|The following stories from the Dec. 10, 2010, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online|
Following up on fueling
You landed at your cross-country destination, called in a fuel order on the unicom frequency, and tied down the trainer. Now it’s time to go inside the fixed-base operation, have a snack, and update your flight plan and weather.
Or is it?
Not yet. Yes, it’s cold out there on the ramp this December day, but you have another duty to perform. You’re pilot in command of your aircraft on this solo cross-country, so when the fuel truck comes, it is you who should supervise the refueling.
Misfueling accidents are rare, but they do happen. Eleven occurred over the past 10 years, according to an Air Safety Institute analysis of accident trends. The Air Safety Institute’s Fuel Accident Map shows you where and how they happened.
Preventing misfueling is the reason fuel is color-coded, as you learned when you and your flight instructor performed that very first preflight inspection. But even proper fuel can be contaminated. Checking for that is also part of your inspection. Do you know what contaminated fuel looks like? See the illustrated discussion in the Sept. 15, 2006, “Training Tip: Fuel contamination.”
You’ve probably observed other pilots walking away as the fuel truck rolls up to their aircraft. Don’t emulate that behavior. Keeping an eye on things will assure you that the aircraft is not damaged or mishandled. You can also make sure that the proper amount of fuel goes into the tanks. That could be important someday if exceeding gross weight must be avoided.
Study and follow the checklist for ordering fuel and overseeing fueling that is provided in this Air Safety Institute Safety Brief on misfueling. Note that numerous standard safety precautions are taken to avoid mishaps. They include the color-coding and placarding of fuel trucks that carry 100 low-lead avgas or jet fuel, and designing fuel nozzles to be compatible with the tanks they fill. Pilot scrutiny helps make this safety package work as intended.
Let’s make clear that your overseeing aircraft refueling is no reflection on the line crew. Most line crewmembers are consummate professionals, deservedly proud of their skill and safety consciousness. Many are pilots or student pilots; they love and learn valuable lessons from their arduous line work.
They understand that you are being a conscientious pilot in command when supervising refueling—and they respect your care and caution.
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A moderately priced headset from MGL Avionics is now available. The MGL-880 offers stereo and mono operation, passive noise suppression (27 decibels), an adjustable open-foam cushioned head band, and ear seals. The MGL-880 is priced at $125. For more information, see the website or call 877/835-9464.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: When landing at a towered airport, which taxiway should a pilot use to exit the runway, and when should he or she contact ground control?
Answer: The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) is a great resource when it comes to answering questions like this one. Chapter 4-3-20 states that after landing and slowing to taxi speed, a pilot should exit the runway at the first available taxiway or at the taxiway instructed by ATC. Remember to taxi clear of the runway unless the tower tells you to do otherwise. You should not exit onto another runway or stop on the landing runway and back-taxi unless ATC authorizes you to do this. Also, keep your radio on the tower frequency until you are told to contact ground control. If you are unfamiliar with the airport layout, request progressive taxi instructions from ground control, who will then guide you to your final destination on the field. For more information on this topic, read the Air Safety Institute’s Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor.
Got a question for our technical services staff? E-mail [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.