Service Difficulty Advisory

AV 2010-01
2 March 2010

Fuel Containing FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester)

This Service Difficulty Advisory (SDA) provides guidance to owners and operators of turbine engine powered aircraft regarding the presence of FAME (bio-diesel) in jet fuel.

The aviation fuel community, which includes aircraft and engine manufacturers as well as petroleum producers, has formally approved the use of aviation jet fuel containing less than 5 parts per million (ppm) (5 mg/kg) of FAME. This is currently included in the Defense Standard 91-91 jet fuel specification and will be incorporated into the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D1655 jet fuel specification. 

Transport Canada concurs with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) determination that the performance properties of aviation turbine fuel are not impacted with up to 30 ppm of FAME under restricted, short-term usage. 

Manufacturer service information regarding FAME in jet fuel takes precedence over this SDA in all cases.

The shipment of biodiesel in multi-product pipelines creates the risk of cross-contamination of jet fuel with biodiesel components. The bio-component in biodiesel, FAME, is a surface-active material. In theory, as the biodiesel passes through, it can adhere to pipe and tank walls and then release from the walls into the subsequent product, which may be jet fuel. Also, small amounts of diesel containing FAME remaining within distribution manifolds, tanks, vehicles, and pipes, can result in traces of FAME migrating into jet fuel transported through the same components.

At high enough concentrations, FAME can impact the thermal stability of the fuel, which could lead to coke deposits in the fuel system. FAME contamination can also impact the freezing point of jet fuel resulting in the gelling of fuel. These conditions can result in engine operability problems, and possible engine flameout. Jet fuel specifications are currently being updated to specify that levels of FAME in jet fuel below the detectable limit of 5 ppm are acceptable.

Operation with jet fuel containing 5 ppm or more of FAME would not be in compliance with the aircraft and engine operating limitations, unless approved service information authorizes FAME levels of 5 ppm and greater.

Transport Canada recommends that owners and operators of turbine engine-powered aircraft do the following:

If available, incorporate service information regarding FAME levels in jet fuel from aircraft and engine manufactures, into their maintenance program.

Incorporate the following recommendations into the company’s Quality Assurance Program required by CAR 706.07 only if service information is not available from the manufacturer. (See ANNEX A)

Contact their fuel suppliers to verify they have implemented quality control and inspection procedures to ensure fuel they deliver does not contain more than 5 ppm of FAME.

Develop contingency plans and procedures with their fuel suppliers to ensure that, should a contamination event occur:

  1. Owners, operators, and authorities are informed immediately.
  2. FAME levels specified by the aircraft and engine Type Certificate (TC) holders are not exceeded.
  3. Procedures are followed to comply with the TC holder’s instructions.
Consult the latest applicable industry documents on this issue published by organizations such as the Air Transport Association, International Air Transport Association, aviation fuel producers, and the Joint Inspection Group (JIG).

Additional background information is available in JIG Bulletin No. 16, “UK FAME Related Jet Fuel Product Quality Incident on 14th May 2008 – Briefing Note”, dated June 2008, and Bulletin No. 20, “Potential Contamination of Jet Fuel with Biodiesel – Industry Update”, dated October 2008. These bulletins may be found at: http://www.jointinspectiongroup.org/

Reference publications:

FAA SAIB NE-09-25R1

EASA SIB No: 2009-01

Defects, malfunctions and failures occurring on aeronautical products are to be reported to Transport Canada, Continuing Airworthiness in accordance with CAR 521 mandatory Service Difficulty Reporting requirements.

For further information, contact a Transport Canada Center, or Jean Grenier, Continuing Airworthiness, Ottawa at 613-952-4357, facsimile 613-996-9178, or email CAWWEBFeedback@tc.gc.ca

For Director, National Aircraft Certification

Derek Ferguson
Chief, Continuing Airworthiness

Note: For the electronic version of this document, please consult the following Web address: www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/certification/menu.htm