May 1, 2010 12:00 PM
Allied Aviation fuels air travel through Houston
The fueling services provider helped design an extensive underground hydrant system that supplies jet fuel to all of the terminals. The company also assisted in building new fuel storage tanks at the airport that increased total storage capacity by 200%. Today, the company manages an airport tank farm with a 13-million-gallon total capacity.
In addition to the tank farm, Allied Aviation's operation at IAH includes a large and diverse fleet of vehicles that provide refueling services throughout the airport. The fleet is overseen by Minter, Allied Aviation's maintenance manager at IAH for the past nine years and a member of the maintenance crew for 10 years prior to that.
Allied Aviation's fleet mix at IAH includes refuelers with capacities ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 gallons, hydrant sump trucks that hold 800 to 1,500 gallons, and hydrant trucks and carts with pump rates from 300 to 750 gallons per minute. Primary vehicle suppliers are Garsite and Bosserman Aviation Equipment Inc.
The newest refuelers have non-code aluminum cargo tanks, Gorman Rupp pumps, a substantial jet fuel filtration system, LC Meter registers and meters, and reel-mounted Goodyear delivery hoses with Whittaker dry-break nozzles. Cabover trucks predominate and have 175- to 235-horsepower engines and automatic transmissions. All of the vehicles have brake interlocks that are actuated during aircraft refueling.
All of the equipment gets a tough workout virtually every day. Allied Aviation handles 800 to 850 flights a day at IAH, which occupies about 10,000 acres. Each airplane that is refueled at IAH takes anywhere from a couple hundred gallons to 30,000 gallons of jet fuel. On average, it takes an hour to refuel each airliner.
Trucks endure a lot of driving miles and many engine hours of pump operation during the fueling process. “We put a lot of miles and wear-and-tear on our vehicles,” Minter says. “We see a lot of drivetrain, engine, and tire wear.”
Vehicle maintenance is handled in-house. Monthly preventive maintenance includes a detailed inspection. Lubricants and other fluids are checked and are replaced at scheduled intervals. Cargo tanks and fuel delivery systems last through several chassis replacements, which occur at approximately 10-year intervals.
Minter's maintenance responsibilities include supervision of the airport's sprawling in-ground jet fuel distribution capability that includes filtration, piping, and hydrant system. “Keeping water out of the fuel is a critical concern,” Minter says. “Fueling coming into our tank farm goes through several filter/water separation units, and it goes through more filtration at the point of delivery to the airplane.”
As a member of the maintenance crew, Minter got plenty of experience with the hydrant system that moves jet fuel from the tank farm to the terminals and gates where the airplanes are parked. Once a month, Minter would help service the hydrant system, which has 134 low-point, 46 high-point and 56 service-point locations, and 10 tanks and two pump pads.
In order to do this, the pressure in the hydrant system would have to be brought down to a workable point and an assortment of adaptors of varying sizes and types would be used to drain the hydrant points of any water that could potentially contaminate the jet fuel. Sump trucks with vacuum tanks ranging from 800 to 1,500 gallons are used to clear the oily wastes liquids from the hydrant sumps.
While the system was able to meet the needs of IAH, it was full of any number of inefficiencies that would increase the chance of operator injury or fuel spills, which would have deleterious effects on both the bottom line and the environment. “We didn't have any dry breaks,” Minter says. “We just had connections onto a butterfly valve where the pressure would be built up to around 150 to 180 psi. If the valve wouldn't hold when the connections were unhooked, you'd have to shut the whole system down, or otherwise you'd have an overflow. Sometimes, because of the pressure, the caps would pop off and almost hit the operators' heads. There were incidents where people got hurt, where there were fuel spills, and we just couldn't depend on the standard quick connects that we were using at that kind of pressure.”
Minter says he knew there had to be a better and safer way to do the job. When he became maintenance manager, he turned to Ray Lingo of Raco Industrial Products (an OPW Engineered Systems representative) in Houston for some suggestions. Lingo recommended OPW's Kamvalok Dry Disconnect System.
“Ray introduced me to Kamvalok and it's the best thing since sliced bread,” Minter says. “These fittings are absolutely working like we expected them to.”
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