A helicopter refuelling system will as a minimum consist of a dispensing unit, a pump unit and fuel tanks normally stored on a skid with incorporated bund. The fluid type is Jet A-1 and the flash point is 38deg C. A typical question we receive and a very important one is where can or should a helicopter refuelling system be located. Different rules apply for MOU’s, ships and fixed installations.
Why focus on location of the helicopter refuelling system at an early stage?
Obviously, locations for a refuelling system will need to be considered individually as the vessels are different and there are many different regulations to comply to that can have impact on the design and location of the refuelling system.
However, there are some common directions that most applications are impacted by as a minimum. As Helifuel AS also service helicopter refuelling systems world-wide, we have during the years seen many fuel system locations, good ones and bad ones. The location of a refuelling system impacts the user experience.
With this post we would like to give you some guidance in choosing the location for a helicopter refuelling system.
This unit includes the refuelling nozzle, hose and bonding cable – as well as filtration equipment.
To reach the helicopter with this equipment the dispensing unit is located close to the helideck.
However, there are restrictions you will need to comply to when choosing the location of the dispensing unit, involving: The helideck 210 / 150 degree sector (height limitations, see CAP 437 for typical guidance).
The front of the Dispensing unit should face against the centre of the helideck. The refuelling operation / handling the fuel hose is heavy. A hose roller guide at the edge of the helideck will help guiding the hose to and from the helicopter.
Operating area requirement: 1 m in front and side of dispensing unit to handle the fuelling process and to service the unit, dependent on the dispensing unit design.
A typical dispensing unit
An example of a bad location of the dispensing unit. Front of dispensing unit is not facing the helideck.
The pump unit transfer the fuel from the tank to the dispensing unit. It is therefore required to have the pump unit located close to the tanks and at the same elevation (or lower). Consider the following:
- Interface from tanks to pump unit. Hard piping between fixed static tanks and pump unit and flexible steel pipe between transportable tanks and pump unit
- Pump unit capacity calculation – make sure to inform refuelling system manufacturer of the elevation of the various units, approx. horizontal distance so that we can have the pumps and motors calculated accordingly.
Operating area, 1 m in front and side of pump unit to get access to the daily use items, instruments, lubricators, pressure regulators and so on. This will of course vary dependent on the pump unit design.
Pump unit located on the tank skid
Selfstanding pump unit
The tanks are in general equipped with combined pressure vacuum valves that generates an EX zone. Installing non EX equipment in the generated EX zone of these valves will as an example not be allowed by the class societies.
However, if you are using transportable tanks (and most are) these will need to be installed within the crane operating area. Operating weights for a typical 3000L tank is 4300kg.
Operating area, 1 m in front for transportable tanks to access the dry break coupling and sample valve.
A DNV Type Approved transportable tank
Transportable tanks are sent to shore for refilling before it is shipped back and lifted onboard the vessel.
A general recommendation: Install these units as remote as practicable from accommodation spaces, escape routes and embarkation stations, and isolated from areas containing a source of vapor ignition.
Where to locate the different units?
Dispensing unit – nearby the helideck
Pump unit – nearby the tanks.
Transportable tanks – within reach of the crane.
Interconnecting piping: To the extent possible avoid flanged connections since these generate an EX zone (contact us for details and how to avoid it)
For more specific guidelines e.g a DNV classed Ship, contact us and we will share FAQs for the various scenarious.
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