(OT?) Air panic a 'complete furphy', says CASA

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Air panic a 'complete furphy', says CASA

23 jan 00

The aviation gas crisis which grounded 5000 light aircraft and cost millions of dollars this week was caused by nothing more than a harmless residue, the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority believes.

CASA believes oil supplier Mobil may have made an unsound finding when it concluded that white substance found in its ground storage tanks was the same as a gel found in aircraft using avgas made at its Altona refinery in Victoria. The possible mistake has cost aircraft operators millions of dollars and prompted some to take civil legal action.

Mobil has created a $15 million dollar fund to alleviate the effects of the crisis.

"It appears that the white gel is harmless, a complete and utter furphy," CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.

"We took their word, we said `You're chemical experts, it's your fuel, that must be the truth'."

Mobil feared the gel was linked to an earlier contamination, fears which prompted CASA to issue its grounding order on January 10 for all aircraft that had used Mobil avgas manufactured between November 21 and December 23.

The same fuel source also contained an additive which caused a black build-up in engines and resulted in CASA issuing warnings to aircraft owners before Christmas.

"We probably wouldn't have grounded all the aircraft if Mobil hadn't said there's this second kind of contamination," Mr Gibson said.

"(The initial contamination) would still have grounded quite a few aircraft but you're talking about 2,000 as opposed to 5,000. It would have more than halved the problem."

A petrochemical expert brought into oversee the development of a test for the fuel contamination, Professor David Trimm from the University of New South Wales, now believed the white substance in Mobil's tanks was different from the gel found in aircraft fuel tanks.

"He's now saying that it looks like there is no evidence that the stuff in the aircraft fuel tanks is anything but a harmless build-up of material over many years," Mr Gibson said.

It appeared that that the gel in the aircraft tanks was oxidised aluminium while the white substance in Mobil's holding tanks was a carbonate contamination.

Mr Gibson said Prof Trimm was expected to confirm his findings sometime today after testing by Mobil's laboratories.

CASA was now also confident it would have a test ready for the initial black contamination within the next 48 hours, after final trials at Bankstown airport today.

"In the next 48 hours we will have a test and a cleaning procedure as well, a way to get the stuff our of the aircraft," the CASA spokesman said.

"Those aircraft that pass the test can fly."

About 1,000 of the test kits, each capable of testing up to 30 aircraft, were expected to be ready tomorrow or Tuesday for use by aircraft maintenance engineers.

The kit is designed to test for ethylene diamine - a chemical additive which leaches the copper from brass or bronze engine parts causing the black build-up.

A group representing 6,800 aircraft owners, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said it was confident the test would be passed.

"We are now are happy that the test procedures that have been developed are quite satisfactory. All that remains is to validate the operating instructions so that in the hands of a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer (the instructions) are unambiguous," said association president Bill Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton said each kit could be used to test up to 30 aircraft and contained and instructional video, written instructions, testing chemicals and equipment.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), January 22, 2000


Can I get one of those kits to test these chemtrails? I think civil defense should give everyone a kit...

-- Hokie (Hokie_@hotmail.com), January 22, 2000.

From Webster's Dictionary:

furphy, from Furphy Carts, water and sanitation carts used during WW I in Australia, from the Furphy Manufacturing Company, Shepparton, Victoria, Australia. Slang: A false report, a rumor.

-- Forrest Covington (theforrest@mindspring.com), January 23, 2000.

I thought they were called Dunny Wagons - not to be confused with Honey Wagons - which really are the same thing. But the dunnies were just black barrels used for outdoor toilets, which the Dunny man would exchange each week on his truck as he came around. Never heard of a furphy...but the meaning is obviously the same.

-- Laurane (familyties@rttinc.com), January 23, 2000.

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