Bermuda Team Uncovers Fuel Risk

January 25, 2012

Bermuda inspectors have uncovered risks in the aircraft refuelling process at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, concluding a “potential disaster” could be in the making unless urgent remedial steps are taken.

With most of Russia’s airline fleet registered on the island, a team of experts representing the Bermuda Department of Civil Aviation recently identified impurities that could lead to microbial corrosion in the fuel used at the major airport.

Such a defect could trigger a spontaneous engine shutdown.

“The inspectors believe that the cause of the corrosion is an old pipeline built in 1974,” reports one Moscow newspaper today [Jan. 25]. “Aircraft fuel is distributed from a tank from that era. Since then, airport technicians have repeatedly inspected the fuel reservoir and performed the required scheduled maintenance but the inside of the pipe has accumulated a lot of dross over the decades, which affects the quality of the fuel.

“Therefore, the fuel that flows from the tank is usually dirtier than the fuel that flows in, said one expert.”

Bermuda aviation authorities have sent a warning notification about the dangers of using this fuel to the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency [Rosaviatsiya], which is to resolve the situation.

Rosaviatsiya officials found five cases of spontaneous engine shutdown in aircraft based at airports in the region over the past few years. The last such incident occurred on November 15.

Bermuda officials believe that all these incidents are connected with flights from Sheremetyevo airport since no such incident has been recorded with aircraft from Moscow’s Vnukovo or Domodedovo airports.

At Sheremetyevo airport, journalists were advised to contact representatives of the fuel suppliers. TNK-BP insisted that it strictly observes fuel standards, fully complies with all applicable regulations, and has received no complaints from any airline on fuel quality.

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