There are many things that happen behind the scenes before a plane takes off, flying high over the clouds, and finally landing safely.
Pilots can’t help it if the plane still uses substandard fuels contrary to the required global standards, which would endanger passengers, cargo and pilot onboard.
It is possible that plane crash incidents triggered by the use of subpar fuels are lowly reported compared to those related to recklessness or bad weather.
But is it worth talking about plane crashes when we already have an aviation service provider, who assures local and international airlines of the unrivalled, quality and safe aviation service within the country?
We are talking about Puma Energy, which has distinguished itself for the supply and storage of jet A-1 and Avgas fuel with international standards and quality in the country.
The company, which is the oldest in the country, had acquired 50 stakes of BP Company which was in partnership with the Government, while the other half went to the Government.
This company started its operations in Tanzania in 2011.
Puma is the largest investor in the storages, distribution and operations of aviation fuel services in the country.
Puma Energy Tanzania Aviation Operations Manager Benjamin Masige has said that the company imports jet A-1 fuel through the Government’s importation Agency (PBPA) similar to other suppliers in the sector.
He said the company has a large storage facility in Dar es Salaam to store and distribute jet A-1 fuel.
“We can transport fuel using special vehicles (bridgers) from our Kurasini Marine Terminal storage to Julius Nyerere International Airport and other places we supply include KIA, Mwanza, Tabora, Dodoma, Songwe, Arusha and Zanzibar airports.”
Speaking of handling such a product, Mr Masige said that aviation business needs huge investments in equipment (refueller and hydrant dispensers), skilled individuals, professional and ethical workforce to handle aviation business in required standards.
This is not everyone’s business, owing to its huge demands, risks and stringent handling and scrutinized processes.
“It is a job that requires stringent measures when receiving, storing and distributing aviation fuels,” added Mr Masige.
Transporting the aviation fuels from one means to another must comply with standards set by the Joint Inspection Group (JIG).
He said that JIG is the global organization for the development of the aviation fuel supply standards throughout the supply chain of aviation fuel in the world.
JIG is not the only one that inspects Puma’s activities, IATA Fuel Quality Pool (IFQP) is another global organization that oversees the interests of all airlines under IATA.
He said that IFQP has the responsibility to review, inspect and audit all aviation fuel supplying companies involved in the operation of aviation fuel services at the international airports.
“There are over 300 airlines subscribed services from IFQP. For example, when Delta Airlines wants to fly to Tanzania on her maiden flight, it does not need to send someone to Dar es Salaam to search for a service provider, they will enter the IQFP portal and see the aviation service providers at the intended airport.”
At local level, Puma Energy has a business licence from the ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade and accreditations from the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) for airports in mainland, KADCO (Kilimanjaro) and ZAA (Zanzibar) and the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).
He said that jet fuel is refined from crude fossil fuels, including many other types or grades of petroleum products such as petrol, diesel, kerosene, gas, and bitumen.
He added that jet fuel has specific chemical and physical characteristics and its handling procedures is so stringent to ensure its supplied dry, clear and bright.
Only stringent handling can help the fuel keep its shape and performance as any wrong to maintain its specific spec would result in its adverse effects on engine functionality.
“Why the highest level of stringent handling is needed because of the safety and performance of the aircraft engines, as we know that once the plane takes off, it does not have parking in the sky until it lands, so you should not affect it in any way,” he says.
Mr Masige said Puma Energy serves global, local and regional airlines that do fly in Tanzania. The services offered are the same for all companies.
Responding to a question about the volumes of jet fuel uplift, Mr Masige said planes vary in volume of fuel depending on the length of the journey and the size and type of the aircraft, but the actual volume for an empty plane, some take up to 1,000 to 180,000 liters of fuel, depending also on the type of aircraft.
Hinting on milestones reached, Mr Masige said that the company has several things it sees as success in its entire jet fuel business.
First, he said their reliable and competitive fuel supply ability is to supply aviation fuel,
Second, he said it is a strong network where you operate, and third, it is take digital lead and ensure the aircraft is fueled on time, noting that these have been their corner stone value to their customers.
The company is present in many airports, which means it is a reliable company in the aviation fuel service.
The company takes huge pride in shifting to digital lead. He said they are getting rid of papers by using digital devices (tablets) to fuel aircrafts, which is also part of pushing the global green agenda.
Precision Air crash lesson
He did not comment on the accident and instead, he said the firm takes the incident as a lesson to double its safety practices compliance across its aviation operation.
“The accident is not an event that we wish for or like, but it is a lesson in ensuring the safety of the aircraft we supply fuel to.”
He also said they will continue to ensure that they work according to the requirements of the global and local regulators and thus being trusted in the market.
Relationship with the Government
Mr Masige admits that the company has continued to operate its business ethically and legally to ensure they pay duties and taxes to the Government.
“We also pay dividends to the Government as part of its investment in the company.”
He added that they usually pay skills development levies and many others which upon their collection, they help improve the sector.
Corporate social investment
Engaging in corporate social agenda has never been a hard nut to crack for Puma, as Mr Masige noted that the company has been participating in a campaign to improve road safety education in collaboration with the Police Force in the country.
Also, the company has been running a program to promote awareness among students of various schools related to road safety education.
He said they thank all their customers for enabling them to get there and wishing them well in their future business.