When refueling an aircraft, several standard rules and regulations have to be followed to ensure that the process is carried out safely. Since aircraft fuel is highly inflammable, negligence on part of the refueling staff can lead to devastating consequences.
Common safety precautions that must be followed during aircraft refueling
The personnel involved in the refueling process must make sure that they follow the safety guidelines give below at all costs:
- Avoid smoking during the refueling process
No smoking must be allowed near the aircraft while the refueling process is being carried out. The air around the refueling vehicle often becomes saturated with fuel vapors. Flames, sparks, and extreme sources of heat can easily ignite these vapors and lead to a catastrophic disaster. The ground staff must not carry matches or lights with them to keep the risk of a potential fire hazard to a minimum.
- Electrostatic charge buildup should be prevented
The aircraft, fueling vehicles and fueling equipment must be kept grounded to ensure that there is no buildup of static charge. The absence of an effective grounding mechanism can prove to be extremely hazardous as it could cause the fuel to ignite and explode.
- Always keep a fire extinguisher ready
A fully functional fire extinguisher must be kept nearby to deal with unexpected accidents. The fire extinguisher must be clearly visible to the fueling staff and easy to access in case of an emergency. The fueling staff must also be properly trained to use the extinguishers to deal with fire hazards.
The extinguisher must also be routinely checked to ensure that it is in proper working condition.
- Keep electronic items powered off
All electronic items (such as cell phones and portable music players) must be powered off during the fueling process. No electrical output terminals must be present near the fueling vehicle or the aircraft itself.
Since electronic items can cause sparking, they pose a grave threat in the vicinity of vehicles and containers carrying aircraft fuel.
- Avoid fueling aircrafts during bad weather conditions
If there are signs of a storm, it is best to delay the aircraft refueling process till the weather improves. Lightning strikes can create static discharges in the atmosphere and cause the fuel to combust.
- Make sure that the caps are tightly sealed.
Once the aircraft is refueled, the staff must ensure that the fuel tank caps are properly sealed.
Tightly secured caps will ensure that fuel vapors do not escape from the tank. A loose cap, on the other hand, can pose a serious threat to the aircraft and its passengers as it could lead to the spillage of the plane’s fuel.
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