abnormal
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:14 pm

Fuels Spills On SA Airbus Fleet

Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:14 pm

Flying west coast to east we seem to consistently experience a higher than average number of fuel spills (2 or 3 per month) on our narrowbody airbus fleet. Moreso in the hotter weather and most often in places like LAS, PHX ,LAX. We've accounted for fuel expansion and every other thing we can think of to keep within limits but the spills keep happening on a regular basis and this has been going on for a few years now.

I'd be interested to see some feedback on the experience of other carriers and their fueling procedure protocols eg pump selections in f/d, manual or auto fueling mode, and max press ( we want auto fueling at 30 psi max with all pumps OFF).
 
A/c train
Posts: 674
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2001 7:57 am

RE: Fuels Spills On SA Airbus Fleet

Thu Aug 23, 2007 3:42 am

with all the overfill protection systems/ high level cutoff, volumetric topoff bla bla bla, cant say ive ever experienced this but im sure others have, cant imagine why it is happening, if your manually overriding the auto refuel systems then there is a danger but most airplanes cutoff and worst case scenarion, sense it in the surge tanks and then shutoff.
regds a/c.
 
dc10hound
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 4:18 pm

RE: Fuels Spills On SA Airbus Fleet

Thu Aug 23, 2007 8:57 am

Internal plumbing leaks.

This is a known problem on the A300-605R.

For example, the center and inner tanks share a common engine fuel feed manifold. If this plumbing is cracked or broken in an inner tank, part of the fuel that is being fed to the engine manifold when the center boost pumps are feeding will dump into the inner tank. If the tank becomes over full in the process, the excess fuel will be vented over board.

The tank is being protected from over expansion. There is no way to shut off this venting except to reduce fuel volume in the relevant tank.

Could the A320 be experiencing a similar problem?

This can also occur during fueling depending on internal plumbing configuration and where the defect is located.
"Eagles soar. But weasels never get sucked into jet intakes.."
 
abnormal
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:14 pm

RE: Fuels Spills On SA Airbus Fleet

Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:28 am

Thanks gents. We've gone through most components and found nothing out of spec. We've played with flight deck pump configurations - no effect. It's frustrating.

I'm inclined to think it's a problem with the fuelers themselves at those particular stns when they're in a rush (Manual mode refueling, 60+ psi) but trying to verify that is next to impossible.
 
dc10hound
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 4:18 pm

RE: Fuels Spills On SA Airbus Fleet

Fri Aug 24, 2007 9:23 am

Here's a quick check that we use on our A300s to identify uncommanded fuel transfers:

Refuel/Defuel panel door closed.

Crossfeed CLOSED (cross line).

All tank isolation valves OPEN (in line).

Both Center Tank pumps ON.

Observe Center Tank quantity for 1/2 hour. If the quantity in the Center Tank decreases and the quantity in an inner tank increases, you have an internal leak.

Both center tank pumps OFF.

Left (Right) Inner pumps ON.

Observe Left (Right) Tank quantity for 1/2 hour. If the quantity in an inner decreases and the quantity in the Center Tank increases, you have an internal leak.

Also, several operators have reported to Airbus that they have found Refuell/Defuel valves stuck in open position due to a deformed return spring. There is no indication that this has occurred except for uncommanded transfers or overflows.
"Eagles soar. But weasels never get sucked into jet intakes.."
 
surfpunk
Posts: 238
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:20 pm

RE: Fuels Spills On SA Airbus Fleet

Tue Oct 02, 2007 4:21 pm

Quoting Abnormal (Reply 3):
I'm inclined to think it's a problem with the fuelers themselves at those particular stns when they're in a rush (Manual mode refueling, 60+ psi) but trying to verify that is next to impossible.

*Bump*

I suppose that is a possibility, although from my experience with the A320, the internal pipes (fuel fill lines) were of sufficient narrowness that an increase in fueling pressure usually didn't result in much benefit in turn time (the 320 used to be my least favorite aircraft to fuel because of this, considering that the wing tanks on a 320 hold about 50% more than a DC-9's wing tanks do, but the DC-9 would take fuel at a faster rate than the 320). I know that some of the fuelers at MSP back in the day would monkey around with the baling wire that would lock down the pressure valve on the fuel trucks (hydrant carts, not tankers) and have their trucks running upwards of 60-70 psi. This would do wonders for GPM delivery on a DC-10 or 747, but I know of one guy who ended up rupturing a fuel manifold on a 727 because of this. When the truck mechanics found that the pressure regulator was running at 70 psi, that guy was terminated immediately (this also made the company put locking covers over the pressure regulators on all the trucks).

I personally had a fuel hose connecting flange on a DC-10 give way while I was fueling it (one prong remained connected to the aircraft, so the hose didn't detach completely, and of course, I was in the lift right under the fuel panel, so I ended up getting soaked with Jet A). This was at normal 40 psi flow pressure, and I wasn't going to even consider doing anything that could cause direct damage to an aircraft.

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