What does the latest ATA 103 update mean for fuel handlers?

Airlines for America recently announced that it is changing its ATA 103 standard for quality control of jet fuel at airports to immediately permit the use of water barrier filters.

Bulletin 2022.1 notes that water barrier filters meeting EI 1588 qualifications are an acceptable replacement for filter monitors that use super absorbent polymers (SAPs).

Filter monitors containing SAP are being phased out of the industry after an IATA Special Interest Group was made aware of several incidents where the presence of SAP in engine fuel system components / of the cell had been confirmed. The Special Interest Group has determined that “the continued use of Filter Monitor filtration systems in aviation fuel handling is unable to reliably meet aircraft and engine operating requirements.”

Water barrier filters are now the second replacement technology for filter monitors accepted by the ATA 103.

“The monitors have been very popular for many years,” said Steve Berry, fuel quality and safety manager at the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), who will participate in a webinar on Thursday to further educate the industry. on this update.

“The process of developing and qualifying new filtration technology requires years of extensive research and development to ensure these technologies meet the rigorous specifications we demand from aviation fuel filtration. So it’s not like you can just flip the switch and come up with an entirely new solution.

ATA 103 provides a formal mechanism for in-flight fuel suppliers who have adopted the ATA 103 standard to begin using water barrier filters that meet EI 1588 qualifications, Berry explained.

“There’s an important distinction to be made when we’re talking specifically to a GA audience,” Berry said. “ATA 103 has sort of become the de facto standard everyone goes to for standard specifications for quality control of jet fuel in the United States. But it’s only enforceable to the extent that anyone one adopts it.

“It’s adopted and recognized by the airlines. But there are a lot of people in the GA market who also use the ATA 103.”

Replacements accepted

Whether fuel handlers have monitor filters on their truck or use a filter monitor vessel with SAP filter monitors, Berry explains that there are three alternative solutions available today.

“The first and the one that people haven’t really gone for because it’s prohibitively expensive is to replace that monitoring vessel with the water separator filter that meets the EI 1581 qualification. is expensive because you’re basically going with a whole new filter and a whole new setup, but it’s also – in some applications – just impossible to use,” Berry said, using hydrant carts that are much smaller. compared to tank trucks, for example.

Another option is to keep the same filter monitoring vessel and use a dust filter that meets EI 1599 criteria, and then fit the system with an electronic water sensor that meets EI 1598 requirements.

“It’s also acceptable in the 103 and other international standards,” Berry said. “It’s a solution that some have already adopted, especially outside the United States. But it works a bit differently whereas a filter controller with a single cartridge or element was able to handle both free water and particulates. The dirt guard is only capable of filtering out particles, then it relies on a downstream sensor – the electronic water sensor – which can detect water, then essentially shuts down the refueling operation if any water is detected.

Water barrier filters qualified according to EI 1588 are now the third option.

“He serves as a true walk-in replacement,” Berry said. “At this time, the 1588 qualifies 2 water barrier filters”. These water barriers, you can install them in existing filter monitoring tanks and they protect against both particles and water. Plus, they don’t require any downstream modifications and you don’t have to replace filter bowls. It is therefore an attractive design option.

While filter monitors were designed to absorb water to keep fuel dry, water barrier filters repel water.

“The barrier medium is able to repel free water and prevent any solid or particulate contamination from moving downstream,” Berry explained. “Media is hydrophobic.”

Bulletin 2022.1

Berry will discuss A4A Bulletin 2022.1 and Water Barrier Filters with Amy Carico, Director of Fuel Services and Technical Standards at A4A, and Rob Guglielmi, Global Business Development Manager for Parker’s Aerospace Filtration Division Hannifin Corporation during a webinar on Wednesday, February 23 at 2 p.m. (EST).

Berry said the webinar will offer insight on the topic and provide details on what water barrier filters are and how they came about. There are also significant differences in approach when it comes to water barrier filters versus a filter monitor or filter water separator.

“There are some changes to how we traditionally approach some of our operational aspects in terms of differential pressure and things like that and what to expect,” Berry added.

The webinar aims to explain what the changes mean for onboard fuel providers. Berry encouraged NATA members, those offering aircraft refueling operations, and anyone with an interest in aircraft refueling to attend.

“They could be on the GA side of the house or the business side of the house,” Berry said. “This issue really affects the entire industry. No matter your clientele, if you refuel planes, it will affect you.

You can find more information about the webinar and registration here.

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