More than 90% of the grounded Australian piston-engined aircraft fleet tested are polluted with the ethylene diamine fuel contaminant. Tests are continuing on the rest of the 5,000 suspect aircraft.

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has issued an airworthiness directive calling for tear-down inspections of aircraft fuel systems that test positive for contamination. It also wants the replacement of corroded components in tanks, sensors, lines, selectors, filters, pumps, injectors and carburettors.

Industry sources fear expensive component replacements and workshop delays because of the growing work backlog, although engineers believe the demand for replacement parts will be "manageable". Operators believe the Mobil test kits may be over-sensitive or defective, however, because of the chemical composition of some components, leading to unnecessary inspection procedures.

Operators and engineers dissatisfied with some of CASA's processes, and unsure about warranty implications of introducing water into fuel systems to flush out the contaminant, held an emergency industry summit on 28 January to develop industry-led solutions.

Mobil Oil has not committed to compensation beyond its original A$15 million ($10 million) "hardship fund". Neither has it acknowledged liability for inspection, repair, loss of operator revenue or employee income; or the losses of industries dependent on aviation services, such as agriculture.

Source: Flight International