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Date added: 11/01/2011 Why You Need a WORKING Fuel Level Instrument

 

Fuel Gauges: Do they Indicate Properly?

by Tom Bennett, Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, Aircraft Maintenance and Manufacturing, Prairie and Northern Region, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

There have been multiple incidents of fuel exhaustion over the past few years. In the last issue of the Aviation Safety Letter (ASL), you read about fuel starvation due to improper fuel selector condition. In this article, I would like to talk about another common factor in fuel starvation incidents: fuel gauges that do not indicate properly.

Some incidents were very public, whereas most incidents went unnoticed with the exception of being listed in the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS). Some incidents were directly related to poor fuel management by the flight crew(s); however a few came as a surprise to the flight crew, as the fuel gauge(s) still indicated there was fuel in the tanks. An accurate reading of the fuel gauge may have prevented many of these occurrences.

There is some confusion about the need for serviceable fuel gauges. This confusion is especially prominent in the general aviation world. As both an aircraft maintenance and manufacturing inspector and an enforcement investigator, I have heard statements like: “The gauges have never worked properly. I just keep track of time in my tanks,” many times.

Such a statement is contrary to Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) 605.14(j)(i), which states: “No person shall conduct a take-off in a power-driven aircraft for the purpose of a day VFR flight unless it is equipped with a means for the flight crew, when seated at the flight controls to determine the fuel quantity in each main fuel tank […]”. This regulation is then carried through in sections 605.14, 605.15, 605.16 and 605.18 of the CARs, to apply to all power-driven aircraft in all nature of flights (day/night visual flight rules [VFR]/instrument flight rules [IFR]).

Furthermore, many aircraft must have their fuel gauges working as per their type certificates. For larger aircraft, especially transport category aircraft, the fuel gauges can be deferred by means of the minimum equipment list; however, this usually involves using other measuring devices installed on the aircraft and making complex calculations.

 

Fuel Gauges that indicate incorrect fuel levels
 

A common factor in fuel starvation incidents:
fuel gauges that do not indicate properly


Recently, a commercial pilot was fined because one of his fuel gauges was not working while he was operating an aircraft. In this case, as in others, the fuel exhaustion caused substantial damage to the aircraft during the forced landing. The pilot applied to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC) to seek relief from the $750. The TATC upheld the Minister’s decision.

The Aviation Enforcement Branch has also sanctioned aircraft owners and operators for unserviceable fuel gauges found during Transport Canada’s oversight activities. The maximum sanctions for an infraction under CAR 605.14, 605.15, and 605.16 are $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a corporation. The maximum sanctions for an infraction under CAR 605.18 (IFR) is $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a corporation. Inspection, maintenance and repair of a fuel indication system seem less costly, in my opinion.

Another common excuse I hear is that the gauges have always displayed faulty readings or they are too difficult or expensive to calibrate. As an aircraft owner, if you rely on this flawed thinking you are exposing yourself to numerous risks. First and foremost, you risk running out of fuel. This can lead to personal injury/fatality and damage/loss to the aircraft. Second, you are exposed to regulatory action by enforcement (fine or suspension). I think we can all agree that none of these are pleasant outcomes.

For the aircraft maintenance engineers (AME) in this scenario, I have not yet seen an inspection where the functionality of the fuel quantity indication system is not checked. Be careful what you sign for on the inspection forms and subsequently, the maintenance release. Following manufacturers’ instructions for inspection, maintenance and repairs will never lead you astray.

Most pilots and AMEs are aware that any accident or incident results from a series of events; there is never just one cause. Anything we can to do tighten up against the possibility of an error is a step in the right direction. 


Reprinted with permission
Crown Copyright and Licensing, Public Works and Government Services Canada
Crown Copyright Clearance CCL FILE # 2011-33369
(c)Transport Canada, Aviation Safety Letter Issue 1/2011


For solutions to all the above as well as many other fuel quantity indication issues see our
200 Series Fuel Level instruments.

Dual Tank Fuel Level Instrument Three Tank Fuel Level Instrument Four Tank Fuel Level Instrument Five Tank Fuel Level Instrument Six Tank Fuel Level Instrument

Date added: 10/12/2011 Piper Aircraft Selects Aerospace Logic

The following select excerpts from communication between Piper Aircraft and Aerospace Logic are noted:

"Piper Engineering has now elected to move forward on Aerospace Logic FL202 Gauge."

"We (Engineering) have evaluated all of the proposals you have provided and downselected the Aerospace Logic FL202 Gauge as our choice for this replacement."

Further announcements will be made as and when appropriate.


Date added: 09/22/2011 200 Series - Phase 2 - Data Submission

All TSO application data for the 200 Series Phase 2 project has been submitted to Transport Canada who will forward this to the FAA.


Date added: 08/11/2011 SkyHunter 406 ELT Testing

Aerospace Logic Inc. has completed successful environmental testing for the Pointer Avionics SkyHunter 406 ELT.

For additional information contact Pointer Avionics directly.


Date added: 07/18/2011 Product Price List - 2011-2012

Our 2011-2012 Product and Price List can now be downloaded in .pdf format by selecting the link below.

It is effective 19-September-2011.

Aerospace Logic 2011-2012 Price List


Date added: 06/01/2011 New Shipping Charges Policy

Effective 01-JUN-2011 the following shipping policy is in effect due to high increased costs of shipping by courier (FedEx, UPS and DHL):

  • We charge actual shipping costs as listed by the courier companies plus 5% (credit card processing discount and currency exchange).
  • All products are shipped in standard sized boxes (10" X 6" X 6") per instrument or instrument kit.
  • For an exact shipping rate visit the carrier of your choice and calculate the rate from our postal code (CANADA L8P 4V1).
  • Unfortunately we no longer ship on customers accounts without prior arrangement.

An alternative to shipping with a courier is via Canada Post / USPS Express. This is effectively and air economy service at 1/3 of the courier cost. All packages are fully insured and traceable at all times. Typical cost (per instrument) is $35.


Date added: 01/11/2011 200 Series - Phase 2 - Final TSO Review Completed

A completed functional and documentary review of our 200 Series (Phase 2) product grouping was conducted with our designated Transport Canada Certification Engineer on Tuesday January 11, 2011.

All functionality, operations and TSO requirements were accepted as presented.

This process continues on schedule without any changes at this time.


Date added: 12/09/2010 200 Series - Phase 2 - TSO Certification Plan Acceptance

A review of our 200 Series (Phase 2) TSO Certification Plan and new product grouping was conducted with our designated Transport Canada Certification Engineer on Wednesday December 8, 2010. Based on this review we have received, amongst others, the following two written confirmation statements:

Following our review of your "Product and Certification Overview", I find this Certification Plan to be satisfactory in all aspects and hence is "accepted".

The schedule is satisfactory and is also acceptable.

The final TSO product, functionality and performance reviews are scheduled for the week of January 11, 2011.

This process continues on schedule without any changes.

Date added: 11/26/2010 200 Series - Phase 2 - TSO Confirmation

We have received confirmation from Transport Canada of our notice of intent to certify the 200 Series Phase 2 products. The application is officially filed under NAPA # O-10-0857.

Date added: 11/15/2010 200 Series - Phase 2 - TSO Application

We have today formally submitted our TSO application for the second grouping of the 200 Series products. As the process moves forward we will announce progress at the key points.

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