Handling aircraft fuel must be done according to local airport safety regulations and rules. If not done properly the results can be really devastating to you and others.
Aircraft fuel is highly combustible and burning AVgas is only useful to us inside an engine while trying to rotate the propeller.
And with current fuel prices, any aircraft left parked overnight on an apron seem easy targets for fuel thieves these days. A small investment in lockable fuel caps is really worthwhile.
Make sure that you refuel with the proper fuel type!!
AVgas or gasoline engines are not designed to use JET or diesel fuel. Some gas turbine engines are able to use AVgas but with limitations on temperatures.
You will need to check the engine manual to see if it is allowed in case of emergency. Here we are going to discuss practices for handling aviation fuel in a safe way.
Fuel servicing personnel is according regulations trained in the safe operation of fueling equipment. As a pilot refueling your own aircraft you should observe at least the following guidelines:
When refueling your aircraft from jerry cans (NATO style or the plastic containers) it is best to use a good filter before pouring fuel into the tanks. Mr. Funnel sells (via aircraft parts suppliers) a very good electrically conductive fuel, water and debris filter/separator. They come in different capacities in terms of flow capacity (up to 15 USG/m). Recommended!
Make sure that when refueling from drums the standpipe does not reach to the lowest point in the drum, water and dirt will collect there. These last liters should not be needed. The drum should be positioned as follows: Set the drum on end tilted and chock it with the high side at 12 o'clock, the bung at three and vent at nine o'clock, this makes sure that water and dirt stays away from the standpipe.
Never use plastic containers to refuel aircraft, they build up static electricity easily during refueling and one spark and some fuel vapors is enough for a disaster. Read more on fuel and refueling in this Aviation Fueling Handbook from the Alaska Division of Forestry, it's a must read.
After refueling, move your aircraft away from the fuel station and do not leave it sitting there. Someone else might want to refuel and is it more than nice to clear the pumps when ready refueling.
Some aircraft have such limitations that it is not always possible to load four people with baggage and full fuel for a long trip. This might happen when the airplane was topped up the night before and you arrive with three passengers for a trip the next morning. The only option could then be (apart from a different aircraft) to defuel the airplane. This can be done by:
Make sure to take every safety precaution when defueling the aircraft as the dangers remain the same as with refueling.