Aviation Oil Laboratories - Image

Aviation Oil Laboratories

Choosing the Best Aviation Oil Laboratory for Your Aircraft Engine in Europe.

We strongly believe in engine condition monitoring. This encompasses using engine data analysis, borescope inspections, checking oil plugs, screens, and filters, as well as performing spectrographic oil analysis to monitor your aircraft engine’s condition. It’s essential to conduct spectrographic oil analysis consistently with every oil change. Doing so is crucial for establishing baseline values and trends for individual engines, facilitating informed, evidence-based decisions. When unusual debris is found in the oil system, a scanning electron microscope (SEM) becomes invaluable in identifying the potential source of contamination. In Europe, there are several options for SEM and spectrographic oil analysis. We’ve spotlighted four aviation oil laboratories and have settled on our top recommendation.

What We Seek in an Aviation Oil Laboratory

Quality is paramount. We desire oil analyses that not only adhere to recognised industry standards like ASTM but also offer meaningful parameters and interpretations. We shouldn’t have to pay for parameters that aren’t beneficial. Submitting oil and filter samples should be straightforward, and cost-effectiveness is crucial.

A well-structured report should clearly present all vital information. The format needs to be intuitive and easy to digest. Our expectations for the oil report include:

    • Our unit details (Unit ID, Equipment Make, Equipment Model, etc.)
    • Contact information
    • Result Interpretation/Comments
    • Comprehensive analysis results, including previous results (of about the last five samples), averages for the unit type, and specific indicators like “recommended” limits and alarm indications (Normal, Caution, Warning).

This structure allows customers to make informed, evidence-based decisions regarding maintenance, emerging issues, or operational changes. We believe the gold standard for oil analysis reports is set by Blackstone Laboratories in Fort Wayne, IN, which provides just the right parameters in a user-friendly format (see sample report below).

Blackstone - Sample Report - Image Page 1
Blackstone - Sample Report - Image Page 2

Desired Parameters for Our Oil Analysis

  • Iron
  • Chromium
  • Tin
  • Aluminium
  • Nickel
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Silver
  • Titanium
  • PQ Index
  • Silicon
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Sulphur
  • Water
  • IR glycol
  • Fuel
  • Insolubles %
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Boron
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Barium
  • Molybdenum
  • Viscosity at 40°C
  • Viscosity at 100°C
  • Viscosity index
  • Oxidation
  • Nitration
  • Sulfation
  • IR index

Acid/Base number


In Europe, we examined the following contenders.

Intertek - AeroCHECK™ Aviation Services


Intertek offers an aviation service named AeroCHECK™. This service encompasses oil analysis, debris and filter analysis, fuel analysis, and hydraulic fluid analysis, providing an abundance of analyses and tests. Unlike some competitors, Intertek doesn’t offer fixed kits for the general aviation industry. Instead, customers can customise the analyses and tests based on their needs. While this offers flexibility, it also means one must specify the parameters they want to have tested.


AeroCHECK™ reports deliver trending data on lubricant quality, complete with fully interpreted results. These reports offer straightforward summaries and recommendations. The primary objective of AeroCHECK™ is to detect potential component failures before they become issues, thereby minimising unscheduled maintenance. The sample report we received was somewhat less transparent than we had hoped. However, it did feature customer details, unit specifics, diagnostic comments, results, and alarm indications (categorised as Normal, Caution, Warning). Additionally, there’s an analysis report key and a definitions section detailing various alarm levels and common oil condition monitoring (OCM) test notes. While Intertek provides trend reports, they don’t offer weighted averages or reference values.

AeroCHECK™ reports are accessible online via their dedicated portal, ensuring secure and timely access. Additionally, reports are emailed to customers, ensuring they receive the test data as soon as it becomes available.


Intertek‘s AeroCHECK laboratory services are strategically located in Farnborough (UK), Sharjah (UAE), Melbourne (Australia), and Singapore. Sending test samples to these specialist laboratories is straightforward, guaranteeing quick and efficient testing and reporting. Although Intertek operates additional locations for oil analyses, only the aforementioned four have capabilities for both oil analyses and SEM examinations.


We have been in contact with Intertek to request details about their portfolio and prices, but unfortunately, nobody has come back to us.

Spectro - Laboratory Services - Aviation


Spectro‘s aviation laboratory services include oil analysis, debris and filter analysis, fuel analysis, and hydraulic fluid analysis, offering a wide array of possible tests and analyses. While they provide pre-paid oil sample kits for aviation, the exact analyses and tests included are not directly specified. However, following our inquiry, Spectro responded with an example report which detailed wear metals, certain contaminants, and two viscosity measurements.


Every time a sample is submitted, Spectro provides a detailed analysis report. This report includes recommendations as well as any prior oil data, if available. Should you need further information or clarity on a specific parameter, their analysts are readily available to assist. The report features customer details, unit specifics, comments, results, and alarm indications. While Spectro delivers trend reports, they don’t provide weighted averages, reference values, or explanations for each element.

Spectro reports can be accessed online via their dedicated portal, webECHO™. This ensures secure and timely access to your data. For added convenience, reports are also emailed directly to customers as soon as they become available.


Spectro operates through three subsidiaries, located in the UK (Spectro), Switzerland (Spectro Oil AG), and the USA (Jet-Care International, Inc.).


The sales and marketing manager from Spectro quoted the standard retail price through their Swiss laboratory at €118.25 per sample.



OELCHECK offers comprehensive analysis kits tailored to specific lubricant types, operating fluids, industries, and issues. Each kit’s scope is distinctly marked by the lid colour, as well as by the lubricant or operating fluid’s nature and source. While their kits accommodate a range of substances—including oils, lubricants, fuels, coolants, and adblue—they are not aviation-specific.

Selecting the appropriate kit based on applications—like hydraulics, gears, engines of various types, wind energy plants, and more—is essential. Though the initial selection might be challenging, once the right kit is identified, the process becomes seamless. If in doubt, OELCHECK recommends using their order assistance or reaching out to them directly. An aviation-specific category would have been a welcome addition.

It seems that customisation of tests isn’t an option; customers need to identify the best-fitting kit and work with its preset parameters. Their all-inclusive kits for diesel and petrol engines—suggested for the aviation sector—are available in five distinct parameter packages. These range from packages lacking acid/base number and insolubles to those containing everything on our desired list, including an added i-pH value. It’s noteworthy that insolubles are only present in their most extensive package. In addition, OELCHECK also provides SEM analysis.


OELCHECK’s oil sample evaluation encompasses three core areas: wear, contamination, and oil condition. Any increase in wear values is pinpointed to its probable cause. Detecting impurities early is vital as they can lead to operational issues, necessitating proactive measures like oil or filter replacements. The oil’s condition offers insights into its remaining usable life. Every report features a commentary based on the sample’s wear, contamination, and oil state. Furthermore, tribologists address any queries posed by the customer. Reports include previous oil data (if available), customer details, unit specifics, comments, results, and alarm indications (symbolised by a green tick, yellow information sign, and red exclamation mark). While OELCHECK offers online trend reports, they don’t present weighted averages, reference values, or element explanations.


OELCHECK operates a laboratory located in Brannenburg, Germany. All sample diagnostics are exclusively conducted by their experienced tribologists in Germany.


The cost is based on the chosen analysis kit, ranging between €44.60 and €133.80.

ALS - Aviation Oil Analysis


ALS is renowned for its aviation oil analysis, having built an extensive database of engine characteristics and lubricant performance history over decades. ALS offers specially-designed oil analysis test kits to monitor aircraft engines for signs of unusual wear, overheating, and contamination from dirt, water, and fuel, as well as to check for any degradation in lubricant properties. Suitable for a variety of aircraft, helicopters, or oil-wetted systems, the ALS aviation oil analysis kits can be used for engines, main rotors, tail rotors, hydraulics, and more.

ALS offers three distinct oil analysis kits: basic, advanced, and comprehensive. The basic kit tests for select wear metals and one contaminant. In contrast, the comprehensive kit provides a more in-depth analysis, capturing all wear metals (bar silver), certain contaminants and additives, viscosity, and includes a microscopic particle examination.


ALS maintains comprehensive records on all aircraft and keeps ongoing histories of all engines. With every analysis report, they send a complete history and current laboratory evaluation in a format that’s easy to comprehend.

For online access, ALS provides their Webtrieve™ service. Through Webtrieve™, users can search test results, print or email test reports, generate management summary reports, and download data.


While ALS has multiple locations offering their equipment reliability services globally, including in the Czech Republic, it’s unclear if their aviation oil analysis service extends outside the United States. Their website’s order form only facilitates shipments within the US. Despite reaching out to them, we’ve yet to receive a clarification on this matter.


The prices for ALS‘s oil analysis test kits vary depending on the chosen package, with costs ranging from $35 for the basic kit to $101.50 for the comprehensive option.


Although there are several options available on the European market, none fully meet all the desired attributes. Comparing the different laboratories is challenging because they present information about their services differently and adopt varied approaches to aviation oil analysis. Some provide an array of analyses and tests, requiring a certain level of expertise and customer-defined parameters. Others offer pre-defined kits with minimal customisation options. Additionally, deciphering the pricing strategies proved complicated. At one point during our research, we even considered selecting Blackstone Laboratories, ordering a bulk amount of sample kits, and sending them back to the United States for analysis. This option remains on the table for the future.


Based on our research and predefined requirements, OELCHECK seems to be the best option for European pilot-owners. Their reports and services align most closely with our requirements and appear to offer a favourable cost-benefit ratio. They conduct both scanning electron microscope (SEM) and spectrographic oil analyses and are responsive and helpful when questions about samples arise. Located in southern Germany, OELCHECK should facilitate quick shipping times and reduced costs.

For pilot-owners in the United States, Blackstone Laboratories is recommended for spectrographic oil analysis, while Aviation Laboratories could be the go-to for SEM analyses.

About Quest Aeronautics

Quest Aeronautics is a state-certified engineering office for aviation, dedicated to shaping the future of general aviation by providing innovative and cost-effective solutions to enhance aircraft performance and operations. With a focus on CS/FAR-23 and experimental/amateur-built (E/A-B) aircraft, Quest Aeronautics provides a range of services including flight testing, aircraft operations and maintenance consulting, high-quality aviation products, and tailored support for E/A-B projects. Collaborating with industry-leading partners, Quest Aeronautics is committed to delivering unparalleled support and expertise to individuals and organisations in the general aviation market.

About Author

Sebastian, the founder of Quest Aeronautics, is a driven and enthusiastic individual with a passion for aviation. Before delving into aviation, he gained valuable experience as a chemical process engineer and laboratory technician. Sebastian holds a Master of Science in Engineering and a commercial pilot licence, with several fixed-wing aircraft ratings under his belt. He has also completed an introduction course for fixed-wing performance and flying qualities flight testing at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, CA and is compliance verification engineer for flight.