A Modern Industry in A Classical City: IATA Fuel Forum

The 78th IATA Fuel Forum was held in Athens last week. Again it proved to be a popular event, and the InterContinental Athenaeum did well to accommodate the 798 delegates (as compared with the 439 who attended when the FF was last in Athens in 2008). Attendances were strong right through to the close – proving the attractiveness of the sessions themselves in addition to the networking opportunities of open forum. Some of the most interesting papers were presented on the final morning.

In his opening remarks Hemant Mistry included the usual goodbyes and recognitions for long membership of the Forum, and welcomed those who were attending for the first time.

The opening night reception and the Fuel Forum dinner were well-attended, and the various sponsors were thanked for these events, and for providing lunch and refreshment breaks each day. The dinner was held by the sea in a part of Athens known as Elliniko, and included traditional dancing and Greek hospitality. How many attendees would have been aware that this prime real estate and leisure area is but a stone’s throw from the previous Athens international airport ?

Moving on to the sessions themselves, despite being fleet of foot, your correspondent could only be in one conference room at a time. Therefore the following coverage is a personal record only (with apologies for any inadvertent omissions).

Rob Midgely of Shell was elected as Supplier Rep to the Technical Fuel Group (TFG); we wish him well. Sadly, neither Peter John of Puma (the departing representative) nor Michel Baljet of IATA were able to attend the Fuel Forum and the platform was somewhat lighter as a result.

On the first morning, IATA unveiled its Fueling Training Portal – which consists of an e-learning platform for Level 2 and 3 into-plane fueling. It is intended to streamline fueling procedures around the aircraft so that into-planers only have to learn one set of procedures for each aircraft type as opposed to meeting different airlines’ own procedures for each type. Efficiency and safety gains are anticipated.

Day 2 included discussion on digitalization of communications between fuel operations and cockpit crew – IATA is developing an initiative for essentially one interface to connect airlines with every fuelling partner around the world to help standardise fuel operational messaging.

Meanwhile in TFG there were some important sessions on safety and safety culture. Hydrant system design, construction and commissioning was again a feature of the meeting – and quite rightly so given the importance of this mode of aircraft fuelling at major airports, and the risks if things go wrong. John Pitts of eJet International advised the audience that a project is at risk if any of design, engineering, construction or commissioning are poor – and challenged the audience as to why hydrant system projects have problems too often: whether it is pressure testing done incorrectly, dirt/water in hydrant lines, inappropriate design details or another reason. There was some lively debate, and the key message was embraced – how to ensure that best practice in hydrant design and construction are disseminated throughout the world and that inexperience is not allowed in the project delivery chain.

Filtration is a vital part of all jet fuel supply chains, and in the light of the well-publicised SAP issues, the industry has taken responsible actions. A key session gave an overview of these actions from new filtration technologies under development through to joint A4A-JIG-IATA field trials. These same technical bodies gave their updates on various developments and initiatives under way.

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