Standards For Airline Refueling
Council's goal: One safe procedure for each airliner
BY John F. Infanger, editorial director
Bob JandebeurBob Jandebeur, president of Million Air Tulsa, and a number of representatives from airlines and airline servicing companies are currently working on Draft No. 20 of a document that carries the working title, "New Joint NATA-ATA Airlines Fueling Standards." The fact that there have been 20 versions of this evolving document indicates the time and effort put into the two-year initiative.
The goal is to create one universally accepted and safe way of fueling each airline-category aircraft. If successful, it would bring about nothing short of a revolution for fixed base operators and airline servicing companies who currently have service contracts with airlines. It would also have a significant impact on training and on bringing new line technicians up to speed more quickly. And, it would be linked to the Internet to allow for interactivity and for updating procedures almost instantaneously.
Out Of Many, One
Explains Jandebeur, who serves as chair of the Airline Services Council that is spearheading the effort, "Fueling procedures of an actual aircraft are determined by each airline. So there's basically 50 different ways to fuel a 737, but there's really only one good way with a couple of variations, depending on an airline's specific uniqueness for that type of aircraft.
"So, the intent is to train the fuelers to the aircraft instead of the airline. And the mission is to get all the airlines to agree that there is a common manner of doing that."
The Council, which is affiliated with the National Air Transportation Association, has among its membership FBOs and airline servicing companies. Airlines — members of the Air Transport Association — that have been involved include Federal Express, United, Delta, and American. Other active members include Signature Flight Support, DynAir, and Hudson General.
ATA is a critical link in reaching the target, says Jandebeur. At a June meeting, ATA was represented by Ed Merlis, director of government affairs, and Robert Peel of technical standards. "They've agreed there's an opportunity," says Jandebeur. "They're the next step." Another meeting in July in Tulsa with the ATA technical committee is scheduled. After that comes the rest of the services industry.
Jandebeur is quick to point out that it is not an exclusive club. The Tulsa committee's effort has been of the behind-the-scenes variety primarily because the goal, at the outset, loomed far beyond the horizon. There would come a time, they reasoned, when they had enough consensus to present to the rest of the industry. That time is now.
Says Jandebeur, "We've kind of been holding something that belongs to the industry out there. We were hesitant to give it to others until we knew who it was we should get permission from." That needs to be a central organization such as ATA. NATA could coordinate the Internet interactivity, he says, and could recoup its administrative costs by charging nominal fees for testing, etc., he explains.
Globally, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is anxious about implementation of such standards, and has targeted funding for the program, according to Jandebeur.
Update; Other Benefits
The "Standards" document is by no means complete, explains Jandebeur, and the next step in the process calls for corporate agreement from represented companies. Then the rest of the industry must begin signing off. "We're open to suggestions," says Jandebeur.
To date, the document details procedures for Boeing 777 and 737 aircraft. "We wanted to push two aircraft through the template," explains Jandebeur, "so the rest of the 19 airplanes listed (in the document) could go through that template."
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