Contaminated fuel alert


The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has sent an alert to its members following a rise in hazards relating to contaminated jet fuel.

Earlier this month, two Cessna Citation 550s landed safely after taking off from Punta Gorda, Florida. However, evidence of DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) – an additive used to reduce emissions in cars and trucks — was found in both aircrafts’ fuel. DEF is not suitable for aircraft and when used can trigger reactions that can plug fuel filters and damage other engine components.

One of the aircraft, which was headed for Niagara Falls, New York, suffered a double-engine flameout and landed safely in Savannah, Georgia. The other, set for Chicago, landed in Louisville, Kentucky, with single-engine failure.

AOPA said: “In August 2018, five aircraft were found to have been serviced with jet fuel containing DEF in Opa Locka, Florida. Nine more aircraft received fuel with equipment that had been exposed to DEF.”
Since the two incidents on May 9, the FAA too has also issued warnings and prompted industry review of the possible malpractices involving aircraft fueling and refueling.

With the rise in production and use of sustainable alternate jet fuel (SAJF) – also a clear, drop-in liquid – it is likely that manufacturers and FBOs will have to raise security measures to avoid any possible contamination to the fueling process.

In terms of its production, Tom Parsons, commercial development manager, AirBP, said: “SAJF is safer than the regular jet fuel production process. It is very controlled and the SAJF gets certified at the point of production. Then, there is a full spec test after blending and if everything is okay, it is recertified.”

At present, SAJF can be dropped-in with jet fuel in amounts up to 50% and does not affect the performance of the aircraft.