Intelligent Design Solution Delivers Critical RAAF Fuel Infrastructure

After twelve months of critical works, OPEC’s engagement by Australian Defence as part of the Fuel Capability Project at Williamtown DFI is nearing completion.

The project involved design and construction of a complex system that will provide fuel to jet engines whilst under test.

When Defence jet engines experience problems or require performance testing scenarios, they are investigated at one of two Defence test facilities in Australia.

“We’re really proud of our role in helping to keep jets in the air by performing important upgrade works here at Williamtown,” said Ben McDonnell, OPEC Systems Project Manager.

According to Ben, this is not a normal, garden variety fuel system. “Essentially, we have designed a bespoke fuel system which is constructed and qualified to the highest level,” he said.

With project completion just weeks away, the team were gratified to receive early positive feedback from Australian Defence on their progress.

“It is an excellent facility. In two years, you turned the installation into a state-of-the-art facility, proving that by committing and working together, great things happen,” said Corina Glavan, FSB Executive Director, Australian Defence.

Since project commencement in May 2019, the team have been dedicated to the successful completion of three distinct phases: Design; Construction; and Commissioning and Handover.

The Defence-endorsed Design phase was extensive and drew on the considerable experience of OPEC’s in-house design team. This phase also included four separate and exacting Hazard and Operability Studies (HAZOP) at 30 per cent, 60 per cent, 90 per cent and then 100 per cent design completion. There was also an environmental consideration within this phase that included the design of a water treatment system.

The Construction phase involved decommissioning of the existing fuel system and creation of underground services. This was followed by above ground elements such as roadway and pavement construction, design and construction of a dangerous goods fuel transfer skid and abundant safety infrastructure. The system was built within a 3D model.

The Commissioning and Handover phase is now underway and involves the collection of hundreds of documents which account for every facet of construction. Another critical component of this phase is testing, where all system performance parameters such as pressures, flow verification and safety components are checked, followed by the all-important fuel quality testing.

“There is no margin for error with this project. Every step has been underpinned by a rigorous compliance, safety and quality mindset, where we are accountable for the design and placement of every aspect, right down to the smallest details,” Ben said.