How the Industry has Worked to Prevent Misfuelings

Dec. 12, 2023
New ideas and constant innovation are necessary to keep the industry operating safely.

There are many acronyms used across the aviation industry. Understanding what those acronyms mean is crucial to safe operations.

During a recent webinar presented by the Aviation Week Network, Keith Clark – senior quality control and technical representative at Phillips 66, quizzed attendees on their knowledge of acronyms as he offered an introduction to the latest initiative designed to prevent misfuelings from occurring at airports.

“If I asked you what VFT stood for, would you know? If I asked a pilot what VFT stood for, would they know?” Clark asked. “If I asked them VFR, they would say ‘visual flight rules.’ If I asked them IFR, they’d say ‘instrument flight rules.’ But would they know what VFT stands for?

“VFT stands for ‘verify fuel type.’”

Being introduced in 2024 is a new concept called VFR, IFR, VFT, Clark explained, noting the initiative is designed to encourage clear communication and accurate verification of fuel orders prior to takeoff.

The VFR, IFR, VFT program will provide business cards with a link to on the bottom of the card. The back of the card will have reminders to verify fuel type, tail number, aircraft type and fuel quantity – the information every pilot needs to give the FBO.

“We have to communicate and verify fuel type, quantity, tail number – every time,” Clark advised. “Be consistent.

“Way too often, when I’m at an FBO, I hear a pilot come in and say, ‘top it off,’ ‘fill it up.’ And the FBO person says, ‘I know what kind of fuel goes in there.’ We just want to hear it from the pilot and we want to communicate it back."

VFR, IFR, VFT is the latest effort to bring awareness to the importance of accurate aircraft fueling, enhancing previous steps taken by the industry to educate its workforce. was designed to ensure training is available to the entire industry. The website is continuously updated and Clark encourages all members of the ground handling industry to visit the site regularly.

In addition to training, the website offers additional resources like the Save a Life, Verify Fuel Type decals.

These decals are heart-shaped and can be applied anywhere fuel is handled on airport, including fuel farms and refuelers, or even in breakrooms.

“We made decals available for the trucks. They’re available for free,” Clark said.

“We also, this year, introduced aircraft wing fueling mats that have a (Save a Life, Verify Fuel Type) heart on it and,” he added, noting mats can be requested by emailing [email protected].

New ideas and constant innovation are necessary to keep the industry operating safely.

“I ask everyone to join the movement. Save a Life, Verify Fuel Type,” Clark said. “If you’re not talking to pilots about it, let’s start talking today. Let’s make sure when we see a bad placard, we bring that to the attention of the pilot.”

When important details during fueling operations are overlooked, tragedy can occur. Because fueling mistakes can’t be undone after a plane takes off, Clark emphasized that the industry must educate FBO personnel pilots, mechanics, instructors and anyone else who works around aircraft.

“We can go out there and change the industry,” he said.