As the aviation industry continues to develop at a faster rate, aircraft ground handling requirements are becoming more stringent. Due to growing passenger traffic and flight schedule density, shortening turnover times is becoming vital for international hubs. Refueling is a particularly important part of the process with even the smallest discrepancies leading to potential disruption as well as financial and reputational damage for both fuel operators and airlines alike. Today, market players need to introduce flexible record keeping systems and adapt to the increasing pace of industry’s digital development.

Gazpromneft Aero is one of global jet fuel operators that is actively introducing new technological solutions to power its operations worldwide. Russia’s leader in the retail sale of jet fuel is deploying an automated documentation system, which provides real-time control over every stage in the refueling process from receiving aviation kerosene at the station to the refueling on the apron. All data is collected and processed to guarantee continuous improvements to be made in the operational process.

For example, digital sensors have been installed in the tankers and these enable remote control the mass, temperature and density of the jet fuel. The company also receives fuel quality data from the lab, which analyses and approves the kerosene before it is supplied to aircraft. 

However, various operations still require human intervention, such as first-time post-delivery fuel quality control. But even here the process has been partially digitized to provide a more precise analysis. All Gazpromneft Aero employees are provided with tablets protected by shock and explosion-proof cases. The devices significantly increase the volume of data we process and this, in turn, helps to increase efficiencies and reduce workload. Thankfully, employees no longer have to calculate fuel mass in tanks, and manually transfer paper documentation into computers.  Today, a few touches on the tablet produces data that’s directly submitted to the control center for immediate analysis.

Refueling activity at the apron has become a key focus for digital innovation. After receiving a request for refueling from an airline, the system processes flight data (flight number, parking lot, planned refueling start time) received from traffic control and sends all necessary information to the wingman’s tablet.

Modern jet fuel trucks are now equipped with a mass meter, GSM unit, printer and electronic display to significantly reduce the amount of time spent by the operator in preparing the required documents. This mitigates any human errors as all values are calculated digitally. When coupled with blockchain-based mutual settlements that are increasingly being deployed by some airlines, refueling has become as easy as getting a cup of coffee. This is yet one more example of how bringing digital innovation to ground handling means saving not only time but money for all parties involved.