Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Rapid Refueling and NFPA 407




NFPA 407, Standard for Aircraft Fuel Servicing outlines the necessary requirements to prevent fire and provide for life safety during fuel servicing of aircraft.  This standard addresses every issue from the type of equipment used, to fuel system design, to operations and personnel.  


Though fuel servicing an active aircraft is prohibited by this standard, section 5.21 does allow the rapid “hot” refueling of helicopters (Jet A or Jet A-1 fuels only).  However, there are six criteria that must be met:


  1. Pilot must be FAA licensed and remain at the controls at all times.
  2. All passengers must be deboarded and moved to a safe location.
  3. No boarding or deboarding may occur during the fuel operation.
  4. Only those individuals trained in rapid refueiling operations can perform this function.
  5. All aircraft openings in the vicinity of the fuel inlet port are to remain closed and secured.
  6. Only approved nozzles, flow, and equipment may be used.  Fuel servicing vehicles are to remain at least 20’ from the aircraft.  However, if a curb or barrier is present it shall prevent the vehicle from coming within 10’ of the aircraft.


These are listed as the minimum requirements for helicopter rapid refueling.  NFPA 407, provides in-depth guidance on each of the listed components.  It provides clear guidance on the loading and unloading of passengers, and safe distances during fuel servicing operations, outlines proper training requirements for fuel servicing personnel, identifies proper location and spacing for aircraft to be fueled, and it provides guidance for all equipment used in these operations.

For further information, you can view a read-only file of NFPA 407 at http://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards.   I would also recommend reading the article, “Helicopter Hot Fueling”, by DeborahAnn Cavalcante of Diversified Aviation Consulting.