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FAA issues bulletin on jet fuel contamination

The FAA has issued a special airworthiness information bulletin (SAIB) in response to an incidence of jet fuel contaminated by the addition of diesel exhaust fluid at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida in August.

From Aug. 12 to 16, five airplanes received fuel that had been contaminated with the emissions-control substance, believed to have been mistaken for a jet-fuel ice-inhibiting additive. One of those aircraft, a Dassault Falcon 900EX, made a forced return to the airport with two of its three engines becoming disabled. Nine other aircraft were fueled with equipment that had been exposed to the diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF.

A chemical reaction between DEF and jet fuel can precipitate crystalline deposits that will “flow through the aircraft fuel system and may accumulate on filters, fuel metering components, other fuel system components, or engine fuel nozzles,” the SAIB says. A table in the SAIB lists aircraft that “experienced clogged fuel filters and fuel nozzle deposits that led to service difficulties and unplanned diversions.” A separate table lists aircraft that were exposed to trace amounts of DEF, which is not approved as a fuel additive.

The SAIB notifies the aviation community of three recommendations the FAA made directly to owners or operators of airplanes it identified at ether level of exposure, to work with manufacturers to determine inspection methods and maintenance actions to remove any crystalline deposits; to report service difficulties to the FAA; and to discard any jet fuel suspected of being contaminated with DEF and not use the contaminated fuel in any other aircraft or vehicles.

When the fuel-contamination incident was reported, AOPA called for a broader, collaborative effort to head off other fuel-contamination incidents, and has joined with other aviation organizations to provide additional education and awareness of the issue.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Aircraft Regulation, Aircraft Maintenance, Situational Awareness

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