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Watch your fuel fills!


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This past weekend I brought my helicopter home from Arizona and had a near miss with the wrong fuel. Prior to leaving I did the usual top off and was going to do a little practice with a fellow pilot to get the cobb webs out since I had not flown for a month. The fuel man was relatively new on the job and was so excited to see and gas up the helicopter  - his 2nd or third one. We talked a bit and I started to do some paperwork while he filled up the tank. When he was done we had a cordial conversation and then he drove off. My fellow pilot, who had been getting things out of his hanger came over, saw the truck driving off and said "Was that the truck that filled you up?! That is an AVGAS truck." Well, my helicopter is a turbine and although you can run the motor for 5 hours during its life it is really only for emergent situations. Obviously, Jet A in a piston is a worse situation. I drove off after him and confirmed everything, we got the fuel system drained and things eventually worked out a few hours later.


In retrospect this was a situation created by a series of problems. There was a new guy, we got distracted with friendly conversation, the sun was in my eyes when he arrived so I did not see 100LL on the truck due to the glare, the fuel guy did not notice the Jet A decal on the helo, I did not pay attention while he was fueling so I did not notice the difference in smell, I did not notice the difference in size of the truck (100LL trucks are smaller at this airport, this is my first turbine and I am used to flying a piston, and finally I did not notice the credit slip when I signed it.


Thank god for my fellow helicopter pilot saving my butt---I sure would have hated to have problems out in the desert on my way back to California.


Hopefully you all can learn from my mistake. ::bowdown::

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, helidoc.  Another reason for PROPERLY checking the fuel during pre-flight, folks.  Often, I see pilots give a "little squirt" for their visual inspection.  That could get you into trouble, people!


1)  If you gave a "little squirt," you probably wouldn't notice any change in fuel color because you are looking what was in the line.


2)  You can cause expensive damage to the aircraft by doing a "little squirt," too.  Specifically, IF there is a particle (i.e. small piece of paper) that gets trapped in the valve during this "little squirt," it will probably stay there.  It has happened before, and owners have had to replace the ENTIRE fuel tank because of it (something about a closed system and that the valve can't be replaced by itself).


These are just a couple reasons why you should PRESS HARD and HOLD when performing the fuel check.

FILL your sample container to the top and get a good look!

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Just another note about the fuel check. At the time I had some Jet A left in the tank (60 gal) which is clear but it took quite a long time before I could see the blue color of the Avgas. We probably drained over 40 gallons before the blue was seen - probably due to the differences in the density of the two fuels. Therefore a fuel check would not have helped.
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  • 1 month later...
I was doing an inspection on a Hughes 300 we had on a spray contract.After putting the jar under the filter and draining the fuel,I noticed it wasn't blue.so off I go any look in the honda pump in the mix truck to see the avgas it its tank instead..The guys were putting 5 gal jugs out on the spray blocks near portable pumps and tanks of goop..there was no marking to see the difference,and they were dumping fuel in as they were gooping here up..
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