When most people think about aviation, we tend to think solely of pilots or flight attendants, but there are a lot of people that keep the aviation industry running smoothly. One of these aviation professionals is the aircraft refueler (or aircraft fueler) behind the scenes and on the ground.
What Does an Aircraft Refueler Do?
What an aircraft refueler does is that they are responsible for keeping incoming and outgoing aircrafts of all sizes fueled and ready to go. They safely hook and unhook the equipment required for refueling the aircraft, and they fill out the forms required about the aircraft’s refueling. An aircraft refueler will need to do this in a timely manner as well, considering that planes are constantly coming and going, and there is usually a tight schedule.
An aircraft refueler is also trained to handle situations that aren’t typical. Sometimes, they have to defuel planes if too much fuel has been added to the aircraft. And in case of emergencies, such as fuel spillage or fires, aircraft refuelers should be trained to handle those situations, because, being on the ground, they are some of the first to respond in case an emergency like that arises. Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, standards must be followed in emergency situations, and aircraft refuelers should be trained in and comply with their safety protocols.
Aircraft refuelers should be prepared to face harsh weather conditions, like rain or snow, from time to time as well.
Besides aircraft refueling or defueling, an aircraft refueler is required to keep records of fueling or defueling. Similar to cashiers, an aircraft refueler must keep a transaction of fuel quantities provided for the cost of the amount paid for the fuel. Invoices will also be issued to airlines.
A lot of equipment is used while refueling aircrafts, so it is important that aircraft refuelers keep an eye on what is being used and make sure that they are checked for quality. Since a fuel truck is being used, aircraft refuelers are required to make sure that all of the fuel pipes, nozzles, and hoses are functioning properly. This protects and keeps everyone safe.
Machinery must be checked and cleaned regularly. Fuel gauges should be calibrated properly, which allows the correct amount of fuel to be loaded into the fuel system of the aircraft. Other machinery needs to be cleaned in order to ensure that dirt doesn’t pollute the fuel.
Sometimes, an aircraft refueler will also be required to help with lavatory services, ramp services, and/or supplying equipment.
Requirements for an Aircraft Refueler
Aircraft refuelers should be physically fit. In this job, an aircraft refueler will be required to lift the heavy refueling hose (between 20 and 60lbs, depending on the size of the aircraft), climb ladders and stools around 30 times a day, raise the hoses above their heads, attach and unattach the hoses, and repeat this process multiple times per day.
An aircraft refueler must have a valid state driver’s license, and they must obtain a fuel handling or airport certification.
In addition to being physically fit, an aircraft refueler should be able to operate machinery such as trucks, motorized hydrant carts, and stationary carts. An aircraft refueler is in and out of their fuel trucks at least 25 times per day, so they have to be comfortable in a vehicle.
How to Become an Aircraft Refueler
Aircraft refuelers should at least have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and be 18 years or older. Though a bachelor’s degree isn’t required, a degree in business, aviation, or automotive technology helps secure the job. Around 21.2% of aircraft refuelers have a bachelor’s degree, and around 1.3% have a master’s degree.
If someone is applying to become an aircraft refueler and has a background in being a cashier, security guard, or customer service representative, hiring managers will be more likely to hire him or her. Also, the soft skills required to be an aircraft refueler are being detail oriented, having dexterity, and having mechanical skills. Also, an understanding of aircraft systems, engine maintenance, aircraft security, and ground handling are important skills to have if you plan on applying to become an aircraft refueler.
After acquiring these skills and background, once someone applies to become an aircraft refueler, he or she will have to go through between 6-12 months of post-employment training.
If becoming an aircraft refueler is the job for you, Delta State University offers an excellent aviation degree program. Hinds Community College offers three different undergraduate programs in aviation that would be an great starting point for becoming an aircraft fueler. But, if you prefer to go the way of a business degree, both Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi have wonderful programs to obtain a business degree. Mississippi Delta Community College and Northwest Mississippi Community College offer automotive technology degrees for those who want to have that background.
An exciting career in aircraft refueling awaits you!