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Parking brake OFF during refueling?

Never heard about this during my training, or from an instructor, or read it somewhere, but a non-instructor mate told me a while ago that you need to have your parking brake off while refueling. Presumably so that the fire department can push the aircraft away from the pumps in case of a fire.

I found that kind-of unlikely. I would expect a fireman to stay safely away from the fire if at all possible, and use equipment to extinguish the fire instead. So I never paid much attention to his remark. I find the risk of the aircraft being blown somewhere because the parking brake was off, higher.

But I was refueling at another field this weekend, and there was a notice next to the pumps "parking brake off during refueling". Funny thing is, the fuel pumps here lie on the outside of a tightly curved taxiway, so if you push the aircraft forwards or backwards chances are that that will take it closer to a fuel pump instead of further away.

Does anyone know chapter and verse on this? Is it a rule, regulation, ICAO recommendation, EASA NPR or what? Or is it just one of those "here's an unlikely scenario" things that has been taken too far?

The latter, I would judge. I chock the aircraft during fueling so that it can't go walkies on its own. Parking brakes fail. Also, since I might be standing on a tire holding the fuel hose, aircraft movement would exceed my pilot balance certification. Just kidding.

Almost anywhere I refuel, the whole lot would burn to the ground by the time any fire department arrived.

Best of luck with the new fora!

I've never heard of it.

My guess would be that it's more to do with people abandoning their aircraft while going off to pay, and blocking the pumps. If the parking brake is off (but chocked) then the refuller can pull it out of the way without needing to enter the cabin.

Just a guess.

EIKH Kilrush

We had a talk from our airfield fire team some time ago. WIth the parking brake off, they could push the aircraft away from the fuel pumps (including turning it) and/or away from any other nearby threats. While they are trained on how to reach in and take the brakes off, you might not want to do that if the wing tanks were about to go up.

I also ensure that all passengers get out of the aircraft during refuelling - it may not seem obvious (to them), since you don't do that when refuelling the car.

FlyerDavidUK, PPL & IR Instructor
EGBJ, United Kingdom

We have a local rule that brakes are off at the pumps and chocks as required. Passengers are generally bursting for tea or coffee (or to make room for tea or coffee!)but are otherwise asked to vacate the aircraft whilst refuelling. The exception being patients in the Air Ambulance

dublinpilot is spot on that it has the added advantage of stopping people blocking the pumps but the main thing is that the aircraft can be moved if,say, large rotary traffic is due to arrive or there is a fire. Moving the aircraft can also aid the firefighters in getting upwind of any fire.

Keeping fire away from the pumps is a priority; for this reason starting up whilst still "on the pumps" is discouraged in case of engine fire on start up.

I suppose it might depend on where the fire is? If it is the aircraft or elsewhere? I wouldn't be rushing to push an aircraft that was on fire, but if the fire was at the pump or the refuellers' cabin it might be a different story. As it happens, my aircraft doesn't have a park brake anyway, so I have chocks on board. Certainly we never refuel with pax on board, they are needed to push ;)

It's supposed to be fun.

I long time ago I was ferrying home a C 206. I stopped into an enroute airport for fuel, and to check the weather. I was upstairs in the weather office, and the Met fellow looked out the window, then said to me: "Is that your 206 down there?"> "yes". "Well you should probably get down there, the fuel truck which is pulled up to it is on fire!".

Sure enough, I get down there, and the hood (bonnet?) is up, and there's raging fire in the engine room. We pushed the 206 well away from everything, while the fire truck came.

I never use the parking break, other than to check it at annual inspection. If I need the parking brake, I need wheel chocks.

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

I wouldn't fancy rushing up to a burning aircraft and pushing it anywhere either.... but I think that "brakes off" at the pumps makes it easier to deal with a potential problem. Caught in the early stages - a nasty electrical burning smell, air filter fire in a 152, hot brakes etc- , an aircraft can be moved clear of the fuel bund and dealt with at significantly less risk to the airfield RFFS than if the A/C is immovably parked on the pumps.

Sorry PilotDAR - slow posting and missed your very valid points.

I've heard of it, and regard it as good practice - for much the reasons DAR puts.

However, I don't think it's widely done, and this is a useful reminder of what good practice is.


Boffin at large
Various, southern UK.
18 Posts
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