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Viva France!
Apr 7, 2002
How far would you go to save your company money?

During an interview with the NTSB IIC on March 1, the president of Borinquen Air, the fuel vendor who refueled the accident airplane, said that the accident pilot specifically asked his employees to service the airplane with Jet-A turbine fuel, and that his employee was only complying with the pilot's request. The president emphatically denied that his employee's were in error, and that the accident pilot was only trying to save money by purchasing Jet-A turbine fuel instead of Avgas.

KigAir said:
How far would you go to save your company money?

Weird. I suspect the FBO may take some heat for not using the standard "J-Spout" nozzles on their Jet A trucks. Although, it is quite possible that they frequently service aircraft that use Jet A but don't have have the proper receptacle. I have seen aircraft like that.

One question I do have, though, from a liability stand point, is that if ground service personnel are asked to service an aircraft contrary to service placards, what should be done? Some operators don't like to pay the extra charge for prist (okay, usually not a life or death situation) and others, well, may want you to use a fuel type other than indicated. At what point are you supposed to shut up and be a good FBO employee, and at what point are you supposed to tell the pilot he's smoking crack?
Couple of strange things here.
The request for JetA was reported by the fuel vendor. We haven't heard the pilot's side. Same with the notion that the pilot requested JetA to save $$" - this is only the fuel vendor's statement, not the pilots. The vendor may have strong motivation to lie here, I'd like to hear all sides.

The vendor also states the pilot did not speak Spanish which is significant I think. Also that the refueller even mentions that the turbine version looked very similar to the piston version.... now, why did he even bring that up??

That the pilot may not have noticed the JET A truck next to his airplane is not mentioned, if he was around I would hope he'd be watching - it does say he was called inside to complete paperwork.
Sounds like he had the fuel receipt but we do not know that for sure. I try to always get one, and check it out (amount and type) as I am leaving the FBO.
I think he could be proven to be deficient in his preflight but so could a lot of us.
As a refueller the liablility is way too high to simply do as the pilot requests regardless of what you know to be safe. You just cannot do it. My guess is there was no awareness on the part of the refueller of the possibility of a problem here. What if the pilot had asked for 100 gallons of seawater? Come on.
I know we pilots aren't always the brightest bunch, but gimme a break. Even a lowly student pilot should know that piston engines will NOT run on Jet fuel. Even small amounts of contamination can cause high CHT's and result in damage and/or failure. Sounds like there may have been a breakdown in communication due to language barriers, but in the end the wrong fuel was put in the plane. In any case, the fuelers thought it was another turbine 690B, and the pilot failed to notice both the Jet truck during fueling and the charge for Jet fuel on the bill. Ultimately the responsibility rests with the PIC, but the problems with the fuelers and the equipment needs to be addressed as well. That vendor sounds like a sleazeball trying to say the pilot asked for jet fuel to save money. What a schmuck. "Mister - if I had a rubber hose I'd beat you..."
SDCFI said:
That vendor sounds like a sleazeball trying to say the pilot asked for jet fuel to save money. What a schmuck. "Mister - if I had a rubber hose I'd beat you..."

I've personally had dealings with that individual. I can't argue with your take on it. I wouldn't place any credibility in what he might say
Probably a language barrier, but I'd definately suspect the 'new hire', his/her supervisor and ultimately the FBO for not doing their job. The Pilot should have watched the fuelling as this is a common error with rampers that are unfamiliar with the aircraft type.

The company I currently work for operate 500B Commanders. We are required to watch the fuelling to ensure that AVGAS is being dispensed. In training I remember the Chief Pilot telling me a true story of how one of our airplanes had been topped off with JET-A, even though our airplanes have the round inlet restrictors. Apparantly, the FBO fuel turbine helicopters that required a smaller nozzle. I don't recall where exactly this happened (it was the midwest), but the PIC was able to return to land.
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I honestly don't know why they make airplanes that run on Jet A but require the round nozzle adapter. I've seen a handful that are turbo conversions from the old avgas models, but I still think that if it takes Jet A, the port should be the old J-Spout.
Who can we sue, lets see - which has more $$, the a/c manufacturers or the feul providers, helllet's nail them both. Anyone with haf a brain knows avgas should be Round port, Round nozzle and JetA should be Square port, Square nozzel. \
My 3yr old knows all about that from his little plastic. play-station
Over and out, more licquor awqaits me.

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