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NCAA alerts airline operators over fuel contamination incidents

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued an All Operator’s Letter (AOL) alerting airline operators over fuel contamination incidents in the aviation industry. This…

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has issued an All Operator’s Letter (AOL) alerting airline operators over fuel contamination incidents in the aviation industry.

This followed a recent discovery of a huge volume of water in the fuel tank of one of the aircraft belonging to Max Air, which operation of all Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet was suspended last week.

After the discovery, which grounded the Max Air aircraft, the NCAA dispatched a team of investigators to Lagos, Kano and Abuja, where the airline had refueled prior to the incident.

Amidst the uproar that greeted the discovery, which averted a major incident in the industry, the NCAA followed up with an AOL to alert operators of the risks and hazards associated with aircraft refueling.

The AOL085, with reference number, NCAA/DAWS/AD.1104/AOL085, dated July 14, 2023, addressed to all airlines, aircraft operators and aviation fuel suppliers, was signed by the Director of Airworthiness Standards of NCAA, Gbolahan Abatan, an engineer.

The AOL sighted by our correspondent yesterday reads: “One of the most important topics in aviation safety is aircraft refueling safety procedures and precautions. It is the ground handling operation with the highest risk factor as compared to other operations.

“There have been many flight accidents in history caused by fuel contamination resulting in abnormal operation of aircraft engines. Water is a major contaminant, amongst others.

“In recent times, the NCAA has been receiving mandatory occurrence reports from airlines and other aircraft operators with issues related to water being found in the aircraft fuel tank of the aircraft. Of recent is a report of a significant amount of water drained from the fuel tank of a Boeing 737 aircraft that had a fuel indication and gauge malfunction in-flight,” the letter said.

The NCAA, however, advised all airlines and operators to improve their refueling procedures as documented in their maintenance control manual/refueling manual and fuel suppliers operation manual/quality control manual.

The procedures, it stated, include inspection of aircraft refueling equipment by ground staff with a visual inspection of fuel hose, gauges, tires and the overall body of the truck.

The NCAA also called for testing, and checking of jet fuel quality before refueling by ground staff with the primary concern being the presence of water in the fuel.

The director-general, Civil Aviation, Captain Musa Nuhu had, during an interview on the fuel contamination, said fuel suppliers found wanting would have their licences withdrawn.

 

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