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Drummed Jet Fuel - How Old Is Too Old?


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I agree 100% about not using questionable fuel. And as was mentioned it is usually what our families and passengers expect of us (not all the time apparently).

Saying that is as simple as sending it to the lab is a little misleading. The pilot has a lit if responsibility and pressure on him in this situation.

The variable you haven't mentioned is that usually the client has paid a HUGE cost to have this fuel (by the 100's of drums) shipped to the middle of nowhere. Often transported 6 drums at a time by helicopter or plane. What do you think he is going to say when the pilot tells him that his fuel is no good and he has to shut his program down (which will cost him a pile more).


Then what do you think he is going to say a couple weeks later when the lab confirms his fuel is good?Particularly when several other operators were willing to burn it. Of course they claim their superior training and equipment allows them to burn this fuel.


In this case, the operator is aware that the supplier has withdrawn the required certification of the fuel (based on age-until retest) prior to dispatching an aircraft. The clients exact words to us were the fuel was "expired in 2012". They could not even provide the suppliers name, let alone documentation. Yet, they (as well as another operator and pilot) are willing to use it long term; the desire to bring home a paycheck and save money is a powerful thing.

That's the truth.

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Received from TC March 3, 2014:


Thank you for bringing your concerns regarding the alleged use of expired fuel to the attention of the Department.


After a preliminary investigation, we have determined that the particular age of fuel is not regulated by Transport Canada. There are no specific regulations in place respecting the use of fuel that has exceeded the manufacturers recommended expiry dates.


Every Canadian Air Operator is required to have fueling procedures outlined in their Company Operations Manual. The onus is on each operator to follow the correct procedures regarding fueling of the aircraft to they ensure they are compliant with the Canadian Aviation Regulations.


We thank you for your interest in promoting aviation safety and for having brought this matter to our attention.


Shawn O’Connor

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mr. O'Connor


I am not at all surprised by this response from TC, however, we'll have to agree to disagree. In our opinion, this is clearly an operator/pilot who is willing to operate their aircraft in contradiction to the procedures within the approved flight manual for the aircraft. I am at the PDAC in toronto and unable to reference the CARs at this time; I'm sure you are aware their is a CARs requirement to abide by the Flight Manual procedures.


When the fuel is labelled with an ASTM/NATO/MIL certification, then labelled with a retest date or expiry date, the supplier has withdrawn the ASTM certification (as requireD for approved fuels in the flight manual).


We beleive, given this fact, that the fuel is no longer approved. There is no way for the pilot to retest in the field, so he might as well be burning stove oil.


I will keep your response on file in the event we hear of an incident related to this issue so I can provide it to the legal counsel of the families of those onboard. We feel this is clearly reckless and negligent; TCs position and reluctance to act on this prort could also be seen as such (in my opinion). I have provided with expert opinion which states this fact and no amount of procedures by an operator can correct this issue.


I should also mention that 3 days ago we received a call from the client. After consultation with their legal department, the client was advised that we were indeed correct. They have mobilized new fuel to the job location and our aircraft was dispatched immediately to complete the contract.

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After receiving the Above response we contacted Bill Yearwood from the Transportation Safety Board:


It was a pleasure to meet you the this past Saturday. We appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you (and the other attendees) helicopter safety with regards to mineral exploration.


I am currently dealing with an issue we feel is a significant safety concerns with regards to approved fuels and fuel quality. TC's unwillingness to act on regulatory matters such as these is an additional concern we have.


Could you please review the string of emails below. We would be very interested in TSB's opinion on this matter. I will forward you a few more e-mails with additional details shortly.


Feel free to contact me at any time.

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It's to bad that Bill is not in a drivers seat at TC.....his common sense approach, would go a long ways for both them and our industry.

I have only met Bill once; we both took part in a committee meeting with the PDAC health and safety committee, mineral exploration companies, drill companies and 2 other helicopter companies Saturday March 1. The purpose of the meeting was to help improve helicopter safety in mineral exploration (since 1980 40% of fatalities in this industry are helicopter related).

From what I heard from Bill, you are right, he seems to have a very common sense approach to safety.

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The general consensus at the meeting was that many accidents directly involve the client and "human factors". I'd say this topic also demonstrates the intimate relationship and evolvement that pilots/operators and clients have in our industry. We all need to work together to accomplish our goals safely instead of pinning the responsibility on the pilot in command after people die...

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