This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
With FBOs pumping less fuel as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) has issued equipment maintenance guidance for fuel providers. During this “low-use” period, problems that might be encountered in refueling equipment include microbial growth in filter vessels, tanks, and piping; increased water production in fuel tanks with low volume; and unused fuel left in hoses that could possibly “spoil” or degrade off-specification.
NATA recommends that FBOs continue to conduct and document their regular quality control checks for all equipment and on a weekly basis recirculate fuel at maximum achievable flow and move fuel through bottom loading hoses.
For tanker trucks seeing limited use, operators should recirculate fuel through a single-point hose at the maximum flow and flush over-wing hoses into jet-A and avgas-specific reclamation/sump saver tanks. Refueler trucks should be started and driven regularly to move fluids through the transmission and power steering lines, as well as to maintain a battery charge.
To prevent “static shock” or fuel that has been in storage for more than six months since it was received, the organization suggests taking lower fuel loads. NATA noted that recirculation is not a remedy for static shock, and any fuel in long-term storage should be tested to make sure it meets the applicable ASTM standard before being delivered to the aircraft.
Last, allowing fuel systems to dry out can cause damage to hoses, filters, gaskets, and seals, so users should consult with their equipment manufacturers before removing any equipment from service.