, but make it one of the options, rather than the name of the whole control.

    alternative fuel switch

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  • Ok, so this may be more of an english lanugage question, and I can confirm from context that when the fuel shutoff valve is ON fuel does indeed flow to the engine, but wouldn't that just make more sense to call that valve the fuel valve? If the component that shuts fuel off is on, operational, in use, functioning, etc., shouln't fuel be shut off, as the name implies? I realize this could...-takeoff, maneuver, etc.) the checklist reads "Fuel Shuttof Valve - ON", but on the emergency checklist for an engine fire it merely states "Fuel Valve - OFF".

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