By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
UPDATE 8/13/2012: World Fuels received independent fuel testing results and announced in part, "testing found the fuel to be in compliance with all specification requirements for Avgas Grade 100LL." (Full report, here -- PDF)
Truckee Tahoe airport authorities told AVweb Friday they have swapped out their self-serve 100LL and contacted pilots after initial tests following a fatal crash suggested there may have been a problem with fuel sold on the airport. As of Friday, it was not clear if there was a problem with the fuel, with the testing, or if any other airports might be affected. The crash took place at the California airport on Aug. 3, when an O-540-powered PA-24 Piper Comanche that had fueled up on the field crashed into a hangar shortly after takeoff, killing the pilot. Kevin Smith, general manager, Truckee Tahoe airport district, told AVweb Friday that the airport immediately stopped selling fuel after the crash as part of protocol and sent fuel samples to an independent lab for testing. Those results were inconclusive, Smith said, but showed a discrepancy regarding octane levels. That was enough for the airport to replace its supply and start looking for and replacing fuel in potentially affected aircraft while waiting on more lab results over the weekend. Some potentially affected pilots may yet be unaware.
Based on the early results, airport officials had fuel supplier World Fuels empty the airport's potentially affected tanks and replace the airport's fuel supply. World Fuels is also working to discern whether or not discrepancies identified by early tests are indicative of an actual problem in the supply chain. Smith said the airport put out a press release and attempted to contact by phone the roughly 160 pilots that airport records show purchased 100LL at TRK between July 23 and Aug. 3. Fuel sales resumed at TRK on Aug. 7, only after World Fuels drained and replaced the suspect fuel. The potential problem has earned the attention of Chevron, which is waiting on another set of test results from a different independent lab. Until they have conclusive results, Smith says, "We're a government agency, not an FBO. We're trying to be as transparent as possible. The bottom line is that we put safety before profits. We're doing our best to find pilots who might be affected, let them know what the situation is, and allow them to make an educated decision. We're draining tanks and swapping fuel if that's what they want." Smith says he hoped to have a new set of lab results in hand over the weekend and hopefully some resolution.