Tuesday, October 18, 2011

InterOil: Fuel not contaminated

FUEL distributor InterOil yesterday denied that its fuel may have been contaminated, leading to last Thursday's Dash 8 aircraft crash in Madang, The National reports,
PNG Accident Investigation Commission chief executive officer David Inau also ruled out the contamination theory put forward by a Lae businessman which The Australian newspaper reported at the weekend.
InterOil general manager Peter Diezmann said in a media statement that immediately following the crash, it initiated its standard operating procedure to quarantine relevant fuel sources and facilities, freeze aircraft operations and engaged with the Civil Aviation Safety authority to ensure that appropriate testing could be undertaken.
He said the company undertook the testing to determine if its fuel were contaminated as speculated.
"The company was concerned for the safety of other air travellers, even though it was unlikely that their fuel would have contributed to the accident, therefore, all fuel distribution was stopped to allow for the testing," he said.
Diezmann said the bad fuel theory was ruled out because another 15 aircraft also refuelled at Nadzab Airport, Lae, from the same batch of aviation fuel last Thursday.
He said initial testing and analysis of the fuel confirmed that the fuel supplied to the aircraft in Lae fully complied with specifications.
Diezmann said comprehensive testing has now been completed by a specialist independent laboratory and consequently CASA had cleared the company's refuelling operations.
He said as a result of the clearance, refueling operations at Nadzab had recommenced.
Asked yesterday to comment on fuel contamination, Inau said: "We would discount that."
He has set up office at Madang airport to coordinate efforts to determine the cause of the crash which killed 28 people.
"If contaminants were in the fuel they would have caused the engine to flame out.
"But the way the fire tore out the plane shows it could be other causes which may be related to other factors.
"So yes, we are still trying to figure out what the bang, which people say they have heard, is all about".
Meanwhile, a team from Bombardier, the Canadian manufacturers of the Dash 8 aircraft, and a team from Pratt and Whitney, engine makers of the plane, arrived yesterday in Madang and will visit the crash site today.
Airlines PNG, meanwhile, had grounded its remaining 11 Dash 8 aircraft, hoping to resume as soon as clearance is given

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