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Document no: GEN 115, Issue 0

Type:

Site Technical Practice

Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment

GEN 115

Issue Date:

30 September 2008

Revision Date:

30 September 2011

Owner:

John Thurston

Approver:

Steve Anderson

Issuer:

Steve Anderson

Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment

Copyright Air BP Limited


All rights reserved. This document and the information it contains, or may be extracted from it, is
subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement or contract under which the document was
supplied to the recipient's organisation.
None of the information contained in this document shall be disclosed outside of the recipient's own
organisation without prior written permission of Air BP Limited, unless the terms of such agreement.
Use of Language
Throughout this document, the words 'may', 'should' and 'shall', when used in the context of actions
by Air BP or others, have specific meanings as follows:
(a)

'May' is used where alternatives are equally acceptable.

(b)

'Should' is used where a provision is preferred.

(c)

'Shall' is used where a provision is mandatory.

Note that alternative or preferred requirements may be qualified by Air BP in another referenced
document.
Date Issued:
30 September 08

Revision No: Reason for issue:


0

First Issue

Registered Address:
Air BP Limited
Chertsey Road
Sunbury-on-Thames
Middlesex
TW16 7LN
UNITED KINGDOM

Air BP Limited

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Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment

TABLE OF CONTENTS
1

INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................... 4

APPLICATION OF SOAK TESTING ........................................................................................ 4

2.1

Soak Testing New Systems .................................................................................................... 4

2.2

Soak Testing of Existing Systems and New Ancillary Equipment...................................... 5

SOAK TESTING PROCEDURE................................................................................................ 6

3.1

Soak Period .............................................................................................................................. 6

3.1.1

Storage Tanks, Pipelines and Fittings ....................................................................................... 6

3.1.2

Vehicles ..................................................................................................................................... 6

3.1.3

Hoses......................................................................................................................................... 6

3.2

Fuel Volume ............................................................................................................................. 6

3.2.1

Storage Tanks ........................................................................................................................... 7

3.2.2

Pipelines .................................................................................................................................... 7

3.2.3

Vehicles ..................................................................................................................................... 7

3.2.4

Hoses......................................................................................................................................... 7

3.3

Laboratory Testing .................................................................................................................. 7

SUMMARY ................................................................................................................................ 8

Air BP Limited

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Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment


1

INTRODUCTION
Soak testing is carried out after construction work or repairs on fuel systems and vehicles
to ensure that there are no potential contaminants present in the form of solvents from
coatings/linings, welding flux, valve grease, or other general debris. Soak testing shall be
carried out even if the systems are constructed of aluminium or stainless steel as other
contaminants could still be present.
Soak testing shall be completed on the constructed facility rather than on representative
sections of pipe or on individual pieces of equipment (e.g. tanks or filter vessels) prior to
installation. This ensures that the soak test identifies problems caused during fabrication
of the particular piece of equipment as well as problems due to the actual on-site
construction work.
For tie-ins, where in-situ soak testing may not be practicable, the relatively short sections
of pipe, fittings or valves involved may be soak tested before installation, provided
adequate precautions are taken to ensure the cleanliness of the tie-in components until
the new system is put into service.
A soak test consists of filling the system being commissioned with the appropriate fuel
grade and leaving it to stand for a soak period. A retention sample of the fuel used is
taken before filling as a control in an Air BP approved sample container. At the end of the
soak period, the fuel is sampled from the system being commissioned and submitted for
laboratory testing.
The relevant Asset/Country Product Quality Authority or delegate shall review and
approve the site-specific soak test plan prior to commissioning. Any request for
deviations to the requirements set out in this site technical practice shall be agreed by the
Technical Function (Global Product Quality Manager or Operating Management System
Leader) prior to commencing the soak test.

APPLICATION OF SOAK TESTING

2.1

Soak Testing New Systems


Once the system has been filled with the correct grade of fuel, all components in the
system that contain moving parts in contact with the fuel should be exercised to help
wash out any contaminants, for instance by opening and closing each valve a few times.
At the end of the soak period representative samples shall be obtained from the
appropriate locations and submitted for laboratory testing.
A single sample from the low point (bottom sample) shall be used for horizontal and
vertical tanks. A sample taken from this location represents the most severe case as the
fuel is in close contact with the lining and any heavy contaminants that settle out are
more likely to be collected during sampling.
Small piping configurations that can be circulated into a tank shall be tested as part of the
tank soak test and not sampled/tested separately.
Larger supply piping networks shall have samples taken from each major section (e.g.
receipt line & shipping line) for separate testing. Samples should be taken where
possible (e.g. low point drain, high point vents) from more than one point and combined
into a single composite sample.
Hydrant piping networks shall have samples taken from each major section for separate
testing. Samples should be taken where possible (e.g. low point drain, high point vents,
hydrant pit valves) from more than one point and combined into a single composite
sample.
New vehicles often arrive containing the remains of product used for testing the
equipment prior to delivery. Inevitably pockets of this product are trapped in the fuel
circuit together with small amounts of debris. It would normally be expected that the

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Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment


vehicle manufacturers use filtered kerosene for this purpose and that it is of a reasonable
standard of cleanliness. However, some manufacturers may recycle the same fuel many
times or use a non-aviation grade fluid for testing and it must be assumed that any
product in the vehicle is of inferior quality. This entire product and any contamination
must be removed, as it could possibly contain surfactants and other chemicals. It is
important that pockets of test fluids are thoroughly drained to the point that the internal
system surfaces contain no more than a wet film of product. Ideally they should be
completely dry before filling with the appropriate grade of fuel for the soak test.
The requirement to soak test new vehicles can be eliminated if the manufacturer provides
evidence that the vehicle has successfully passed a soak test in-line with our
requirements prior to delivery. However, if the condition of the vehicle upon initial
inspection indicates possible contamination, e.g. the presence of water and particulates,
then a soak test shall be carried out before placing the vehicle into service. The relevant
Asset/Country Product Quality Authority must approve all requests to forgo soak testing
of new vehicles.
In all cases it is important to ensure that the sampling point is clean and flushed prior to
taking the sample. Drain the sample point to remove any accumulated solid matter
(particulate) and/or free water until the fuel is clear and bright. Only Air BP approved
sample containers shall be used and the container shall be flushed and rinsed thoroughly
with the product to be sampled and allowed to drain before use.
If the fuel is found to be unsuitable for aviation use, then the reason shall be investigated
and the fuel removed (and downgraded to non-aviation use), the system re-filled with onspecification fuel and the soak test repeated until a satisfactory result is obtained.
Soak testing is applicable throughout the distribution system from Refinery to Airport.
However, upstream facilities will likely require Recertification Testing or Full Specification
Testing before the fuel can be released. Such operations are still required to adhere to
the soak test procedure described herein.
2.2

Soak Testing of Existing Systems and New Ancillary Equipment


Soak testing is applicable on repair work or modifications to existing systems. As a
general rule if new lining material is applied to an existing tank then soak testing shall be
completed if the new lining material covers 10% or more of the tanks coated surface area
or surface area of existing piping. This criterion means that minor spot repairs to internal
tank lining can be re-commissioned after a field cure test (See MECH 53, Part 6) without
soak testing, but significant repairs are subject to a full soak test.
Newly installed ancillary equipment (e.g. pumps, filter vessels, valves, pit valves, control
valves, meters, sense tubing, water drain lines, etc) should be soak tested during the
initial system-wide soak test. Replacement or repaired equipment has not historically
been soak tested prior to use. These small pieces of equipment typically have very small
internal fuel wetted surface areas compared to the amount of product they come into
contact with. Hence most contaminants are diluted to a large extent and do not cause
product quality problems. However, some equipment (e.g. fuel pumps) may be
stored/shipped with a preservative oil or lined with a rust inhibitor to prevent corrosion.
These materials can result in the contamination of a large volume of fuel rendering it unfit
for use. In order to prevent a small repair or change of equipment from creating a large
problem, confirmation that no undesirable materials are present on the internal surfaces
which come in contact with the fuel shall be obtained or verified by the equipment
supplier or repairing service before installation. If an undesirable material is present, the
material shall be removed prior to installation or alternate equipment shall be sourced
which is free of any such detrimental materials. The process to effectively remove any
undesirable material from a piece of equipment and the need to perform a soak test prior
to or after installation shall be agreed with the Asset/Country Product Quality Authority or
delegate.
Vehicles arriving at an airfield location that are without records, have been through a
contractor repair facility involving fuels system repairs and vehicles that have been out of

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Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment


service for an extended period shall be treated as new equipment and soak tested
accordingly.
Vehicles moved from one airfield to another that remains in service up to the time of
transfer do not require a soak test, but are subject to the re-commissioning procedures
detailed in the Air BP Regulations Fuelling & Quality Control.
3

SOAK TESTING PROCEDURE

3.1

Soak Period
Past experience has demonstrated that there is little risk of fuel contamination from an
Air BP approved lining when the lining is properly applied and allowed to fully cure (see
MECH 53, Parts 6 & 7). Other contaminants that may be present such as rolling oils,
welding flux or valve grease will dissolve into the fuel rapidly if hydrocarbon based;
otherwise they will be eliminated through flushing and draining of the system or removed
by filtration. An improperly applied and/or uncured lining will usually cause a soak test
failure within 1 or 2 days long soak times (10+ days) do not significantly improve our
ability to detect fuel contamination by the laboratory tests employed.
If the lining material to be used has not been successfully tested to meet the
requirements of MECH 53 Part 8, is not listed in the Air BP Technical Approvals Manual
(Section 4) and is not covered by a 10 year application and material warranty, a waiver is
required from the Technical Function prior to use. Due to the lack of experience with
unapproved linings it is likely that additional sampling and testing will be imposed to
demonstrate suitability.

3.1.1

Storage Tanks, Pipelines and Fittings


To ensure sufficient contact time is achieved under different climatic conditions, a
minimum 4 day soak period shall be carried out after construction work or major repairs
to a fuel system if the lining used is an Air BP approved material and is covered by a
10 year application and material warranty.

3.1.2

Vehicles
For fuellers and dispensers with tanks and piping of aluminium or stainless steel, after
circulation the product shall be left to soak for at least 1 hour before representative
samples are taken and are subjected to laboratory testing. During this test period, all
product flushed through a dispenser into storage or circulated through a fueller shall be
quarantined awaiting the laboratory test results.
The Asset/Country Product Quality Authority shall be consulted for instructions on soak
testing fueller tanks that are manufactured from mild steel and coated with an epoxy
lining prior to placing the vehicle into service.

3.1.3

Hoses
New aircraft fuelling hoses (meeting API/EI 1529 or EN 1361) shall be filled with product
and left to soak for a minimum of eight hours at a temperature of 15C or higher before
flushing with at least 2000 litres. Longer soak times are required where product
temperatures are lower. Flushed product shall be visually inspected until no evidence of
manufacturing residue or discolouration is detected and shall be returned to a storage
tank which is not in service. Soak testing is not required for hoses covered by MECH 83
(Low Pressure/Vacuum Hoses and Hose Assemblies for Road/Rail Delivery).

3.2

Fuel Volume
The general principle is to maximize contact of the fuel with the surface area of the
system under test. In most cases this means filling the system with a large quantity of
fuel. Although increasing the fuel volume could result in a large amount of contaminated
product it actually lowers the risk of generating off-specification fuel due to dilution effects
and offers the best assessment of the fuel system.

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Soak Testing of Aviation Fuel Facilities and Equipment


3.2.1

Storage Tanks
Fully lined tanks - The potential risk of generating a large quantity of contaminated fuel is
significantly reduced in fully lined storage tanks where an Air BP approved coating is
used and application is in accordance with MECH 53 Parts 6 & 7. Fully lined tanks also
reduce the contamination potential from exposure to bare metal containing rolling oils
from the steel manufacturing process. Filling fully lined storage tanks to the Normal Fill
Level is recommended for soak testing, however, the minimum level shall be enough fuel
to cover the floating or fixed suction and the receipt nozzle to allow circulation of product
without pump cavitation when circulating the fuel through the piping system to flush out
any contaminants.
Partially lined and unlined tanks Due to the potential contamination from rolling oils and
welding flux on bare metal surfaces, partially lined and unlined tanks shall be filled to the
Normal Fill Level for the duration of the soak test.

3.2.2

3.2.3

Pipelines

Supply Lines Lines shall be filled completely.

Hydrants Lines shall be filled completely.

Vehicles
New and Transfer Vehicles Filling vehicles completely is recommended for soak testing,
however, the minimum level shall be enough to cover the inlet and outlet foot valves to
allow circulation of product through the entire fuel circuit, e.g., piping, filter vessel, hose
reel, valves and meters without pump cavitation. The vehicle shall be driven (Stop/Start)
to promote sloshing of the product in the tank to wash off any contaminants from the tank
walls before circulation of product.

3.2.4

Hoses

3.3

Aviation Fuelling Hoses Fill completely.

Laboratory Testing
At the end of the soak period a representative sample is taken from the fuel system and a
selection of laboratory tests are carried out to determine the quality of the fuel used in the
soak test. The fuel properties tested shall be compared with the specification limits for
the grade of fuel used and with the pre-soak test results for the fuel used in the soak test.
A successful result requires that all tested properties are within the specification limits
and within the tolerance limits established for re-certification. If any test result does not
fully comply with the applicable specification or falls outside the allowable variances, the
product shall be re-sampled and re-tested. If the fuel is found to be unsuitable for use,
then the reason shall be investigated and the fuel removed (and downgraded to nonaviation use or disposed of), the system re-filled with on-specification fuel and the soak
test repeated until a satisfactory result is obtained. The relevant Asset/Country Product
Quality Authority shall be contacted for advice in the event of any problems with the soak
test. The laboratory tests include:
Test Method

Jet Fuels

Avgas

Appearance

D4176

Existent Gum

D381

540

D1094

289

Water Reaction

ASTM

MSEP

D3948

Conductivity

D2624

Saybolt Colour

D156

Thermal Stability (JFTOT)

D3241

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4

SUMMARY
The following table and accompanying notes provide a summary of the soak test
requirements for storage tanks, piping, ancillary equipment and vehicles.
Storage Tanks
Fully Lined
Duration

Min Fuel
Volume

Partially
Lined

Pipelines
Unlined

4 days (Note 1)
4 days
4 days
Enough product to
cover the floating or
fixed suction & the
Normal Fill Normal Fill
Level
Level
receipt nozzle to allow
circulation of product
without pump cavitation

Hydrant Supply

Ancillary Equipment
Pumps,
valves,
meters etc.

Filter
Vessels

4 days

Fill lines
completely

Vehicles
(Note 3)
Aluminium or
Stainless Steel
1 hour

(Note 2)

Lab
Testing

Jet Fuel: Appearance, Existent Gum, MSEP, Conductivity, Saybolt Colour, JFTOT
Avgas: Appearance, Existent Gum & Water Reaction

Sample
Volume

Jet Fuel: 5 Litres or 1 usg


Avgas: 5 Litres or 1 usg (20 Litres or 5 usg required for a full specification test)

Note 4

Hoses Fuel shall be drained after the 8 hour soak period and visually inspected for
appearance, discolouring & solid matter.
Note 1: The 4 day soak period applies to equipment (fully, partially or unlined storage
tanks, pipelines, ancillary equipment and vehicles) where the lining material used is an
Air BP approved epoxy and is covered by a 10 year joint material and applications
warranty from the manufacturer. Use of equipment where the lining material is not an Air
BP approved epoxy and is not covered by a 10 year material and application warranty
shall be subject to approval by the Technical Function prior to use. Additional sampling
and testing may be imposed to mitigate the potential risks of using an unapproved lining.
Note 2: Newly installed ancillary equipment (e.g. pumps, filter vessels, valves, pit valves,
control valves, meters, sense tubing, water drain lines, etc) should be soak tested during
the system-wide soak test. Replacement or repaired equipment is not typically soak
tested prior to use since the ratio of total surface area to fuel volume is very small diluting
any contaminants below harmful levels. However, it is important to confirm that the
replacement or repaired equipment does not contain detrimental materials, e.g.
preservative oil or rust inhibitor coatings, which could contaminate the fuel and render it
unfit for use.
Note 3: New vehicles delivered directly from the manufacturer or vehicles arriving at an
airfield location without records or after repairs at a contractor facility or vehicles that
have been out of service for an extended period shall be treated as new equipment and
subject to a soak test. Vehicles in service up to the time of transfer require the same
filling and soak test period but do not require any laboratory sampling or testing other
than an acceptable visual check before returning to service. The Asset/Country Product
Quality Authority or delegate shall approve the Asset/country specific vehicle soak test
plan in line with these requirements.
Note 4: It is recommended that vehicles are filled completely for the one hour soak test;
however, if the soak test is carried out with a lesser volume, the amount shall be sufficient
to cover the inlet and outlet foot valves to allow circulation of product through the entire
fuel circuit without cavitation. Vehicles with compartmented tanks may carry out the soak
test on individual tanks in a sequential fashion, i.e. each tank is soak tested for one hour
and the contents transferred from one tank to the next until each tank has been soak
tested for at least one hour. The vehicle shall be driven after initial fill and after each
transfer to promote sloshing of the product to wash contaminants off the tanks walls and
from the fuel circuit. Laboratory testing need only be carried out on a single
representative sample from the last tank soak tested.

Air BP Limited

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30 September 2008