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59 chapter eight CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER RESEARCH The objective of this synthesis is to provide an overview of fueling system operations at all size airports by describing stakeholders, typical elements, common issues, and current practices and standards. This study was broad in its approach because a substantial amount of detailed information on air- port fueling systems and safe handling exists. This is owing to the important responsibility an airport organization and its tenants have for operating a fuel facility in a safe and efficient manner. Unsafe operation of such facilities can have catastrophic results in terms of the effect on peopleâs lives, capital equipment and facilities, airport and aircraft operations, financial performance, legal exposure, and environmental guardianship, to name a few affected areas. The airport owner is ultimately responsible for what occurs on the airport. There is a strong desire and effort to standardize much of what occurs in the fueling business, from the design of facilities, equipment, and components, to the processes used to deliver fuel to an aircraft. This is evident by the number of standards and recommended practices that have been devel- oped to provide guidance to fueling providers and agents, equipment and vehicle manufacturers, and airport operators. Those involved in the fueling process choose the standards they will adhere to and incorporate them into their facility operation. Airport organizations can further use lease or minimum standards to support the standards. For certificated air carrier airports, Part 139 provides a minimum standard for safety in fueling operations. GA airports can benefit from the same. In reviewing the various standards and literature on fueling components and systems, it was found that easy access to the standards require purchase and/or licenses from the sponsoring organization. This study did not locate a centralized public database of accidents or incident reports that could ulti- mately be of value to the airports. Although data are collected through insurance and oil companies, the data generally are retained within those organizations and not widely disseminated. A review of accident data indicates that any component can fail at any time but that many fuel incidents are the result of human error. The collection of data into a central database available to the public is not apparent. The risks a fueling operator faces are not well disclosed, and better assessment would help the industry. Fuel systems can be complicated, and technical expertise is important, from the negotiation of leases, to the design of the facilities, the use of equipment, the testing of material, the delivery of fuel, and the maintenance of facilities. Airport owners need counsel and education. There are many resources, including manuals, references, publications, and name-brand fuel providers, that can pro- vide expertise and training. Especially at airports with fuel consortiums, study participants suggested engaging individuals or firms with experience in consortium arrangements to assist in lease, project development, and construction. There are both aviation and environmental regulations that affect fueling operations. For airports with FAA operating certificates, Part 139 requires the airport organization to address safety issues in fueling operations. At GA airports, knowledge and resources generally are not available to the same extent as is required at Part 139 airports, yet GA airports have the same responsibility to the public and the environment for safety oversight. Interviews for the study found that larger airports have dedicated individuals on staff to address legal and environmental requirements. Smaller airports, especially GA airports, lacked similar organizational capabilities.
60 To that extent, airport operators tend to trust fueling operators on the airport. The study found that although trust was the norm, it was important to verify that trust through inspection, audit, leases, and the establishment of rules and regulations. Audits at small GA airports appear to be few and inconsistent: few because of the perceived cost, and inconsistent because local inspectors may not have familiarity with aviation fuel operations or state or local regulations are not specific. This synthesis did not discover a centralized public database of accidents or incident reports that could ultimately be of value to airports. Collection and reporting of data on accidents, incidents, com- ponent failures, and equipment repair could assist airport operators and others to better understand risks and improve safety. Research is suggested into fuel system component failures and human factor issues because they have an impact on a safe system. The publication of hazard identification and failure mode and effects analysis can better educate individuals and raise greater awareness of safety-related fueling practices. Research that compiles state requirements on environmental and fuel-related issues can be useful, especially as an assist to local communities seeking better inspections and enforcement of standards. The broad spectrum of ownership and fuel delivery possibilities suggests a more focused study on a particular market is warranted. In particular, communities with GA airports would benefit from a synthesis on the advantages and disadvantages of municipal ownership, along with decision-support tools. A number of factors enter into the debate, such as the level of activity, volume of fuel sold, infrastructure available, management capabilities, and goals of the community. A quick-start guide of what to do and what not to do in the transfer of ownership at GA airports would be valuable.