Aviation Fuel Contamination Risk to Flight Safety

May 22, 2018

One indisputable fact is, engines do not run on water or anything other than what they were designed to burn. Water contamination of fuel that turns to ice can cause a blockage to an aircraft’s fuel system and engine can lead to rough rough performance or worse, complete failure, leading to a forced landing or crash.

The composition of jet fuel allows water to be easily absorbed (a phenomena know as saturation),  as well as  held in suspension within the fuel as free water (particles of water floating along with, but not mixing into the fuel). Water can be introduced into the fuel system in several ways. The fuel tank filler neck could be susceptible to ingress from rain or washing, or the fuel source itself could be contaminated during the refueling process. Condensation in the tank is inevitable, but enough condensation can lead to a hazardous volume of water in the fuel over time.

Water not only promotes corrosion in the fuel system components, when enough water is present, it can form ice crystals which freeze at low temperatures, clogging fuel lines, filters and components and putting the fuel supply to the engine at risk as well as the engine itself.

At NTS, our enhanced capabilities allow us to conduct water in fuel/fuel icing testing to military and SAE requirements to help manufacturers ensure the safety of their aircraft fuel systems and components. Learn more about fuel icing and contamination testing.

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