Otedola: Bad fuel likely cause of air crashes


Chairman-of-Forte-Oil-Plc-Mr-Femi-Otedola-300x294Air accident investigators have been advised to keep an eye on aviation fuel.

Household Kerosene (HHK) is being sold to airlines as a substitute for Jet A1 fuel, also called aviation turbine kerosene (ATK), it was alleged yesterday.

This is a rising trend that needs to be arrested, frontline businessman Femi Otedola said. He called on the Federal Government to focus its searchlight on the sector.

In a statement he signed, the oil magnate said: “This illicit act has been identified as a major factor contributing to the rising cost of kerosene in the country and may also be the cause of some of the air mishaps we have encountered in the country in recent times.

“It is pertinent to state that HHK is sold by the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), an   arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the ex-depot and regulated price of N40.90k with the objective of selling to the average Nigerian at the pump price of N50.00k per litres.

“However, HHK shares some physical and chemical properties with Jet A1 fuel (except for the storage and handling procedures to eliminate contamination in Jet A1 fuel) is being sold by some petroleum marketers to both local and international airlines at the international market price, which may be as high as N140/litre. This huge arbitrage has led to evolution of some mushroom aviation fuel marketers who see this as an opportunity to make big profit.”

Otedola noted that more worrisome is that these mushroom marketers are not established and do not have the infrastructure to store, transport and handle Jet A1 fuel in such a manner to eliminate contamination which is a key safety requirement for global aviation practices. The proper care and handling of ATK is paramount in maintaining safe aircraft operations, he added.

He stated that one of the requirements that operators with high safety standards try to ensure is that their fuel is free from contamination. Contaminated fuel can cause significant damage to the aircraft and engine. Damage can range from fuel system corrosion, clogging of fuel filtration components, failure of aircraft fuel system instrumentation, and even stopping the fuel supply to the engines during flight, he said.

“But with proper handling procedures in place, fuel contamination capable of causing problems to the aircraft can be eliminated. In addition, Jet A1 DEF STAN 91-91 (UK) and ASTM D1655 (international) specifications allow for certain additives to be added to jet fuel, these include; Antioxidants to prevent gumming, Antistatic agents, to dissipate static electricity and prevent sparking , Corrosion inhibitors and Fuel system icing inhibitor.

“Based on the foregoing, it is pertinent that the unwholesome activities of these mushroom operators be curbed in order to ensure highest levels of safety and global best practice in the Aviation industry in Nigeria,” said.

According to experts, the difference between fuel families (kerosene, diesels and petrol) has to mainly with the molecular weight, which is a function of the boiling point/ vapour pressure of the fuel components – from heaviest to lightest. The differences within each family are related to refining, blending, and additives, as well as process controls imposed on the fuel.

Jet-A is a high-purity kerosene based fuel manufactured under a specific ASTM standard (D1655), with specific physical properties, and is used in jet turbine engines. Fuel not meeting the Jet-A specification is generally recycled in the production chain for other purposes (for example it may be used in blending kerosene for heating or blended into highway diesel).

The Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON)  Captain Nogie Meggison yesterday dismissed insinuations making the round that some independent fuel marketers were selling kerosine as aviation fuel to airlines.

Meggison said if kerosine is sold as adulterated aviation fuel, it could affect the performance of aircraft engines thereby reducing the lifecycle of engines powered by such adulterated product .

He said such product if adulterated could make the aircraft engine burn faster and cause major malfunction that could become an impediment  to safety.

He said operators were still investigating the rumour  and were yet to establish any veracity in the claim of adulterated aviation fuel being sold to airlines from kerosine.

Speaking at a one day breakfast meeting organised by Aviation Round Table (ART) in Lagos yesterday, Meggison said  major oil marketers  were alleged to be selling kerosene as aviation fuel to the operators.

He explained that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had sent a Notice to Airmen, NOTAM, to all airline operators coming into the country to beware of aviation fuel being sold to them.

He said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority ( NCAA) has been notified of the development.

Last month, the Managing Director of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ( FAAN), Saleh Dunoma  advocated a central quality control procedure for aviation fuel supplied by independent marketers to domestic and foreign carriers operating in Nigeria.

Dunoma said the central quality control measure has become imperative to ensure that aviation fuel supplied complied with the required standards by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Towards this end, he said FAAN, fuel suppliers and airlines met to arrive at the best quality of the product to be certified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Organization (NCAA).

He also urged aviation agencies  to initiate quality control procedures to strenghten controls over Jet A1, otherwise known as aviation fuel .

Dunoma stated this  while delivering a keynote address at the annual public lecture organised by the Aeronautical Division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE). -The Nation

 


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