Air BP is rolling out a new digital platform to make aircraft fueling safer and more reliable. According to the company, its new Airfield Automation technology is the first commercially deployed system in the world to provide an engineering barrier to actively help prevent misfuelling.
“Misfuelling is one of the biggest risks we face in our industry,” says Kerry Rutherford, technical director, Air BP. “As aircraft engine technology advances and new unleaded fuel grades are introduced, we anticipate that it will become even more relevant in the future.”
The cloud-based Airfield Automation platform consolidates airport fueling operations data into its safe2go app, which can be accessed on a handheld device. The app captures fuel volume readings and provides fuel grade checks, which Air BP says adds an additional misfuelling barrier. Customer details are then electronically captured and confirmed via electronic signature by the pilot or airline. The company says the platform enhances fueling accuracy, minimizes potential errors and allows the company to offer increasingly integrated information to customers, such as delivery records and precise delivery timings.
According to Justin Walker, Air BP’s technical services director, the technology was trialed at nine airports in the U.K., Cyprus and Portugal before its official launch earlier this year. “At one airport alone more than 5,000 aircraft fuelings were completed during the first six months of the trial, with the new technology delivering over 46 million liters (12.15 million gal.) of fuel into customer aircraft,” says Walker.
Air BP started rolling the platform out to its operating network this past summer and it is currently being installed at its first locations in Africa. The sites in East London and George, South Africa, are planning to go live with the technology by the end of 2018 once configuration and testing take place.
Rollout of Airfield Automation in Africa accompanies Air BP’s rapid growth within the region. The company’s presence in Africa grew to nearly 40 locations earlier this year with the addition of six new locations in Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Mauritius and Morocco. Walker says the company has recently provided technical service offerings for a variety of African customers, such as helping to develop new fuel systems and into-plane operations, bespoke training and inspection services.
“It is estimated that aviation in Africa will grow on average by 5% per year over the next 20 years and that passenger traffic will grow by around 3.8% annually up to 2032,” says Walker. “Our technical services offer, with its proven track record of improving operations and reducing risk, is an ideal solution for those planning to develop their fuel facilities as the industry grows.” Aviation Week has forecast that the region will generate MRO demand of $26.4 billion over the next 10 years.
Air BP will continue to progressively roll out Airfield Automation to approximately 350 of its network locations in 25 countries. The company expects the technology to be fully operational at all locations by 2020 and it is currently pursuing patent protection for the platform.