Jet Fuel quality can be severely impacted by the growth of microbiological contaminants such as bacteria and fungi.


Microbial growth may occur wherever any water accumulates in aviation fuel tanks and systems. Housekeeping measures for aviation fuel focus on regular removal of water, for example daily draining of airport storage tanks and filter vessels. The presence of water allows heavy microbial growth to occur and fuel quality can be affected due to particulate contamination of fuel with microbial biomass, and contamination with by-products of microbial growth such as biosurfactants and sulphide.  Although fuel specifications such as ASTM D1655 and DEFSTAN 91-91, generally do not include specific limits for microbial contamination, in severe cases, microbial growth can cause fuel to fail specification and there may be serious disruption of supply.  If microbiologically contaminated fuel is uplifted onto aircraft, then there is a possibility for serious operational problems. Consequently, industry guidance from IATA, JIG, ASTM, EI, A4A places a strong emphasis on preventing microbial growth in the fuel supply chain and in aircraft fuel tanks before it causes operational problems.  An important part of this is to monitor regularly for the presence of microbial contamination.

Because biocides are usually not permitted for addition to fuel in the aviation fuel supply chain, where contamination gets out of control, remediation can require extensive system downtime for physical cleaning and/or downgrading of product. Selected biocides can be used to treat aircraft tanks under carefully controlled conditions (always check the Aircraft Maintenance Manual), but this can also lead to extended aircraft downtime and potential disruption to flight operations.  Other common problems include disarming of Filter Water Separators (FWS), fuel tank corrosion, clogging of engine fuel filters and malfunction of Fuel Quantity Indicator Systems (FQIS).

Where aviation fuel is concerned, safety is paramount, and prevention is always better than cure.

ECHA can;

  • Conduct analysis of samples of fuel from your facility or aircraft in our laboratory to assess the extent of microbiological contamination. Learn more about our lab analysis service here.
  • Provide on-site microbial Test Kits. ECHA’s MicrobMonitor2 is a globally recognised industry standard test (IP 613/ASTM D7978) which can be used on-site or in the laboratory by non-microbiologists for the detection of microbiological contamination. Learn more about the test here.
  • Conduct surveys of tanks and systems on your fuel farm or airport if you have a concern about microbiological contamination. Learn more about our Site Surveys here.
  • Provide advice on remediation, control, monitoring strategies and best practice. Learn more about our Consultancy Services here.
  • Offer comprehensive, tailored training courses on microbiological contamination of jet fuels. Learn more about our Training Courses here.