July 21, 2023

Max Air: Reps to probe alleged use of contaminated fuel in aviation industry

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By Levinus Nwabughiogu

The House of Representatives yesterday resolved to investigate rising incidences of alleged contaminated aviation fuel and non-adherence to standard procedures in the industry.

The investigation was prompted by the reported case of contaminated aviation fuel involving the main fuel tanks of Boeing 737-300 aircraft belonging to Max Air B737-300, which led to shut down of the Auxiliary Power Unit, APU, on Thursday, July 7, 2023, at Yola airport.

Considering a motion moved by Olawuyi Tunji under matters of urgent public importance at plenary, the House said the matter was a serious one that needed thorough investigation to prevent air crashes.

It, however, rejected an amendment to the motion which called for the suspension of the airline, pending the conclusion of the investigation.

Presenting the motion, Tunji said it had been confirmed that the airline got the contaminated fuel from an undisposed source.

He said: “The serious fuel contamination of the main fuel tanks of Boeing 737-300 aircraft belonging to Max Air B737-300, leading to the Auxiliary Power Unit, APU, shutdown on Thursday, July 7, 2023 at Yola Airport.

“Max Air has reportedly confirmed that it got the contaminated fuel from certain undisclosed aviation refueling outlet which eventually led to the unfortunate incidence and grounding of its 5N-MHM aircraft by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) following the incident via a letter NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/363 dated 9th July, 2023 suspended Parts A3 (Aircraft Authorization) and D43 (Aircraft Listing) of the Operations Specifications issued to Max Air Ltd with regards to the operations of the Boeing B737 aircraft type in their fleet.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) noted several occurrences involving Max Air Boeing B737 aircraft including: the Loss of Number 1 Main Landing Gear (MLG) wheel during the serious incident involving a Boeing 737-400 aircraft, registration marks 5N-MBD which occurred between take-off at Yola Airport, Adamawa State and on landing at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria on May 7 2023.”

Tunji noted that in recent times, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, had been receiving series of mandatory occurrence reports from airlines and other aircraft operators with issues related to water being found in the fuel tank of the aircraft.

He added that in the  ability of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and other associated aviation and oil regulatory agencies to address the increasing sharp practices in the aviation fueling industry where some unregistered portfolio jet fuel marketers using the throughput arrangement to supply aviation fuel with little or zero traceability in its supply chain, instead of the regulated Joint Venture (JV) model, was having negative impact on lives, properties, economy and the aviation industry.

“The regulatory agency in the aviation oil industry has demonstrated lack of capacity and failed to ensure certification of appropriate specification and proper handling of fuels to remain essentially free of harmful contaminants during production, transportation and distribution.

“The urgent need to maintain strict adherence to international standards and industry best practices in fuel supply and distribution, stop the rising cases of contamination of aviation kerosine, popularly known as Jet A1, in Nigeria,” he said.

Adopting the motion, the House gave the ad hoc committee yet to be inaugurated four weeks to conclude the investigation and report back for further legislative action.