Important Changes to ATA 103 – Standards for Jet Fuel Quality Control at Airports

UDPATE: The maximum DP for filter monitors referenced with-in this article has been reverted back to 15psi. See our other NATA SafetyNet blog posts for the latest concerning filter monitors and other industry news.

This month, Airlines for America (A4A) announced several significant changes to their ATA 103 Specification – Standards for Jet Fuel Quality Control at Airports. Chief among these changes is an extension of coalescer filter elements from a one-year replacement schedule to a three-year replacement schedule. The coalescer filter housings are still required to be opened and inspected annually for cleanliness and element integrity, and the maximum allowable differential pressure (DP) remains 15psi. Monitor filter elements had their maximum allowable DP extended to 22psi, but are still required to be replaced annually. Another important change came in the elimination of the required monthly upstream membrane color/particle check, or “Millipore” test (downstream testing is still required monthly).


The announcement came after a “comprehensive review and update” by the A4A Fuel Technical Committee, and included several other key highlights. The new revision ATA 103 2017.1 is expected to be published next month, and will include additional updates not outlined in the announcement.  A copy of the full announcement can be viewed here.

Misfueling Prevention

A misfueling is when an aircraft receives the incorrect type, grade or amount of fuel. NATA Safety 1st committee member, Bill Moody, from AirBP, contributes the following to help FBOs and pilots prevent aircraft misfueling.

“Everything was fine during our take-off…”

No Fair Warning: If an Avgas powered aircraft is inadvertently refueled with Jet Fuel, there can be sufficient Avgas remaining in the aircraft’s fuel lines and carburetors to enable the aircraft to taxi and even take off. When the Jet Fuel reaches the engine, often at a critical time during take-off, the engine can fail and cause a forced landing or worse – the aircraft may crash.

A similar situation can occur if Avgas is put onto an aircraft which should have been refueled with Jet Fuel. (Fortunately, the consequences of this are usually less serious).

The wrong fuel. The wrong choice.

Avgas and Jet-A Don’t Mix: Every year around the world a number of aircraft are refueled with the incorrect grade of fuel. Fortunately, this error is usually detected before the aircraft takes off but, sadly, this is not always the case. We continue to see reports of incidents and even aircraft crashes resulting from misfueling. You can reinforce refueling procedures and line service training and help to ensure that your aircraft is NEVER misfueled by taking the following actions:

  • Trust But Verify
    • Teamwork – Verbal/Visual Verification
      • The simplest and most effective way to help prevent a Misfueling is for you to verbally and visually confirm the required fuel grade with the line service person before fueling your aircraft.
      • Verbally verify the grade of fuel you require with the Line Service professional and visually check the fuel grade markings on the refueling vehicle or dispenser BEFORE fueling your aircraft.
  •  No Decal – No Fuel
    • Fuel Grade Labels
      • Most aircraft are placarded for fuel type at the fueling port. Fueling staff should be trained to check for those placards and deliver only the type and grade of fuel specified on those placards. We should encourage everyone to fit fuel grade and type placards to the over-wing refueling ports of aircraft.
  • Look Before You Sign
    • Signed Fuel Order Forms
      • Many FBOs now require aircraft service requests be completed and signed by the pilot for all aircraft fuel services. This is an effective way for the pilot to confirm the aircraft identification, fuel grade required by their aircraft, fuel quantity, and other important service details before line service personnel begin to service the aircraft. We should encourage pilots to adopt this policy for all over-wing fuelings.
  • Are you Nozzle Savvy?
    • Selective Fuel Orifice
      • Selective Fuel Nozzle Spouts and Aircraft Fuel Tank Restrictor Plates: Do you know which nozzle should be used on your aircraft, and why? All Avgas powered aircraft with over-wing fueling ports should have an opening smaller than 2”. Low cost restrictor plates are available for larger openings.
      • Avgas Nozzle – 1” spout
      • Jet Fuel Nozzle (J-Spout) – 2 ½” oval spout. The intent is that the 2 ½” J- spout for Jet Fuel will not fit into the tank opening on an avgas powered aircraft fitted with the restrictor plate.
      • THE BAD GUY! Jet Fuel Nozzle (Straight Spout) – 1 ½” spout. Be on the lookout for Jet Fuel nozzles fitted with this spout. It will fit into an avgas aircraft even with the restrictor plate. These should not be installed on Jet Fuel nozzles!


For more information or to complete the FREE Safety 1st General Aviation Misfueling Prevention Program by visiting: