During the planning stages of your flight, look up each potential refuelling location in ERSA and see what forms of payment they’ll accept. If possible carry a credit card and carnet cards for Mobil, Air BP and Aero Refuellers. Aero Refuellers have made it easy to set up an account and they’ll send you all three cards if you wish. Ph: 02 6041 1599.
In the ERSA entry for each location, make sure you read the fine print for any potential call-out fee! Fuel prices in the outback can be hefty enough without an unexpected $50 bonus for the refueller added on to your bill.
Refuelling can also entail an element of airmanship and common courtesy. If you see that refuelling requires an off-site refueller to make a trip to the aerodrome, think about that. You are required to give him as much notice of your requirements as possible but if you have the option of refuelling on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, why not check what would be more convenient for the refueller? He may be coming out on Monday morning anyway.
With the welcome increase in the number of locations around Australia that provide bowser refuelling, you may not come across the necessity to use drum refuelling very often. However, sometimes there is no choice and it pays to be clued up on the tips and traps that are involved in accessing the liquid gold via a drum.
There is a long list of precautions you need to take before accepting drum fuel. Amongst the top priority items you need to check are the age of the drum, how it has been stored and the accessibility of a fire extinguisher. However, there is much more to consider and CASA has produced excellent YouTube videos on both drum refuelling and bowser refuelling. Take the time to watch them.
Know the rules!
Familiarize yourself with to AC 91-15 – Guidelines for Aircraft Fuel Requirements. This document contains incredibly useful and practical advice on fuel management, including:
- Accurately calculating amount of fuel required for your flight
- Reserve, holding, variable & alternate fuel
- Weather forecast items to consider
- Establishing fuel on board
Finally, never just assume that fuel is going to be available; always make the phone call well ahead to check. Perhaps floods have prevented the fuel truck from getting through. Perhaps an air rally has just beaten you in, and chewed up all the supplies. Even large regional centres like Mildura have been known to run out; although at least here, there are several nearby options, unlike if you were to stop at Halls Creek and find the locals have been using the bowser for wickets and it’s not pouring as well as it used to.
Always think outside the square and don’t get caught with no viable options for obtaining fuel.
- ATSB Safety Awareness report “Starved and exhausted: Fuel management aviation accidents”
- CAAP 234 – Guidelines for aircraft fuel requirements
- CASA DVD “Safety on the Ground”, covering safe practices for drum and bowser refuelling
- CASA’s Flight Planning Kit includes a “Time in your Tanks” model, and a pad of tear-off Nav/Comm logs and fuel log tables.
- CASA YouTube videos - Drum Refuelling & Bowser Refuelling
- CAR 234 – Aircraft fuel requirements