The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has taken decisive action by issuing an All Operator’s Letter (AOL) to airline operators, raising concerns about fuel contamination incidents within the aviation industry. This move comes in response to the recent discovery of a significant amount of water found in the fuel tank of a Max Air aircraft, resulting in the suspension of all Boeing 737 operations within the airline’s fleet last week.
Following the discovery, which led to the grounding of the Max Air aircraft, the NCAA promptly dispatched an investigative team to Lagos, Kano, and Abuja, where the airline had refueled prior to the incident. These investigations were crucial in assessing the circumstances surrounding the fuel contamination issue.
In the wake of the incident, the NCAA has further addressed the matter by issuing AOL085, a letter of alert to all airlines, aircraft operators, and aviation fuel suppliers. The AOL, dated July 14, 2023, and signed by NCAA’s Director of Airworthiness Standards, Gbolahan Abatan, highlights the risks and hazards associated with aircraft refueling.
The AOL emphasizes the importance of aircraft refueling safety procedures and precautions, particularly considering that fuel contamination incidents have historically resulted in aviation accidents and abnormal engine operations. Water contamination was identified as one of the major concerns.
The NCAA urges all airlines and operators to enhance their refueling procedures as documented in their maintenance control manual, refueling manual, fuel suppliers’ operation manual, and quality control manual. These procedures include comprehensive inspections of refueling equipment, such as fuel hoses, gauges, tires, and the overall condition of the refueling truck. Additionally, the NCAA calls for rigorous testing and checking of jet fuel quality before refueling, with a primary focus on identifying the presence of water in the fuel.
Regarding the fuel contamination issue, Captain Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of Civil Aviation, expressed stern consequences for fuel suppliers found to be at fault, stating that their licenses would be revoked. This highlights the commitment of the NCAA to ensure strict compliance with safety standards and the safeguarding of the Nigerian aviation industry.
The issuance of the AOL serves as a critical reminder to all stakeholders involved in aircraft refueling operations to prioritize safety measures and implement thorough protocols to prevent fuel contamination incidents. By taking proactive steps, the Nigerian aviation industry aims to enhance its safety standards and maintain the trust of passengers and industry professionals alike.
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