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What to do with fuel after testing

Hobiehawker

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I am becoming recurrent in general aviation after being away for about twenty years and want your opinions on the proper disposal of the fuel used after checking the sumps.

Back in the day when you checked the fuel with the tester it was a no no to put that fuel back in the tanks. After testing that fuel it was considered contaminated. I thought it to be an FAR and can't find that anywhere. My flight instructor said that the EPA got bent on the practice on dumping it on the ground (possibly understandable) and now the practice is to put it back into the tanks. I know there is a testing device that strains the fuel but none of the aircraft at the FBO has this tester in their aircraft. So after a partial drain of the sumps, they put that same unfiltered fuel back in the tanks.

I am curious on your thoughts on this practice and what you might be doing with this fuel.

Thanks for replies.
 

TheInsider

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I am becoming recurrent in general aviation after being away for about twenty years and want your opinions on the proper disposal of the fuel used after checking the sumps.

Back in the day when you checked the fuel with the tester it was a no no to put that fuel back in the tanks. After testing that fuel it was considered contaminated. I thought it to be an FAR and can't find that anywhere. My flight instructor said that the EPA got bent on the practice on dumping it on the ground (possibly understandable) and now the practice is to put it back into the tanks. I know there is a testing device that strains the fuel but none of the aircraft at the FBO has this tester in their aircraft. So after a partial drain of the sumps, they put that same unfiltered fuel back in the tanks.

I am curious on your thoughts on this practice and what you might be doing with this fuel.

Thanks for replies.

More and more airports (EPA) require you to safely dispose of the fuel. Personally, I see nothing wrong with pouring the fuel back into the tanks. If it looks clean, have the correct color and smells "good" pour it back. I know of several large flight school operators teaching students to pour it back in if it meets the criteria for uncontaminated fuel.
 

kf4amu

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Pour it back if it looks ok. Or just throw it on the ground if you don't believe the EPA.
 

Sy-bill

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After fuel is drained from the aircraft, it is considered contaminated until going through an approved process. This was either written at one time, or maybe always an unwritten, reasoned practice.

Since the EPA has taken a strong issue with the process of dumping the fuel on the ramp, the FAA now overlooks the process of dumping the fuel tested back into the tanks.

When I flight instructed 25 years ago, the FAA strongly frowned upon the process of putting any amount of what would be defined as contaminated fuel into the fuel tanks. For the most part we all dumped it on the ground. The sump is there in part to get rid of any sentiment in the tanks of which some is not readily apparent.

Although the environmentalists would have issue, the safest choice would be to not put the fuel back in the tanks. But to each their own.
 

Dash Power

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This is your typical old school vs new school opinion on this topic. Being old school I can see the reasoning behind the concern for putting the tested fuel back into the system. Back in my day the FAA would have probably grounded the airplane if that occurred. There has been more thought put into this subject mainly because of environmental concerns. The FAA seems to now accept the practice of putting the fuel back in the tank. At least if they did not accept that practice they certainly would have let us know about that.

My personal opinion? Unless you use the GATS Jar, don't put it back in the tank. It is plainly assumed to be contaminated coming from the sump. The GATS Jar is a good product.
 

Helmsalee

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Even a non tree huger like me can understand that throwing fuel on the ramp is bad. If you cannot bring yourself to put it back into the plane, save it and put it in your car. If you have one of those gas powered plane movers put it there. Lawnmower maybe.
Just my $.02,
Lew
 

acaTerry

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Get yourself a GATS jar and pour it back in.
I only have one problem with the GATS jar. If you read the instructions carefully, you'll notice it says that the jar / filter is ONLY usable if it is "primed" with fuel. So let's say that you do the priming with the fuel sump, but water comes out. You just rendered your filter useless. I like the old clear tube testers with the screwdriver bit at the end. And they're not so bulky. Insofar as the sample goes...I just follow the local procedure. Personally I have no problem with throwing it out on the ramp, but it should be thrown hard so it does not leave any puddles and soften the ramp (more of a problem on black tar ramps than concrete). Hell, I used to use it to wash oil off my hands when I was a lineman. And it never gave me cancer....
 

milky

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If you guys are really worried about an ounce of fuel on the ground, you are crazy. Evaporation will have it gone before it could ever be a factor to the precious environment. Have you seen the gallons of jet fuel that drips out of each jet on a Navy hornet base every day?
 

Hobiehawker

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Thanks for everyone's responses!

Has anyone heard of any actions taken for dumping the fuel on the ramp?

Thanks again for any replies.
 

VW Pilot

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Your flight school or FBO is suppose to provide catch basins or a place to properly dispose of contaminated fuel. If you test the fuel and there aren't any contaminates, it is safe to pour it back into one of the wing tanks. If you do this, be sure your fuel tester is clean and free of dirt and deposits before doing this. Try not to dump the fuel onto the ground or ramp. I know it is just a small amount but I've seen some sump the tanks onto the ramp...the FBO's management were fired. Welcome back to flying!!
 

jdubya

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Good post. I've been out of GA for a long time as well and had the same question.
 

avbug

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Since the EPA has taken a strong issue with the process of dumping the fuel on the ramp, the FAA now overlooks the process of dumping the fuel tested back into the tanks.

The FAA never condemned the practice, nor openly discouraged it. Many instructors and pilots, however, (myself included) do discourage it. The FAA isn't "overlooking" anything, as there is nothing to overlook.

Has anyone heard of any actions taken for dumping the fuel on the ramp?

Absolutely. The EPA made an example of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University by fining the university just shy of 25,000 dollars for pouring fuel sump samples on the ramp. ERAU, in turn, agreed to produce a public education program discouraging open disposal of fuel in exchange for the fines being dropped.

www.secureav.com/Comment-AMCC-V.b-Environmental.pdf

You can read the results at the above location, with the following excerpt concerning the specific action against and by ERAU:

Beyond the health, safety, and ethical reasons to exercise environmentally sound fueling practices are serious legal consequences for polluting. Consider, for example, the high-profile case at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. The University was fined $24,999 by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for violating the Florida Resource Recovery and Management Act by failing “to implement a procedure to prevent the release of aviation fuel after inspecting for contaminants.” A Consent Order between the University and the government required Embry-Riddle to create fueling practices training materials, including a video. The Embry-Riddle matter likely foreshadows a trend: new and more far-reaching measures with strong penalties for aviation-related pollution.

If you cannot bring yourself to put it back into the plane, save it and put it in your car.

And destroy your catalytic converter in the process. Good idea.

I thought it to be an FAR and can't find that anywhere.

You cannot find it because there is not now, nor was there ever any such regulation in 14 CFR.
 

brokeflyer

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And destroy your catalytic converter in the process. Good idea.

that's why you save it for your Hot Rod....like a 1974 dodge sedan from mount prospect police auction. It has a 440 cubic inch plant and it was made BEFORE the catalytic converter...so it'll run good on regular gas. So is it the new avbug mobile or what?

in my case, I got a '68 red chevelle convertible that I bought brand new. It has 16,466 miles on it.
 

Hobiehawker

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Your flight school or FBO is suppose to provide catch basins or a place to properly dispose of contaminated fuel.

I have flown at four flying clubs and FBO's in the last year. You say they are "suppose" to provide a proper way to dispose contaminated fuel. Not one has provided anything for this function. If they are "suppose" to provide such, where is the rule, reg, law that requires this to be available.

Thanks again for all involved with this issue.
 

Sy-bill

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So the state of Florida violated one of the, if not the largest slight schools in the country. Some non-binding "code of conduct" is referenced as some insight.

All what has been shared is that unless there is a specific state law or local rule in effect, dump away if you wish.

After careful consideration, unless there is an approved method of disposal near by, the ramp is where my contaminated fuel will lie.
 
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