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Check For Water Contamination

by John M. White |

If you fly a Cessna 150, Cessna 172 or Cessna 170 model aircraft be aware that the FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin regarding checking your fuel tanks for water contamination before flight. The bulletin was issued on 7/30/2010 to try and prevent accidents and incidents resulting from water in the fuel of the aircraft. This is interesting to me as we just returned to Lansing after flying up to Bois Blanc Island in the Mackinaw Straights where we had a lot of rain on Sunday morning. We flew a Cessna 205 up there (my wife was the PIC - did a great job) and we fueled up twice in Clare, MI. Once on the way up, once on the way down. Price of fuel, of course! But even though we had placed the airplane in a hangar we still checked all the sumps to see if we had any water in our fuel, and in particular after our fuel purchases. It always amazes me how a lot of pilots flying Cessna 150, 170 and 172 aircraft feel it is too difficult and time consuming to get the ladder, climb up, check the fuel filler caps and drain the sumps. The FAA advises that water may enter the fuel system via any penetration in the tank, or it may come out of solution in the fuel and settle or adhere to the inside of the tank walls in the form of a blob, pea, or BB-shaped translucent mass found at the bottom of the tank. Draining at least 1 cup from each fuel tank sump can help make sure that our fuel is not contaminated and will not cause us any problems in the operation of the engine. The FAA maintains that water may have dissolved in the fuel, but the conditions have not yet occurred to cause the water to come out of solution and perhaps adhere to the dry tank upper surface or walls (similar to condensation). Understanding this, all pilots, owners, operators, maintenance, and service personnel of these type airplanes should assume some water exists in the fuel tank system on the airplane. To protect yourself make sure the filler caps are of the raised umbrella style that sheds water, and store your aircraft in a hangar as often as possible. Remember, there can not be just one single point to check for water in your fuel; you need to check every tank for water prior to flight. For more information here is a link to FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CD-10-40R1. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7 In flying I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks. — Wilbur Wright in a letter to his father, September 1900 ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

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