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UAE recommends operators to exercise oversight of fuel suppliers after fueling incidents
4 April 2017

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) recommends operators to exercise oversight of aircraft fuel suppliers following several fueling incidents.

On 16 February 2016 an Airbus was scheduled to operate a passenger flight from the United Arab Emirates, to United States. The aircraft was parked at the parking stand and the fueling commenced at 01:10 LT by the fueling supplier. Fueling was in progress and 163,057 liters of fuel had already been pumped to the aircraft when, at 02:12 LT, the fueling operator observed dark black smoke emanating from the vehicles’ engine compartment. The operator immediately released the ‘deadman’ control and started to attend to the fire using a fire extinguisher. Another fueling operator who was awaiting an aircraft arrival on the adjacent stand, noticed the fire and informed his supervisor, who in turn informed the fire service, the airport authorities and the Operator. The second fueling operator then attended to the fire with his vehicle’s fire extinguisher. The Emergency Hydrant Shutdown Switch (ESD), which is positioned 80 meters from the incident site, was activated at 0218 LT. Six fire extinguishers were emptied before the airport rescue and firefighting team arrived and extinguished the fire. No injuries were reported and fire damage was limited to the hydrant fueling vehicle. The aircraft was subsequently released to service and fueled with the remaining 81,610 liters by another fueling vehicle.

This incident was one of twelve fueling incidents that have occurred in the United Arab Emirates. Of these 12 events, nine involved fuel leaks during the fueling process. The fuel leaks were caused by aircraft fuel system defects, or fuel system handling issues.

The GCAA’s Air Accident Investigation Sector (AAIS) is concerned with the quality of safety oversight of fuel agents as third party service suppliers to operators in the United Arab Emirates.
The current regulation excludes certain third party service suppliers from the requirement to establish and implement an approved safety management system. Furthermore, CAR Part X Safety Management System, omits the requirement for air operators to describe their interaction with third party service suppliers. A solid interaction with third party service suppliers would reduce the likelihood that defenses in the operator’s safety management system are weakened by third party staff, or unsuitable equipment standards.
This situation requires from the air operator not only a good understanding of relevant operational risks, but also the initiative to manage the risks sufficiently, while exceeding current regulatory requirements.

In light of the findings, the Air Accident Investigation Sector recommends that the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates:

  1. Establish a requirement in CAR Part X- Safety Management System, that the operator apply their safety management system to fuel suppliers. The extent of application of the operator’s SMS to fuel suppliers should be documented in the contract agreed between the operator and the fuel supplier.
  2. Establish a requirement for operators to exercise oversight of aircraft fuel suppliers. The extent of oversight should be documented in the contract agreed between the operator and the fuel supplier.

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