By Louis Iba
THERE was palpable fear and apprehension at the weekend in Nigeria’s aviation industry as regulatory authorities and airline operators commenced investigations into allegations of possible sale of adulterated aviation fuel to airlines in the country by marketers.
The investigation was triggered by an alarm sounded by Mr. Femi Otedola, CEO of Forte Oil, on the large scale sale of contaminated aviation fuel which now comes in the form of Household Kerosene (HHK) a substitute for Jet A1 fuel. Otedola said the trend if not speedily checked could lead to more air accidents in the country in the nearest future.
He also said the illicit act could be a major factor contributing to the rising cost of kerosene in the country and might also be the cause of some of the air mishaps the country encountered in recent times.
Mr. Benedict Adeyileka, Director of Airworthiness Standards for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) who corroborated Otedola’s fears said the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had already issued a warming following an advice from aircraft engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce on the possible presence of contaminants in aviation fuel sold to airlines in Nigeria.
The report from the EASA, according to Adeyileka, indicated that during the trouble shooting on the Trent 700 engine of an aircraft which refueled in Lagos, it was found out that there were deposits of Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP), a contaminant known to have caused the valve of the engine to seize the fuel off position which has the capacity to cause a dual engine loss of thrust control.
The EASA report suggests that the SAP contaminant may have been introduced during fuel loading in Lagos.
Daily Sun learnt that the NCAA has issued a letter to both domestic and foreign airlines to come forward and assist in investigations to determine how true the reports by the EASA and Otedola’s allegations are.
“This is to inform the industry that the NCAA is investigating the matter and will require domestic and foreign airline operators that have experienced service difficulty or incident to submit or make available the nature of the difficulty and the aviation fuel supplier,” Adeyileka said.
However, some stakeholders have expressed divergent views on the allegations. According to Mr. Clement Okehalam, an aviation expert, there is a thin line between Kerosene (gasoline) and Jet-A1 because both contain similar properties that make it difficult to differentiate them.
His words: “Let me tell you, all over the world, most modern refineries produce Jet-A1 as gasoline and vice versa. So it will be wrong to regard such fuel as contaminated and unfit for aircraft.”
Similarly, Chairman, Airline Operators of Nigeria, (AON) Captain Nogie Meggison, dismissed insinuations making the rounds that some independent fuel marketers were selling kerosine as aviation fuel to airlines.
Meggison said if kerosine is sold as adulterated aviation fuel it could affect the performance of aircraft engines thereby reducing the lifecycle of aircraft engines powered by such adulterated product.
Source : SunOnline