In order to conduct safe and reliable air operations, Air Force requires confidence in the entire fuel supply chain – from the refinery to the wing-tip of the aircraft.
To minimise the risks, Headquarters Air Command has developed a Core Risk Profile (CRP) for the Air Force aviation fuel capability.
Safety occurrences and issues relating to aviation fuel have been well reported for many years. However, risk management has often been focused and context dependent, with no overarching reference covering the entire system.
In response to this issue, the Air Force Safety Board requested a detailed risk assessment of the Air Force aviation fuel capability.
Analysis of Defence Fuel Supply Chain Event reports highlighted inconsistent fuel handling practices, frequent maintenance/construction induced incidents, and investigations lacking key information.
This analysis, coupled with other reporting and data, informed the development of a CRP, which broke down the data, identifying four notable hazards – loss of fuel containment, ignition of fuel vapour, loss or degradation of fuel supply and loss of fuel quality control.
In doing so, the CRP laid the foundations for how best to minimise these risks across the refinery to aircraft wing-tip continuum.
Flying Officer Jay Fitzpatrick, fuel capability adviser with Headquarters Combat Support Group, was influential in the development of the CRP.
“The CRP will be adopted as the primary reference for Air Force aviation refuelling risk management and assurance activities,” Flying Officer Fitzpatrick said.
“This will ensure the risk to personnel – as well as capability, mission, financial, reputation and environment – is eliminated or otherwise reduced so far as reasonably practicable.”
At the local level – for aviation fuel operators – there have been many improvements identified in the CRP. These include changes to fuel sampling procedures, the introduction of new equipment, and the development and implementation of improved decontamination processes.
However, safety in the workplace requires a proactive approach from all involved.
Ongoing reporting of safety events and issues is vital. Risk management – prior to and during – tasking needs to be maintained. Strict adherence to the Permit to Work process is essential.
Defence has a moral and legal obligation to ensure risks to the health and safety of personnel arising from military operations are eliminated or otherwise minimised so far as is reasonably practicable. Advances in fuel risk assessment and safety procedures is just one example of how we aim to meet this obligation.