In July of 2014 NAAA reported that we had submitted a First Draft Proposal to suggest changes to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA’s) Standard 407 For Aircraft Fuel Servicing which set a policy against hot-fueling. Many of NAAA’s proposed changes to allow the practice in the ag aviation industry have been accepted and are incorporated into the revised 2017 Standard.
NFPA develops safety codes, standards, recommended practices and guides on fire and safety issues through a consensus standards development process which brings together volunteers representing varied viewpoints and interests to create these recommendations. NFPA Standard 407, another name for the Standard for Aircraft Fuel Servicing, began development in 1951 to apply to fuel servicing of all types of aircraft using liquid petroleum fuel.
Until now, the standard’s language has prohibited “hot fueling” of fixed-wing aircraft, which is the method of fueling while the onboard engine is running. While these standards are not binding nationally, they could, and have, become law should individual airports or other regulating agencies decide to adopt the standards under their regulations. States may also choose to create regulations based on these standards, as the state of Nebraska and others have already done.
NFPA accepted many of our recommendations and, as of the 2017 NFPA Standard 407, will recommend, and thereby allow, hot fueling…for turbine-powered aircraft using Jet A or Jet A-1 fuel in aerial application.
NAAA believes hot fueling should be allowed in our industry because of safety concerns resulting in the potential for engine fires on start-up, equipment stop-start wear, and because many aircraft in the ag aviation industry are equipped with bottom couplers for the fuel system, nearly eliminating the chance of a spark igniting during the fueling process.
That’s why NAAA proposed an exception to their prohibition on hot fueling for agricultural aircraft (both fixed-wing and rotor). NFPA accepted many of our recommendations and, as of the 2017 NFPA Standard 407, will recommend, and thereby allow, hot fueling (what NFPA calls “rapid refueling”) only for turbine-powered aircraft using Jet A or Jet A-1 fuel in aerial application. This fueling is permitted only if the sources of ignition of potential fuel spills is located above the fuel inlet ports and above the vents or tank openings. Specific conditions should be followed when rapid fueling: a licensed pilot shall be at the aircraft controls; passengers shall be deboarded; only designated, properly-trained personnel shall operate the fueling equipment; doors and windows in the immediate vicinity of the fuel inlet ports shall be closed; the fuel must be dispensed either through a close-coupled pressure fueling port or into an open port using a deadman type nozzle with a flow rate not to exceed 60 gallons per minute; and specific clearance must be maintained between the fueling equipment and the rotating components of the aircraft.
NAAA will continue to work to protect our industry from unnecessarily burdensome regulations like this one, and we’ll be sure to keep you apprised of this issue.