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NATA Aims To Improve Misfueling Awareness

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On August 27 last year a Cessna 421C on a medevac flight crashed on initial climb out of Las Cruces, N.M., killing the pilot, two medical workers and the patient. Less than six months later, that sequence was repeated when a Piper PA-46 Malibu went down just after takeoff from Felts Field Airport in Spokane, Wash., killing the lone occupant. (www.ainonline.com) More...

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bentwing60
bentwing60 8
This issue was addressed many years ago with a service letter that required the installation of restrictor plates to prevent the insertion of the new 1980's wide mouth nozzles on JetA trucks into a piston powered airplane fueling port. Its not about the decals, most of this is about the wrong fuel in the right truck. You can't fix stupid! If they can't figure out what fuel to put in the truck, do you really think a decal will make a difference? The manufacturers went so far as to no longer label a piston engine airplane as a turbo to avoid confusion amongst the cranially challenged. It ain't stopped the misfueling! Fly a jet, they run on anything. Or put a couple of drops of fuel on a plain white sheet of paper if you suspect fuel contamination. If the drops disappear, it's avgas, if the drops leave a stain, it's contaminated with JetA. And when I saw the pictures of that 421 with no feathered props and pancaked 5 miles from the field, LFK, I wrote there's JetA in the woodpile. When they have plenty of fuel and both quit at the same time the pilot, for a change, didn't do it! And if they haven't installed the restrictor plates after all these years, they asked for it.
bbabis
bbabis 1
I believe you nailed it. Misfueling has only happened to me once. I got Jet-A out of a truck labeled Avgas 100LL. The lineman wasn't the one who serviced the truck but he picked up the problem after just a few gallons were dispensed into one wing. Decals and fueling port size have no effect on this type of incident.
LoralThomas
Loral Thomas 5
They missed one -- last month a C421 landed in the median of a highway in Texas after receiving 53 gals of Jet A.

I wonder what ever happened to the decals you could put around the filler indicating type of fuel? Seems like a good safety check to me. GA plane types are getting more and more complicated. Line personnel should be fully trained to know the difference. If unsure, ASK!! And the person taking the fuel request, either by phone or in person, needs to mark down fuel type. Communication -- it's a wonderful thing when used properly.

Bottom line is the PIC is the one responsible for the safe conduct of his flight. Even if the line guy/gal put the wrong fuel in, the PIC is going to pay the consequences.
chudddds
chudddds 2
does the aviation industry truly have this issue ??? intellectual capacity, anyone ?
BobSchick
Bob Schick 2
This issue has been addressed at most FBOs and yet mis-fueling continues to occur. TAC Air takes the problem very serious and so we have clearly defined procedures that require the LST to verify the fuel grade. If there is no placard we do not fuel until the pilot signs a fuel confirmation form. We maintain nozzle control so round and duck bill nozzles aren't mis-used. We also perform daily QC checks to ensure trucks are only loaded with the correct grade and type of fuel. The missing part of the process is the pilot being present at the aircraft during the fueling operation. This is the final barrier to prevent mis-fueling and yet it is not common practice. It's their aircraft that has a conversion and yet the filler ports aren't updated to reflect the change in fuel type. It's their aircraft that takes diesel and is not properly placarded. Given the fact that the pilot and their passengers ultimately have the most to lose if a mis-fuel occurs, doesn't it make sense for the pilot to play a more active role in monitoring the refueling of their aircraft? We all need to remain vigilante and work together to stop these tragedies.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Dear Bob,in a perfect world the pilot would be there every time an aircraft was fueled. It's not and the pilots are not. Flying is a hurry up and wait game, and I can assure you that owner flown corporate airplanes are not flown by the guys who will be there for every refueling. Ergo, the onus is on you, the fueler and the ultimate price will be paid by the guy that did not check. So don't try to shove that "who done it" meter the other way. Efforts to prevent these types of accidents have been addressed from every spectrum and continue to present themselves from one entity, the fueler. It is rare enough that most folks dont't check, and often enough that anyone that pays attention or does this for a living should!
crk112
crk112 1
Absolutely worth it... any experienced line guy should be able to identify what type of fuel goes in, even if just by observing the fuel that's already in the tank. It's very easy to tell 100LL from Jet-A. Having been an experienced line guy back in my high school days I never understood how anyone could make such a simple but fatal mistake.

One time I saw a line guy take an inspection plate off the wing (yes six screws held it on) of a Diamond DA20 and fill the wing with fuel cause he didn't realize the tank is in the fuselage.
zennermd
zennermd 1
This was always my fear while I was a line specialist, especially when it came to King and Queen Air's.
linbb
linbb 1
Was too early for me when I fueled AC back in the early 60s. Just had to worry about
grade but that could put one in also. People who made comments about stickers by or around
the fuel cap don't understand the lack of awareness by people fueling AC sometimes. Add that to ever who fills the truck and then the problems start. A famous aerobatic exhibition
pilot put a Shrike Commander down safely after signing autographs while the line personnel fueled it with Jet A.He wrote an article about it in one of the publications afterwards.
bentwing60
bentwing60 4
Bob Hoover would be one of the few guys who could pull that off!
chrisrod1
I personally fuel my Cessna 182A with ethanol-free 87 octane auto fuel (per approved STC) from my personally owned fuel trailer. I personally fill that trailer after personally testing for ethanol. They may get me, but they're going to have to work HARD at it! (Yes, I also check the color and smell at each step)...
MikeMohle
Mike Mohle 4
Personally, how does that make you feel?
BaronG58
BaronG58 1
George..do you personally take your personally owned fuel trailer with you on trips? 8-)
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Thank you.
chrisrod1
PERSONALLY, much better than when someone else besides the PIC (me) does it...
chrisrod1
Generally, I arrange for for clean fuel cans if I'm going out beyond my round trip range or am present and closely observing the fueler BECAUSE I CAN. I'm a rank amateur in aviation l, but I've been around long enough and have enough hours to know that it's almost always the things that you don't check carefully that bite you on the ass (DUH!).
redcataviation
Sidney Smith 1
Idiots abound on the line crew, always have, always will, growing in numbers daily. BUT, is it that big a of an inconvenience for the pilot(s) to hang around while the plane is refueled? Or is it that important to get to the FBO office and stare at the chick behind the counter?
JimHeslop
Jim Heslop 1
Excellent point George. Case in point, a Northern Thunderbird B100 crashed at CYVR and the two pilots died as a result of the crash, fortunately all the pax survived.
The initiating factor was an oil leak brought on by a loose filler cap. The plane was serviced the night before and the AME apprentice failed to properly secure it. His supervisor failed to see it and signed off as complete. The PIC who had over 10,000 hrs......did not do his pre-flight inspection!
The pax pointed out a pool of oil under the engine and this last chance to catch this 'little thing' was shrugged off by the pilot.
And unfortunately it 'bit them in the ass'

We all know what the acronym "ASSUME" means.

C-GXRX was one sweet looking King-Air!
JimHeslop
Jim Heslop 1
Previous post is reply to 'George Rodregues'
N214KR
Karl Rogers 1
Awaiting "the rest of the story", but prelim info of the Malibu that crashed after leaving Felts Field was pilot himself self serve/refueled the airplane. Can't get more "be there while refueling" than that. If that is true, it begs the point of not only being there physically, but being there mentally and focusing on "one thing at a time". My bet is that at a perfect (or imperfect) time, the pilot was momentarily distracted as he was to pick the hose and grabbed the wrong one. Could have been a phone call or something he was trying to deal with and unable to multitask at the time. A student pilot was recently killed when he was doing solo touch and goes when he failed to flair at the needed time when his phone records indicate he got a phone call just as he was about to land. Distraction...you be the judge. It all goes to the sterile cockpit concept. Do you avoid distractions during preflight, fueling, other phases of flight? If not, don't think it can't happen to you. If not, you might want to rethink your SOP. Just an interesting concept....all conjecture until the NTSB reports come out but a good point nevertheless.
ColinSeftel
Colin Seftel 1
If the issue is distinguishing between JetA and Avgas, the smell is completely different. It's not a bad idea to open the filler cap and sniff during walk around.
bentwing60
bentwing60 1
Low concentrations of JetA will send turbocharged piston engines into detonation and will not necessarily give the aroma of JetA. The paper thing always works, the nose thing doesn't.
chrisrod1
Great tip. Haven't heard it before,but it's going into my bag of tricks. Thanks.

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