Annual calibration keeps the planes fuelled up


When travelling through an airport, have you ever stopped to think about how the thousands of litres of fuel are delivered to the aircraft, all day, every day, like clockwork?

The key is a nationwide network of fuel transport pipelines that connect refineries and storage depots direct to airports and with different grades of fuel sent down the lines it is important that temperatures and pressures can be reliably monitored.

Each year, Denca undertakes ATEX standard calibration testing for one of these aviation fuel transport lines, in the North of England.

Working with both the fuel supplier and their airport customer, Denca’s technical team calibrates the temperature and pressure instruments at five separate locations where the fuel line lies beginning at the refinery where the fuel starts its journey, out to the supplier’s aviation storage tank from where it goes on to the customer’s aviation fuel storage tank on site at the airport via a dedicated mid-point monitoring location next to the fuel line known as “the field”  and also the fuel supplier’s instrument facility next to the airport.

Safety is paramount

Aviation fuel is extremely flammable and Denca instrumentation technicians must follow strict Hazardous area protocols. The team wear specialist anti-static overalls and other PPE in order to carry out these specialized calibrations. The calibration equipment also must meet the requirements for use in a flammable atmosphere, carrying appropriate certification to validate its suitability.

End to end monitoring

At the refinery Denca Instrument Engineers calibrate instruments including temperature and pressure indicator gauges and pressure transducers. Additionally two more calibrated measurements check the pressure differential between the refinery and the fuel suppliers storage tank. This check monitors the conditions of two filters used to remove any residual sediment remaining within the fuel.

Should the pressure be high and outside of acceptable parameters, it’s time to replace or clean that filter thus keeping the fuel for the airport clean and the flow running smoothly.

On the fuel transport line at the suppliers storage location Denca’s Instrument Engineers additionally calibrate a range  of temperature gauges, pressure gauges and pressure transducers.

The fuel line itself runs over several miles from supplier aviation fuel storage tank to the onsite storage tank at the airport and is responsible for the delivery of several hundred million litres of fuel each year.

Commercial benefits too!

The measurement of fuel pressure and temperature in the line plays a part in calculating accurate volumes of fuel transported. This is important to the airport customer in his evaluation of fuel usage and costs.

Just before the fuel line arrives at the Airport, Denca calibrate four pressure gauges and ten pressure transducers at the fuel supplier’s own instrument station.

The fuel then arrives on site at the airport where Denca calibrate the airport’s own instruments before finally landing at the Airport Storage tanks. These instruments feed data directly to the Airport’s fuel pipeline SCADA control system giving constant information regarding the volume of fuel flowing in.

A modest cog in a big machine

Modern aviation is an incredibly complex machine and we acknowledge that Denca’s role is modest, but important. We are proud to have a small part to play in something that touches so many people and where our good performance means we don’t get noticed!

Next time you are jetting off on holiday or business, if you notice your aircraft being fuelled, spare a thought for how that fuel gets there!

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