Guide To a New Guide

Guide To A New Guide

Creating a user-friendly fuel facility operations & maintenance manual

Sarah SmithBy Sarah Smith, President, Madison Environmental Services

June 2001

Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Manuals for fuel storage systems are in demand by fuel facility managers, and the majority want a manual that accurately describes the system within a reasonable budget — an obstacle to date. Here are some guidelines to what a reasonable O&M might look like.

Today, a facility with one storage tank could expect to spend a couple of thousand dollars completing an O&M manual. An average aviation storage facility could expect to spend $5,000-$10,000; larger systems will require more investment.
In the past, creating a fuel facility O&M manual involved writing lengthy descriptions of the system, inserting product cut-sheets, and preparing elaborate facility engineering "as-built" drawings. Today we have technologies that allow for the development of a practical and user-friendly fuel facility O&M manual at a reasonable cost.
An O&M manual should clearly establish procedures for all facility functions as they pertain to fueling methods, quality control, storage, receipt, and transfer of fuel. The manual must serve as a practical reference and training manual for employees. ATA 103 recommends that aviation fuel storage operators have O&M manuals in order to establish uniform policies and procedures.
The O&M manual should accomplish the following:
• Ensure safe and dependable flow of quality jet fuel to aircraft through fuel trucks or hydrant systems.
• Prevent fuel spills through preparedness and employee training.
• Provide employees with a safe working environment.
• Establish employee awareness of system operation and preventative maintenance.
• Ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations and industry standards.
The O&M manual should include an overview section that describes airport operations, the layout of the airport, a description of the aviation fuel storage facility and equipment data, safety and fuel quality control policies, and definitions of fuel facility terms. Some of this information may already exist in other documents (Spill Prevention Countermeasure and Control Plan, Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, ATA 103, etc.) and could be transferred into the manual with little effort.
The core section of the manual should describe the operation and maintenance of the system. This core section is the most critical section and requires the most customization. Since no two fuel systems are alike, this section should describe exactly how the equipment works to receive and dispense fuel; the mechanics of the system; maintenance of the system; and everything in between including fuel ordering, inventory control, valving for transfer of product, metering, fuel sumping, etc. Maintenance requirements are based on regulations, industry standards, and the manufacturer’s recommendations for equipment inspection, testing, repairs, and adjustments.

Facility Inspection
An inspection of the fuel facility is mandatory in preparing a facility-specific manual. The inspection should provide the data needed for the core section and confirm or establish new procedures for the O&M of the system. Inspection should be performed by a qualified representative familiar with the mechanical operation of the facility and knowledge of the fuel receiving/dispensing operations.
Facility diagrams and maps of the operation are mandatory for an O&M manual in order to illustrate the process for receiving and dispensing. For example, the valves are numbered in the inspection phase to identify valving order for receiving or dispensing fuel and the valve numbers are linked to the corresponding number on a diagram. In the manual’s text, the valving sequence could be "hyper-linked" to a digital photograph of the valve to assure the reader understands the valving sequence.

Use of Technology
The electronic and digital technological advancements that are occurring worldwide can increase the efficiency and quality of O&M manuals. Geographic Information System (GIS) and database software can be used to develop an electronic record of the fuel facility. Smart maps can be quickly developed that link text and photographs and can illustrate current, predicted, or future fueling operations.
A fuel facility manager can also use sensors that send data through radio waves or phone lines to a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system to automate and control fuel facility operations. These technologies can be implemented at the facility and over the internet as a remote management tool. Each manager should choose and implement those technologies that decrease long-term operation and compliance costs while increasing the quality and safety of the fuel facility.
Many airports are in the process of integrating GIS into their operations. Common layers in an airport GIS illustrate airport tenant sites, fuel facilities and hydrant systems, stormwater pathways, deicing facilities, utilities, and environmental data. The advancement of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology enables additional airport features and descriptive information to be added to the GIS platform. Fuel facilities in particular are conducive to these technologies.
For example, if as-built drawings are not available, a diagram of the equipment is still required as a key part of the process. During the inspection phase, a GPS unit, personal data assistant (PDA), and digital camera can be used to collect information that can then be downloaded directly into the GIS. These data collection methods can result in a much more user-friendly electronic version of the O&M manual at a significant cost savings over conventional methods.
Another developing technological area for fuel facilities is in SCADA applications. With tank-level sensors installed in the tanks and line-pressure sensors installed in the piping, the operator can have a remote view of the current conditions at a fuel facility using SCADA applications. The valves can be operated automatically if line pressures decrease below pre-determined levels. Also, pre-determined responses can be programmed in the event of releases or spills from the system.

Moving Forward
Manuals are only effective if they are put to use. Creating a user-friendly document that includes accurate facility drawings, hyperlinks to current regulations, and site photographs for visual and interactive aids is an effective and efficient approach to operating and maintaining an aviation fuel storage facility in accordance with acceptable standards.
For owners or operators who have multiple systems, creating a template document saves considerable time overall in preparing individual manuals for each facility. The template approach also assures a standardization of the procedures and implementation process.

About the Author

Sarah Smith is president of Madison Environ-mental Services, a consulting firm based in Boxford, MA. She specializes in FBO/airport-related environmental management and resolution, and has managed projects for aviation, petroleum, and industrial interests. She may be reached at (978) 352-5086 or