Fuel Leaks in Aircraft
Finding and fixing aircraft fuel tank leaks has always been an arduous and time-consuming process, many times best left to a specialists. Generally, the aircraft is pulled from service and parked in a hangar or designated safe area.
The general area of the leak is marked; the tank defueled, opened, vented and allowed to dry. Next, the AMT dresses in anti-static clothing, ensures that the tank environment meets safety standards, and enters the tank. The area in question is located, sealant removed, and fasteners replaced if necessary. The worked area is cleaned and prepped for the reseal. The sealant is allowed to dry and openings are closed. The tank is pressurized with shop air and the suspected area is sprayed with a soap solution. AMTs watch for telltale bubbles. If they do appear, the process is repeated, and oversized fasteners are installed and/or another round of sealant is applied. If no bubbles appear, the tank is refueled and put on watch for leaks. If no leaks appear, the aircraft can be returned to service.
Fixing leaks is a big part of an AMT’s professional life. It is also big business.