Increased Threat of Microbial Contamination for Grounded Aircraft

Conidia Bioscience this week “celebrated” 20 years of support for aviation this week, although it didn’t seem like a normal celebration in these times of lock-down, says the company. Conidia manufactures the FUELSTAT Microbial Contamination fuel test kits, a product that allows operators and MROs to test the fuel in their tanks within 15 minutes and help protect against corrosion and blockages caused by microbial growth in fuel tanks, both in the wing and in storage. “This is a serious issue and there is strong guidance from IATA, JIG, ASTM and the aircraft OEMs to support this testing,” says Tim Canfield, marketing manager.

With most of the world fleet of aircraft grounded this issue is compounded, with more regular testing required. We are seeing huge demand for these test kits from airlines and MROs across the globe. We normally supply well over 100,000 of these test kits every year. Some of the issues are new and we are working with all parties to understand the potential problems and share best practice with all operators. The information we are collating is growing daily,” Canfield says.

Microbial contamination should be carefully monitored, and OEM guidelines should be followed as to the frequency of testing, remedial action and mitigation of risk at this time with grounded aircraft. One issue reported is that the fuel in tanks is not subject to the normal turbulence of daily flights and the regular refuelling that mixes and spreads any potential contamination.

“One operator in the Middle East reported to us a novel and simple solution they have employed to try and avoid this issue at little cost,” says Canfield.”They tow the aircraft around the apron as often as possible to agitate the fuel in the tanks and this also helps in rotating the tires to prevent flat spots, as well as other knock-on benefits.”

The company says they are working on an information portal to share best practice and guidance for microbial testing, soon to be published on www.conidia.com. More general information on microbial contamination issues and testing is already available on their website and they say they will keep providing updates as soon as practical.