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CITA’s aviation microbial study gets foreign recognition, partnership

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By Isaac Olusesi

Possible plane crashes from aviation fuel tank corrosions and plugging of the aircraft filtration system have been attributed to the microbial contamination that poses potential threats to the safety of airlines and health of aviation fuel depot personnel, with the recommendation that the current practice of removing accumulated bottom water in the aviation fuel tanks and periodic proactive monitoring for the presence of microbial contaminants to prevent the risks of microbial growth should be sustained, akin to the regular physical house cleaning measures carried out from time to time.

The hints, more than a cursory assessment of the aviation fuel quality, were part of the reports of the “Study of Microbial Contamination of Aviation Fuel at CITA Energies Limited,” a pioneering local study of microbial contamination of aviation fuel and its handling system in tropical Africa.

“Since most of the microbes are located in the aqueous phase of the water-hydrocarbon interface, the main way to avoid microbial growth and fuel spoilage with selected biocides used to treat aircraft tanks under carefully controlled conditions, is removing the accumulated water,” the study reports partly stated.

According to the study, the microbes are microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that are capable of existing in water where they interface with fuel. These microorganisms use alkanes and additives in fuel as foodstuff. The most destructive of the microbes that grows in the aircraft fuel environment is the fungus Hormoconis resinae. It is the most common cause of microbial corrosion, acid formation, and filter plugging in the aircraft fuel tanks. And if the microbiologically contaminated fuel is uplifted into aircraft, there’s possibility of clogging which comes at significant cost with the attendant operational issues.

And the study places strong emphasis on preventing microbial growth in the fuel supply chain and in the aircraft fuel tanks to avoid the airlines’ operational problems. “To treat it can lead to prolonged or extensive system downtimes or potential disruptions,” the study cautions.

Albert Bamikole Olayemi, a professor and lead researcher said at the Miami-Florida symposium that the research study aided by CITA Energies Limited is a pioneering effort, the first of its kind in tropical Africa, and it laid a solid foundation for the microbial database, diversity of the local environment and their possible effects on stored fuels in the tropics, adding that “the use of a uniform international standard to determine microbiological quality of fuels is indefensible. Standards based on climatology differences are suggested to be more realistic.

“Again, the use of standard microbiological methods in identifying and quantifying microbes in fuels may be considered more reliable than species-specific methods, which are in current use,” Olayemi, a university don and Environmental Microbiologist with 56 research works, 525 citations and 8845 reads to his credit, said

The study, published by Lambert Publishing Company in Germany, selling on Amazon was commissioned and sponsored by CITA Energies Limited to the tune of $100,000. The study has gained the buy-in of the global aviation community with foreign firms set to support further development of local expertize and infrastructure to measure, analyse and create remedial standards for microbial contamination of aviation fuel.

Olayemi, former Deputy Vice- Chancellor, University of Ilorin, Unilorin, Nigeria, urged quality control agencies to intensify monitoring to enhance the quality of supply to the aviation industry, and recommended among others, the incorporation of microbiological standards into the specification requirements of Jet A1 and allied products.

CITA championed the study, and unveiled it, at the aviation fuel systems management symposium held at Miami-Florida, United States; also in UAE, United Arab Emirates to the Arabs Air Carriers Organizations, even in South Africa, and at the Bi-annual Conference, Meetings and Exhibitions of International Air Transport Association (IATA) – a meeting of over 175 member airlines and leading jet fuel companies worldwide, held in London, United Kingdom.

Earlier at the presentation of the study reports in Lagos, Olayemi commended the management of CITA for compliance with the numerous industry and company’s propriety policies, standards and procedures- PSP, covering the entire aviation fuel supply storage and distribution chain.

The six – point CITA’s storage facilities selected for sampling: the bulk fuel, oil water surface, bottom water, inlet and discharge filters as well as sludge from the separation tanks and environmental surface were collected on three different occasions, representative of the rainy, harmattan and onset of rainy season. And they were used in the evaluation of the effects of seasonality on the detection and frequency of microbial contaminants.

For the study, the samples from CITA’s aviation fuel tank farms at various airport fields in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria attested that microbial contamination is intensively and extensively curtailed with the guidelines of the Nigeria Midstream Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authorities which dovetails into the International Airport Association (IATA) model which ensures that fuel is on specifications at points of delivery to airports.

The foreign recognition of CITA’s “Study of Microbial Contamination of Aviation Fuel at CITA Energies Limited” implies that the company has made a scientific breakthrough in the microbiological analysis of aviation fuel handling systems towards enhancing the quality of fuel supply to the nation aviation sector.

Ms Titi Olaore, Executive Director at CITA, stated at the UK forum that no case of air incidents or accidents traceable to microbial contamination of fuel is ever recorded in Africa, adding, the peculiarities of the tropical environment and its unique microbial properties are important to the need of a sustainable and proactive system in managing fuel and fuel handling systems in the continent.

Olaore in London, unveiled the research broader caption, ‘Microbial Contamination of Aviation Fuel and its Handling System in tropical Africa: Nigeria as a case study,’ and noted that “there are standard kits for measuring microbial properties of contaminants in jet fuel presently, targeted at some microbes. It’s believed that the microbes affect products in all the continents of the world.”

The CITA’s Executive Director explained that the study had identified limitations in the global indicators of microbial contamination and addressed the paucity of literature on jet fuel systems, peculiar to the African continent, especially Nigeria. She disclosed that, at least, two companies will be collaborating with CITA locally to train local expertise and develop infrastructure for the identification, analysis and creation of remedial corrections for any form of microbial contaminations as efforts at contributing to further knowledge.

Dr. Thomas Ogungbangbe, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CITA, who led a delegation to the U.S. and the UK, told news reporters that the gaps filled by the study, blue-ribboned by his company were associated with the contemporary industry practice in aviation fuel, pointedly saying, the study is CITA’s global contribution to general aviation safety and quality assurance.

The blue hearted CITA’s boss said: “We are gradually becoming the industry reference on bugging the bugging microbial contamination of jet fuel in this part of the world, with international’s recognition accorded to local expertise from Nigeria on this very unique jet fuel management system.”

Dr. Ogungbange, Fellow of LEAD – Leadership on Environment & Development, UK, who had attended several sessions in the past on Jet Fuel by EI, ASTM, API, & IATA revealed that there has not been any form of published microbial contamination of fuel report in Africa, but quickly added, the study has successfully created a generally practical approach to managing our system to safeguard against any such microbial contaminations.”

The study, its research reports leveraged on the research ingenuity of CITA, and the knowledge distilled, rewardingly stuck with the brilliant corporate and individual participants from the different nations of the world at the global CITA’s research study reports with symposia showcased or uncovered in the US, UK, UAE, and S/A on microbial contamination of aviation fuel. For all practical purposes, no yawning gap was observed and the exercise opened the eyes to see CITA, self enriched by its astute perspectives on business projects, a lot easier frontend.

And the backend is the company, prospered; and its clientele, markets, expanded despite the competitive odds in the global economy, with Ogungbangbe as backend developer, a committed advocate for global aviation best practices, codified in the company’s ethics of aviation fuel supply chain processes and procedures, hallmarked by integrity and operated by the rules, away from unscrupulous means.

OLUSESI writes via [email protected]

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Aviation

Aviation sector to benefit from RIDF

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Aviation is set to be part of key economic drivers that will benefit from President Bola Tinubu’s proposed Renewed Hope Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

In a statement by Ajuri Ngelale, the fund targets strategic sectors like agriculture, transportation, ports,  energy, healthcare, and education along with aviation.

The initiative plans to inject funds into vital national projects to foster growth, bolster local value addition, generate jobs, and spur innovation.

Efficient use of low-interest loans and financing options will secure advantageous arrangements for project financing and operation.

The focus on aviation enhancement involves modernising major airports nationwide with targeted investments and infrastructure upgrades.

The statement reads, “On aviation enhancement, the focus is on the revitalization and modernization of major airports nationwide. Through targeted investments and infrastructure upgrades, major airports will undergo comprehensive refurbishment, including improvement in terminal facilities, runway expansions, and the implementation of cutting-edge technologies to enhance safety and operational efficiency.”

For agricultural infrastructure, the focus includes developing robust networks like storage facilities and irrigation systems.

In port revitalisation, the goal is to modernise facilities and attract investments to enhance Nigeria’s regional trade hub status.

“By modernizing port facilities and implementing advanced monitoring systems, the goal is to optimize efficiency, attract investments, and bolster Nigeria’s position as a regional trade hub,” the statement read.

Key road projects like Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road aim to enhance connectivity and stimulate economic growth.

Rail projects like Lagos-Kano and Eastern lines will modernise transportation networks for speed and reliability.

President Tinubu’s approval of the RHIDF absorbs the PIDF, expediting project delivery for Nigerians’ benefit.

Projects funded under the RHIDF will have a national spread, reflecting the commitment to equitable development.

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Aviation

ICAO Aviation security audit team debriefs Nigeria, indicates strong outing

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The Team Lead of ICAO Security Audit Programme, Callum Vine, announced Nigeria’s strong performance during a debrief after its Audit.

Nigeria recently concluded the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Security Audit Programme the continuous Monitoring Approach (USAP-CMA) according to a statement emanating from Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, FAAN, Obiageli Orah.

The USAP-CMA aims to improve aviation security compliance by analysing Member States’ performance and implementation of security standards. It focuses on Annex 17: Security Standards and Annex 9: facilitation compliance, along with associated procedures and security practices.

The event held at NCAA Headquarters saw Vine praise Nigeria’s robust policies and agencies, acknowledging their speed in addressing identified deficiencies without complaints.

He mentioned that the full audit report would be available within 60 days, followed by a 30-day period for comments.

FAAN’s Managing Director, Mrs. Olubunmi Kuku, affirmed using the audit results as a roadmap for continuous improvement.

She urged stakeholders to collaborate closely, share best practices, and uphold the highest security standards in the industry.

The debrief was attended by Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, representing the Minister, and Captain Chris Najomo, Acting Director General of NCAA.

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Aviation

Arik Air receives Best Sustainable Airline Company award

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Arik Air has bagged the award for  Best Sustainable Airline of the Year,  2024 by the World Quality Alliance and Quality Standards Journal.

The airline’s Public Relations and Communications Manager, Mr Adebanji Ola, disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos.

Ola said the award was presented to the airline at the National Quality Summit 2024 held on March 22 in Abuja.

According to Ola, the Award General Committee of the National Quality Order of Merit, said the award was meant to celebrate leadership innovations and creativity in quality management.

Ola noted that Dr Ovie Shaka, Vice Chairman, Organising Committee of the National Quality Order of Merit Awards 2024, explained that the award was aimed at identifying, recognising and rewarding companies.

“The award also aims at rewarding personalities and products that apply quality assurance culture and quality management best practices.”

He said the award was presented by Stanley Ohenhen, on behalf of the Organising Committee and received by Arik Air’s Director of Safety, Capt. Jide Bakare.

Ola quoted Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, as saying that the award is another testament of the airline’s fastidious adherence to operational safety standards.

Ilegbodu said Arik Air was committed to continual improvement of the management system and operational performance.

Recall that Arik Air also won the 2023  Best In-flight Service Airline by the Nigerian Aviation (NIGAV) Award.

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