Ben Visser’s article, Can you hear me now? Are cell phones bad news around fueling operations? (May 5 issue), is very timely with the new Light Sport Aircraft. I just purchased a Tecnam Bravo.
The reason is that the Rotax engine really does not like leaded fuel and the manual says to use premium auto gas. In fact, if you are going to use 100LL you have to change the oil every 25 hours, instead of 50, and you can expect higher engine maintenance. But getting auto fuel is easier said than done because there are only a tiny percentage of airports with auto gas. Perhaps if Cessna were to get into the LSA arena they would also use the Rotax and that would perhaps trigger more availability in time.
I think there is a need here for more information about static electricity than Ben’s article contains. He has identified the problem but not addressed the fix. For example, if you ground the fuel truck/container to the aircraft itself, does that provide any protection? That would seem to be what happens when you have a fuel truck come to the aircraft. Both the truck and the airplane are insulated from the ground by rubber tires so there would not seem to be any real “ground” when you connect the two vehicles.
Or, how about grounding the airplane and truck together (as above) and then ground one or the other to an “in-the-ground” ground?
I mention all of this because I think with the availability of LSA there is a crying need for an authoritative discussion of what we should be doing — not just telling us there is a problem.
Maybe Ben needs to expand his advice by addressing the static solution, although I suspect he will be reluctant to tackle this because of potential legal implications.
I guess what I am saying is perhaps GAN should undertake to pull together the best practices and publish it.
Editor’s Note: Our fuels expert, Ben Visser, did tackle the issue of what pilots should be doing in a subsequent column, which ran in the June 9 issue: Grounded: What’s the proper way to ground during refueling?