Aviation

Gas for small planes temporarily unavailable at Eisenhower Airport

The general aviation apron at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport, looking south. (June 22, 2017)
The general aviation apron at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport, looking south. (June 22, 2017) The Wichita Eagle

If you’re looking to fill up your piston-engine airplane at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport, you’ll have to go somewhere else for gas.

An airport official said Monday that the gas – known as avgas – is not available at Eisenhower at the moment because of an unidentified particulate found in the airport’s supply about a week ago.

Brad Christopher, assistant director of airports for the Wichita Airport Authority, said the material was found in the avgas supply during a routine quality control check.

It was “some sort of very, very small solid,” Christopher said. “It was so small it made it through the filtration system.”

The airport notified pilots by way of a Federal Aviation Administration Notice to Airmen, he said.

The issue did not affect the avgas supply at Jabara Airport on the east side of town, he said.

It also doesn’t affect the fuel used by turbine aircraft, including passenger jets at Eisenhower. They use a type of fuel called Jet-A, he said.

The storage area that houses the avgas is owned by the airport authority and managed by Signature Flight Support. Christopher said one of Signature’s workers discovered the particulate.

Signature and Yingling Aviation, Eisenhower’s two fixed-base operators, provide aircraft fueling services at the airport.

He said the particulate didn’t come from the airport’s storage system. It could have come from the tank it was transported in, or from the supplier of the avgas, ConocoPhillips.

He said both the airport and ConocoPhillips have taken samples of the avgas for testing at different labs.

“There’s a lot of laboratory analysis going on right now,” Christopher said. “We can’t take a risk, assuming it’s OK.”

Yingling was able to get about 1,000 gallons of avgas from another company late last week, but “we’re about out of it,” president Lonnie Vaughan said late Monday afternoon.

Christopher said the halting of avgas sales probably will have some effect on the airport’s revenue. The airport earns about 12 cents of every gallon of avgas sold.

“Certainly there’s a revenue impact … (but) it’s not a huge consideration for us.” That’s because Jet A fuel is more widely used at Eisenhower. For the first eight months of 2017, nearly 80,000 gallons of avgas have been sold compared with 8.3 million gallons of Jet A, according to airport data.

Christopher said he hopes there will be a resolution yet this week, and that the airport’s fixed-base operators will be able to start selling and pumping avgas again.

That resolution “must result in the airport authority, Yingling and Signature being confident that we’ve got a good, clean, safe fuel product,” he said.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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