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Drummed Jet Fuel - How Old Is Too Old?

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Most major fuel suppliers have a maximum shelf life of 2 years in ideal storage conditions. The CSA standard for all aviation fuels (AvGas included) at airports is 1 year.

 

Is anyone burning fuel from drums that are more 2 years past the fill date?

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Using the CSA Standard, B836-05, as an industry best practice, drummed fuel should be tested 12 months after filling. If laboratory testing finds that the jet fuel meets specification you can store it for another 12 months. And so on and so on till you use the fuel.

 

Chevron marks our drums with a 9 month expiry date.

 

Bulk jet fuel at aerodromes should be tested every 6 months. The reduced shelf life is due to atmospheric venting vs sealed drums.

 

2 year or older fuel can certainly be used but you would want to know its good before filling an aircraft with it.

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As Jim said....when I was flying the dew line back to Tuk from Spence Bay in 1987 I used fuel drums from 1968-72...good inspection, good filters, good color, good to go....:)

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As Jim said....when I was flying the dew line back to Tuk from Spence Bay in 1987 I used fuel drums from 1968-72...good inspection, good filters, good color, good to go.... :)

 

I'm surprised you remember so far back Bob... :P

 

First thing I do when I get to a fuel cache is look at the drum's exterior condition (bumps & bruises, rust, etc.). Then I look at how they're stored (upright or on their sides, off the ground or not, bungs at 9 & 3 o'clock or not, presence of a water line above one or more bungs, etc.). Only after that do I look at fill/retest dates on the drums. I've fueled from drums where they've been exposed to sunlight for so long the labels are unreadable, but the fuel looks/smells/tests fine... (I did write "test" and not "taste") :rolleyes:

 

I've seen cases where fuel was delivered to a cache, stored outside uncovered and never taken off the pallets. After a bit of rain, the tops of the drums are full of water, then enter a few hot & cold cycles, and voila! You have drums that are full to the brim when you open them after only a month or two, because any expansion airspace in the drums has been filled with water.

 

In 2012, I had an incident where I refueled at an airport from a fuel truck that I had been refueling from exclusively for a couple weeks (my only source of fuel). About halfway to camp, my low fuel pressure light came on. I was able to reduce power and limp into camp, and when we checked, we found all three filters were fouled with brown sludge. When we called the airport, they investigated and discovered their truck was contaminated. Somehow a pile of crap had come loose in the tank and gone through the pump and filters. Moral to the story: Fuel contamination doesn't only come from drums. How many people here fly off of bases where clear & bright tests are performed on an irregular basis at best ?... <_<

 

I find the best fuel caches are those where the drums are stored inside upright (like a sea can). This way, you can open a drum and test it without disturbing the fuel before you roll it out to the machine.

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On a ferry flight to the Arctic, we also had to use drums from a fuel cache that were quite a few years old. Didn't have much choice.

Checked the contents with a flashlight, left the standpipe a few inches up from the bottom anyways to not use the bottom of the drum.

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As Jim said....when I was flying the dew line back to Tuk from Spence Bay in 1987 I used fuel drums from 1968-72...good inspection, good filters, good color, good to go....:)

Did you know that the fuel in your drum from 1968 (or oven from the 80's) was significantly different than the jet fuel in today's drums?My research tells me that Changes in the refining process means modern "clean" fuels have a significantly different composition than fuel refined just decades ago. A byproduct of this is that Modern fuels degrade faster and have a shorter life. There have also been significant changes to the additives that are used in the fuels.

 

Based on this, I am not sure what you did in the 80s is relevant to the procedures you should be using today.

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Lets say hypothetically you were taking some guys out to dogpatch nowhere and some guy that sells fuel in that area points out some camps on a map and tells you there is lots of fuel,good fuel.So later you land and the fuel is there alright and some of it has 1984 on it and the newest says 1987 .Now this is 1997.So you do all the good stuff that has been mentioned here about color,water test,etc,etc.Then the guys you are flying around who actually told you about said fuel cache before you talked with the before mentioned fuel man now want to know if you are going to put THAT fuel in the machine!What are YOU going to do? When you are 20 miles out from getting back to civilization you tell your passengers this is were you would have started walking!!!

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