safety regulators are examining criteria for low-fuel warning systems on
aircraft with a view potentially to requiring that such systems be made
independent of fuel-quantity indicators.
follows recommendations made by UK,
Irish and Italian investigation agencies after inquiries into three serious
incidents during which crews were unaware of impending fuel exhaustion.
of these incidents involved ATR turboprops. One engine on an Aer Arann ATR 42 stopped during a service from London
Luton to Galway
in August 2003 after a refuelling error left one wing tank practically empty.
This went unnoticed by the crew who thought the fuel gauge was not functioning
exactly two years later an ATR 72 operated by Tuninter crashed into the sea off Sicily
after being erroneously fitted with a fuel gauge from a smaller ATR 42
aircraft. The fuel gauge incorrectly indicated sufficient fuel on board, and
this prevented a low-fuel warning sounding.
months before the Tuninter
crash, in February 2005, a Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A340-600 operating
between Hong Kong
and London Heathrow suffered a fuel-control computer failure, which stopped the
automatic transfer of fuel. One engine subsequently stopped and another began
to lose power but system logic resulted in low-fuel warnings not being
presented to the crew.
its final report into the Virgin A340 event the UK Air Accidents Investigation
Branch (AAIB) says the European Aviation Safety Agency “agrees” with the broadly-similar
safety recommendations put forward by the investigators in each case, which
state that fuel-warning systems should be independent of fuel-quantity
says that EASA, through a working group, is aiming to publish a notice of
proposed amendment by the end of this year with a view to adapting
certification specifications by the first quarter of 2009.