Cases of fuel spillage have been reported to Airbus on A320 family aircraft equipped with fuel transfer jet-pumps in the center tank.
This article recalls the protections available against tank overfill. It explains why fuel spillage happened on the reported events and provides recommendations on how to avoid it.
OVERFILL AND OVERFLOW PROTECTION AND MONITORING
Fuel tanks on Airbus aircraft are designed so that fuel spills into the vent tank through their vent line in the event of a tank overfill. Each vent tank is equipped with a NACA duct where fuel can flow out and onto the ground if the vent tank is full.
Refuel valves automatic closure
On A320 family aircraft, the refuel valve for a fuel tank will automatically close when the targeted fuel quantity is reached, or fuel is detected by the high-level sensor fitted in the tank during refueling.
Protection is available to prevent fuel spill incidents from Airbus aircraft during refueling. Sensors fitted to the center tank and wing tanks will automatically close the refuel valves to stop the refueling operation, preventing overfill. Fuel spills are avoided if these protections are operating correctly and this should be checked by a quick test just before refueling the aircraft.
Fuel spillages were reported to Airbus on A320 family aircraft fitted with transfer jet pumps where the fuel transfer mode selection was mistakenly left in MANUAL. Ensuring that the FUEL MODE SELector is set to AUTO before refueling the aircraft will avoid a fuel spill incident.
WHAT TO DO IN THE CASE OF A FUEL SPILLAGE?
In the event of fuel spillage, Airbus recommends the following actions:
- Perform TSM Task “Refuel - Fuel Spillage From NACA Vent During Refuel’ to identify the root cause of the spillage
- Notify Airbus about the fuel spillage event and provide the following information:
a. Fuel Spillage Sheet (available in the TSM task)
b. Fault Reports
c. Shop Reports of replaced components if any, including Part Number and Serial Number.