Refuelling at Ben Gurion airport – questions, no answers

Something is very wrong with the system that supplies fuel to the aircraft using Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv.


On 20 November, water was detected in the system and the supply to the airport’s fuel tanks farm was cut. Flights continued with fuel that was already in the tanks.


This incident happened seven months after the airport’s operation was disrupted by fuel contamination.


The fuel contamination caused the immediate stoppage of refuelling. Airlines were instructed to refuel at airports in Cyprus and Jordan.


Refuelling was resumed after a few days when it became clear that the refuelling system in the airport was clean.


An investigation into the jet fuel contamination showed that the source of the unidentified substance was outside the airport. The IATA conducted an independent investigation but could not reach a conclusive result.


The fact that a similar problem happened after steps were supposed to have been taken to avoid it proves that if something was done, it was not enough.


Israel has one international airport and the fuel supply should not be interrupted by suspicious substances or above normal traces of water.


Yesterday, the Israeli airport authority issued a NOTAM saying the additional tests proved that the fuel is safe for use.


But one thing is obvious – something is wrong with the system that supplies the fuel from the refineries to the aircraft.


Airlines cannot be caught again and again in situations of uncertainty that may force them to fly with extra fuel in the tanks of their aircraft, or land for refuelling in neighbouring countries.


All parties involved agree that a complete upgrade of the system and the building of a back-up system is an urgent task.


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