For much more on flying safely see
<> .

C2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc. All rights reserved

A FLYING LESSONS special report for March 8, 2008

Suggested by this week's mishap reports

FLYING LESSONS uses the past week's mishap reports as the jumping-off
point to consider what might have contributed to accidents, so you can
make better decisions if you face similar circumstances.

Feel free to forward this message for the purpose of pilot education.

Today's lessons:

. A Cirrus SR22 crashed just after takeoff from Rio De Janeiro,
Brazil, killing four. The investigation
117&akey=1> reportedly confirms the Cirrus was misfueled with jet fuel.
The factory-turbonormalized airplane features the word turbo prominently
on the tail of its "factory" external paint. Internet chatter
speculates this styling <> may
have contributed to misfueling the airplane with Jet-A1 (turbine) fuel
and subsequent engine failure after application of takeoff power.

. I've on two occasions turned the jet fuel truck away from
similarly marked early factory-turbocharged Beech Bonanzas myself (at a
trusted-until-then local FBO), when inadequately trained FBO employees
responded to the word turbo on the side of the cowling. We all need to
be vigilant.

. Jet fuel contains far more stored energy than 100LL aviation
gasoline. This is one reason why jet engines are more powerful than
pistons, and why diesel engines are typically much more efficient (in
terms of power per unit of fuel) than those powered by avgas. Jet
fuel's tremendous energy release when burned is what causes catastrophic
detonation at high power settings if accidentally burned in 100LL

. Misfueling detonation is not usually apparent until an engine
is brought up to high power settings, so you probably would not notice
unusual engine indications on start-up or taxi. You might see elevated
CHTs or EGTs during the engine run-up and should see such on
takeoff--know approximately what to expect, compare expected to actual
temperatures, and immediately power back, abort the flight and fully
investigate any suspected aircraft misfueling.

. One way to differentiate between Jet-A and 100LL is fuel
color. Check for the proper, blue tint added to avgas (my experience is
the shade of tint varies from one load of fuel to another). Jet fuel
has no additive so it will appear yellowish to clear. When checking
fuel color, don't do what most pilots do-hold the sample up to the sky
to inspect it-because even in cloudy weather sky color may make a clear
fuel sample appear slightly blue. Instead, hold the sample cup against
the side of the airplane or another light-colored object that will
better contrast against dye in the fuel.

. Another test is to smell the fuel. Experience teaches the
different odor of jet fuel. Both Jet-A and 100LL present serious
inhalation hazards, however, so this is not a safe means of detecting
fuel type.

. Yet another differentiation is the feel of varying fuel types.
Jet-A has an oilier, "slicker" feel than 100LL when rubbed between
finger and thumb. Skin contact with aviation fuels is hazardous,
however, and tetraethyl lead in 100LL is especially hazardous. So feel
is not a safe means of checking fuel type.

. 100LL is more volatile than Jet-A, meaning avgas evaporates
more quickly. One test to detect possible misfueling is to pour a
sample of suspect fuel onto one end of a sheet of paper, and a sample of
known 100LL on the other end. After just a few minutes in the sun the
100LL side will be essentially dry, the more volatile fuel quickly
evaporating away. Pouring fuel onto paper on the ground is not an
environmentally sound practice, however, making this an undesirable
method for confirming fuel type as well.

. The best defense against aircraft misfueling, then, is not to
detect improper fuel in your airplane's tanks, but to actively prevent
the wrong fuel from being put in your airplane in the first place. In
virtually all misfueling cases fuel is dispensed from the wrong tank
into the airplane; it's extremely rate when the tank or truck itself is
misfueled and then fuel from the "right" tank or truck is pumped into
the aircraft. One reason we fly is to get to our destination and on our
way quickly, and it's common in many places to shut down at the FBO and
leave airplane servicing and parking to the staff (even at our home
airport). But the best way to prevent misfueling is to stay with the
airplane until the airplane is fueled. If you're in a hurry on arrival
insist the FBO not fuel your airplane until you return to depart, and be
there to watch. It's not convenient, and in hot, wet or cold weather
it's not comfortable, but you are the final quality control of what is
put in your airplane's fuel tanks.

. Be especially cautious if your 100LL airplane has the word
"turbo" or "turbocharged" emblazoned on the airframe or cowling.

. If jet-fuel capable diesel engines continue to make inroads
into airframes traditionally powered by 100LL engines, it will be even
more important for pilots to actively monitor aircraft fueling.

. For more see these aircraft
> fueling best practices.

Questions? Comments? Send me a note at

For more information, commentary and analysis see
<> .

Fly safe, and have fun!

Thomas P. Turner, M.S. Aviation Safety, Master CFI

2008 FAA Central Region CFI of the Year

Mastery Flight Training, Inc. <>

I welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact Mastery Flight
Training, <> Inc.

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C2008 Mastery Flight Training, Inc. All rights reserved.


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