what are safety precautions during the refueling and defueling of an aircraft?
What are safety precautions during the Refueling and Defueling of an Aircraft?
Aircraft refueling and defueling are two different operations, but are essential processes for maintaining a plane. The first process of loading aviation fuel into the plane’s tank for the flight is known as ‘refueling’. On the other hand, defueling refers to a method of extracting fuel from an aircraft and is a job split between the airline and fuel supplier operator.
The potential of disaster is enormous when you are refueling or defueling an aircraft. For instance, if a spark gets in contact with fuel vapor during this process, it is enough to start a fire. If fuel vapors and ignition sources are not managed efficiently, they can become an unwanted disaster.
This blog will give you general guidelines about maintaining an aircraft fueling safety zone and the basics of the aircraft fueling and defueling process. We will also discuss the necessary precautions to be taken while refueling and defueling an aircraft. Let us first begin with describing what an aircraft fueling safety zone is.
Aircraft Fueling Safety Zone
Safety is a major concern, especially for the aviation industry. A fueling safety zone (FSZ) is an area with boundaries approximately 3 meters away from the fuel vent exit or refueling plug on a plane. The distance of fuel hydrants, fuel hoses, and felling vehicles also increases according to the local airport authorities or civil aviation authorities.
Fueling An Aircraft
When fueling an aircraft, make sure you do it in the open air and not in a hangar where fuel vapors may accumulate and raise the risk of an accident. There are two methods of aircraft refueling:
Over-The-Wing Refueling - Over-The-Wing refueling is very similar to how you fill gas in your car tank as you start by opening the cap and inserting the fuel nozzle before pumping gas into the tank. A fuel tank cap is available on the wing’s upper surface, and the fuselage is equipped with a fuselage tank. The fueling nozzle is carefully inserted in the opening, and fuel is pumped into an airplane’s tank. When finished, a cap will securely fasten over it to prevent leaks. It is helpful to open the subsequent tank for refilling until you reach the desired load size.
Pressure Refueling - The pressure refueling nozzle is inserted into the fueling port and sealed. Then, fuel is pumped into the tank. When the tanks are full, monitoring gauges are provided to check the fuel level and close the fueling valve. Pressure refueling can be done from the bottom, front, or rear of the aircraft.
Defueling An Aircraft
Removing the fuel from an aircraft’s tanks is a delicate process. It can be necessary for maintenance, inspection, or contamination reasons, and changing your flight plan may also require defueling.
Your aircraft has a sequence that must be followed while defueling the engine’s fuel tank. Be sure to consult any maintenance or operations manual for a particular aircraft model, as defueling processes may differ from type to type and may be set up differently in each case.
If you are looking to defuel a pressure-fuel aircraft, the best way would be through its pressure-fueling port. You can use the aircraft’s in-tank boost pumps to pump the fuel out, or you can also use pumps available on a fuel truck to draw fuel out.
Safety Precautions: Aircraft Fueling
Whether you are fueling or defueling your aircraft, make sure it is conducted under the supervision of an aircraft operator, flight crew member, or an aircraft technician.
Aircraft fueling must be done in the open air.
Airport RFF service vehicles must be present while fueling.
The fire department should have strict rules about smoking in SFZ and on the apron. You must avoid carrying flammable objects, like a matchbox or lighter.
Portable fire extinguishing equipment should be available at all times, along with quick response time frames for rescue services and preventative maintenance efforts.
All the open exits on a plane must be equipped with stairs or boarding ramps to ensure safety.
While fueling an aircraft at night, make sure the external power switch main lighting of the cockpit and cabin are switched on and keep the emergency lights armed.
Do not perform aircraft fueling operations during a thunderstorm.
Use and display warning signs 15 meters away from the location of operations.
Safety Precautions: Aircraft Defueling
Aircraft defueling operations must be conducted under operational supervision, either by an operator, flight crew member, or an equipment technician. Personnel involved in the process should pay close attention and follow their safety manual’s instructions for refueling procedures.The aircraft must not be refueled when passengers are on board unless it has a crew ready and skilled enough to initiate an orderly evacuation.
The airport authorities, aircraft operators, and fuel suppliers ensure that their employees understand the safety standards of providing these services. They must provide induction training to guarantee that everyone knows what they need to perform these functions properly while also conducting tests on an annual basis, so there will be no loop-hole during operations.
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