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Fuel related aviation accidents: JUHI needs to establish laboratory for product testing

QUALITY of Jet A1, otherwise called aviation fuel was called to question as industry players are recommending the Joint Users Hydrant Installation (JUHI) at the airport to establish a laboratory to test the product to assure the quality and ensure it is not contaminated

A stakeholder, Group Captain John Ojikutu  who pointed out the lines of accidents linked directly to contaminated fuel said that there have been no fewer than nine (9) serious incidents and accidents linked to the product and wondered why it hasn’t been made a priority to forestall further accidents from that area

He made this known last Friday while making his contributions at the LAAC/AIB Conference: Preventing Human Factors in Air Accident Investigations held at the weekend in Sheraton Hotels and suites where he said accidents that have to do with fuel contamination was becoming commonplace asking the relevant agencies to implement recommendations.

According to him, the industry led by a committee had actually gone to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to find out why the situation persists and were told that the Department can only vouch for the product until it leaves their depot

“There are a lot of safety recommendations from about nine accidents that involve the quality of fuel. Since 1992 no one has repaired the pipeline that burst so that the same quality of fuel from that end will land here. When we went to the DPR they can only guarantee the fuel that left their depot. They told JUHI to set up a laboratory and the latter said it’s too expensive.

Ojikutu said, “Over the years, there has been evidence of fuel contamination in the AIB reports on some air accidents as there have been a number of safety recommendations on such reports. ART members wanted to know the level of compliances to the relevant safety recommendations made on contamination of fuel for DPR and the NCAA that are still yet to be seriously addressed or complied with.

He said that at an ART BBM couple of years ago, Captain Noggie Megisson once raised concerns on the quality of fuel the markets were supplying the Nigerian airlines. Specifically, he said:”that kerosene was being supplied as jet-A1. Femi Otedola of Forte oil was the only marketer that responded to clear his product but nothing heard from the others. However, to confirm what Captain Noggie said, the DG NCAA responded that he also received a letter of complaint from the EUCAA that the European airlines flying to Nigeria have reported contamination in fuel that they buy in Nigeria.”

“Twice, the AIB Committee of the implementation of safety recommendations visited the NNPC DPR to figure out their response to the safety recommendations. The DPR told the committee that they can only guarantee the quality of fuel that leaves their depot for the airport’s but not the delivery.

“They have however advised the marketers under Joint Unified Hydrant Installation (JUHI) to establish a test laboratory but JUHI had claimed it has no funds to establish the required laboratory. The question on safety to ask at the conference is; how would the AIB and DPR safety recommendations be complied with? The NCAA as the civil aviation authority should urgently get itself involved urgently to ensure JUHI complies with the DPR recommendations.”

“The bridging of fuel from the NNPC depots with truck tankers began following the ruptured of the pipelines that supplied fuel to the airport in 1992 and there had been no appreciable effort from the NNPC to repair them. There had been repair proposals twice to the NNPC to; partner with JUHI to repair the pipelines; JUHI and the airlines to jointly repair the pipelines or the repair and operation of the pipelines and the hydrants be given as concession to a private company for a period of twenty to thirty years for the company to recover the cost of the repairs.”

National coordinator State Safety program, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Etete Ifeanyi who also reacted to the query said: “The quality of the fuel that comes, I know that the NCAA had gone to pay a visit to the DPR and then what was agreed when they discussed with JUHI is that they may have to establish a laboratory but that has not been fully concluded, that they should establish a joint laboratory where before these fuel are taken to the dump they have to evaluate the physical and chemical properties of that fuel. I believe that may have to be resurrected and discussed so it can be implemented”

Dr Harold Demuren, a former Director General of the NCAA who participated  via Zoom  however drew the attention of all to the functions of the NCAA, DPR and other agencies in other industries stating that the NCAA cannot usurp the functions of the DPR and vice versa.

He also said that when the AIB becomes a multimodal investigation bureau, it should ask those questions that would put paid to the matter once and for all.

Demuren said,” I want to refer to one question, and that is the question about fuel. Fuel is very interesting because its major and what I am saying here and please I am not in any way speaking at all on behalf of the NCAA, I don’t work for the CAA again, I am only speaking for the aviation industry. In every industry in the world, there is one regulator, one regulator not two. For the banking industry it is the Central Bank of Nigeria the governor decides and directs that industry if you don’t like it you remove him.

“For Oil and Gas it is the NNPC and you have the DPR who are doing the job for them. You can’t have NCAA start regulating fuel in the industry. They can mention of what airlines to do but they don’t regulate fuel.  We don’t import fuel in the country, we can’t tell you what kind of fuel you can import, it is NNPC and we have discussed this… because it will be that NNPC they use helicopter and aircraft for the onshore and offshore and NCAA decides the safety standard for those aircraft not NNPC. They may have a higher standard but the minimum standard is determined by this in other words one regulator.

“But what is interesting is this, when you see something like that…and very soon AIB will be intermodal, they must be able to say or tell NNPC, this is our problem. They must mention their name, mention the fuel marketer and get to the root of the problem,” he stated.

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Nigerianflightdeck is an online news and magazine platform reporting business stories with a bias for aviation and travel. It is borne out of the intention to inform, educate as well as alter perceptions with balanced reportage.

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