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Good Practice


June 2011 Update

Institute of Nuclear Power Operations


This good practice was originally developed in 2007 to consolidate industry experience pertaining to successful oversight and implementation of key engineering activities. Representatives of utilities participating in engineering program working group meetings sponsored by INPO provided significant input for this good practice.

It is recognized that other methods for achieving excellence in the implementation of an Air-Operated Valve (AOV) Program exist and may be equally effective. Accordingly, this good practice is offered as a guide to assist member utilities desiring to improve their programs or methods. Member utilities are not obligated to adopt all parts of this good practice. Rather, utilities should consider the information contained herein and selectively use appropriate information for developing or improving their programs or methods.

This document describes the attributes associated with AOVs as if they are managed as an engineering program. It is recognized that activities controlled as an engineering program at one site may be managed as a process at another. The approach chosen at a plant site should be based on the particular organization structure, the oversight methods, and the perceived need for programmatic controls to improve or sustain good performance. This document provides a framework to guide development, assessment, and improvement of program implementation and should be applied with careful consideration of the respective station’s expectations, limitations, and situation.

2011 Update: This document has been updated to incorporate new references since 2007, user feedback, improved layout, recent industry lessons learned, and better grouping of sample assessment questions. Any examples in this report are provided for illustrative purposes only, and variation among the utilities with regard to the information is expected.

For additional information or to provide feedback to improve the usefulness of this good practice, contact the INPO manager, Engineering and Configuration Management, at (770) 644 8000 or via the INPO member Web site.

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Section Title Page




2.1 Program Structure 2

2.2 Program Staffing and Experience 7

2.3 Program Implementation 9


3.1 Health Criteria 13

3.2 Health Rating 15

3.3 Leading Indicators of Effectiveness 15


4.1 Conduct of Program Assessment 17

4.2 Program Assessment Techniques 19




Appendix A AOV Program Interview Questions

Appendix B Precursors to Declining AOV Program Performance

Appendix C Operating Experience

Appendix D Assessment Planning Checklist

Appendix E Suggested Balance-of-Plant (BOP) AOV Focus Areas

Appendix F Example AOV Program Health Report

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This guide was developed to consolidate industry experience pertaining to successful oversight and implementation of activities that specify, monitor, and maintain the performance of air-operated valves. An Air-Operated Valve (AOV) Program encompasses activities associated with design verification, evaluation, testing, preventive maintenance, and surveillance of air-operated valves. The intent of an AOV Program is to provide assurance that AOVs with safety significance or importance to plant reliability and/or thermal performance are capable of performing their intended functions. See Appendix E for a discussion of Balance-of-Plant (BOP) AOVs focus areas.

This Engineering Program Guide (EPG) describes the main features of an AOV Program and the respective roles and responsibilities in typical nuclear power plant organizations. The AOV Program described in this document is based on the recommendations contained in the following documents:

  • INPO NX-1018, Revision 1, Joint Owners Group Air-Operated Valve Program

  • INPO Topical Report TR4-42, Review of Air-Operated Valve Related Events

  • NRC Regulatory Issue Summaries 2000-003, Resolution of Generic Safety Issue 158: Performance of Safety-Related Power-Operated Valves Under Design Basis Conditions

In addition to these source documents, utilities should consider information and recommendations provided by operating experience, recognized industry forums such as the Air-Operated Valve Users Group (AUG), EPRI technical guidance documents, and NRC Information Notices when developing or assessing their AOV Program.

This document is intended to be applied as a reference for self-assessments, program improvement initiatives, and plant evaluation preparations. It should not be considered as a prescriptive standard. Utilities should selectively use the most appropriate information to improve performance. This document outlines organizational and programmatic attributes and does not contain guidance on the technical methods used to establish program scope, design verification, or testing.


Effective engineering programs share many common attributes. This program guide discusses attributes associated with program infrastructure, including roles and responsibilities; staffing and experience levels necessary to conduct program activities; and steps associated with effective implementation.

Without sufficient infrastructure, the program will lack the integration, organization, and support necessary to be effective. A systematic approach to managing AOV activities is more likely to ensure success. However, even a well-developed process will fail if those responsible for program implementation lack the necessary skills and knowledge, do not understand the program basis and objectives, or do not follow program requirements rigorously. Industry experience with AOV programs indicates that the majority of program implementation problems can be traced to one or more of the following causes: turnover of key personnel, poor communication between stakeholders, insufficient review of operating experience, and lack of experience or knowledge of program requirements. Program implementation is best assessed by teams that include external peers or AOV experts with knowledge of program implementation problems in the industry.

    1. ^ Program Structure

The infrastructure of an effective Air-Operated Valve (AOV) Program ensures an organizational framework that facilitates proper integration of program activities. The structure is detailed in a program description, program plan, policy, procedure, or process description. The following basic elements should be present in any program addressing AOVs:

  • Scoping and Categorization

  • Setpoint Control

  • Design Bases Reviews

  • Testing

  • Preventive Maintenance

  • Training

  • Feedback

  • Documentation and Data Management

  • Tracking and Trending of AOV Performance

      1. Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and responsibilities and handoffs between organizations are clearly defined. They include the following:

  • Implementation roles and responsibilities are specific, both within the respective organizations and for the interfaces between organizations.

  • Specialized expertise needed to support the development and maintenance of the program is defined, and qualified individuals are available.

  • Backup individuals for key plant programs are identified and qualified to support continuous, consistent program implementation.

  • Expectations for behaviors and results are clearly defined for program owners and supporting organizations.

  • Interfaces with other related programs or processes are clearly defined.

  • Performance criteria are prescribed for judging the effectiveness of program implementation. The following summarizes responsibilities of organizations/personnel involved with the implementation of the AOV Program. Because of the different sizes and structures of utility organizations, the responsibilities listed below may be combined or further divided to fit the particular organization structure. However, experience has shown that it is important that the utility/plant designates responsibility for the overall ownership of the program. The duties of the program owner are listed below:

  • AOV Program Manager – This individual has primary oversight and assessment responsibility for the AOV Program. This responsibility includes, but is not limited to, the following duties:

  • Establish the AOV Program scope criteria, giving appropriate consideration to safety-significant AOVs as well as those that affect plant performance and reliability.

  • Define the preventive maintenance (PM) basis and the PM template for program valves.

  • Monitor industry operating experience, and incorporate lessons learned and industry initiatives into station continual improvement plans.

  • Ensure AOV Program technical documents, roles and responsibilities, and related program procedures are kept up to date and are consistent with other controlled documents.

  • Ensure AOV Program requirements are implemented in appropriate station processes, procedures, and documents. This includes integration with other associated programs and site requirements.

  • Remain cognizant of the stakeholder activities that are required to support a living AOV Program. Ensure that program deficiencies, their potential consequences, and proposed resolutions are communicated to station management effectively.

  • Demonstrate ownership of all elements of the AOV Program. Be a champion for the program.

  • Establish or implement industry-accepted analytical methodologies.

  • Ensure design basis reviews and evaluations of actuator capability are performed, and understand the methodology used to determine the design inputs.

  • Provide oversight of AOV maintenance and testing.

  • Identify training weaknesses, and provide feedback to the Training Department. Provide supplemental recommendations for the type and scope of component-related training relevant to engineering, operations, and maintenance personnel.

  • Participate in AOV forums such as INPO review visits, industry meetings, benchmarking trips, and assessment teams to keep abreast of emerging issues.

  • Provide principal interface with regulatory and oversight organizations to resolve AOV Program issues. Evaluate and direct actions in response to changing regulatory requirements (for example, NRC Generic Letters and 10CFR Part 21) and industry issues such as operating experience.

  • Assist with the development and execution of long-range component improvement and modification strategies.

  • Monitor and optimize component health. Issue AOV Program health reports or performance indicators as required to communicate program health in a timely manner.

  • Develop and perform AOV Program assessments on a periodic basis, at least every three years.

  • AOV Engineer – The duties of the AOV engineer include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Categorize the AOV Program valves based on the scope criteria. Identify this in the site bases documents.

  • Ensure AOV Program scoping and categorization are updated to reflect the latest probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) insights.

  • Provide component expertise and field support to resolve AOV performance issues.

  • Ensure the requirements of the PM template are met, and adjust frequency and scope based on component condition feedback.

  • Provide technical guidance for AOV diagnostic testing and test trace interpretation.

  • Maintain an appropriate AOV database. As a minimum, the database should contain data related to actuator and valve specifications, installed valve configurations, and component identifiers.

  • Support on-line and outage AOV maintenance activities.

  • Review relevant AOV Program documents and procedures, including AOV-specific maintenance procedures.

  • Perform design basis reviews and evaluations.

  • Review AOV-related design documents.

  • Provide maintenance with AOV setpoint data sheets.

  • Trend and evaluate AOV performance data.

  • Update the AOV Program based on industry and regulatory feedback.

  • Identify and define AOV test requirements and acceptance criteria.

  • Monitor obsolete component replacement needs.

  • Recommend potential suppliers of replacement components to the Procurement Engineering Department.

  • Perform applicability reviews as needed for the various AOV technical manuals and maintenance instruction updates.

  • Review relevant software error and update notices.

  • AOV Backup Engineer – The assigned backup engineer is fully trained (and/or qualified) in a timely manner. This person is engaged in the AOV Program in order to support the following duties:

  • Assist maintenance in test performance and data collection.

  • Review and analyze diagnostic traces.

  • Independently review design basis calculations and other technical documents.

  • Provide component expertise to resolve AOV performance issues.

  • Participate in AOV forums such as INPO review visits, industry meetings, benchmarking trips, assessment teams, and so forth to keep abreast of emerging issues.

  • AOV Coordinator/Maintenance Lead – This individual is the point of contact for all in plant AOV maintenance issues. Typical duties of the AOV coordinator include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Direct and approve all AOV diagnostic testing. This function includes comparison of current test data to past test results (if available).

  • Maintain diagnostic test equipment in calibration, and ensure software is updated.

  • Ensure thorough walkdowns for work packages are completed by qualified personnel, preferably the technicians who will be working the jobs.

  • Ensure an accurate bill of materials (BOM) exists for planned maintenance and that critical spare part inventory is appropriate.

  • Identify any programmatic deficiencies relative to administrative control and maintenance practices.

  • Coordinate activities related to routine testing, corrective maintenance, preventive maintenance, and work planning.

  • Provide feedback to work planning on work package quality improvement opportunities and PM feedback to the PM coordinator.

  • Identify needed revisions to engineering drawings, standards, and other engineering output documents.

  • Provide test data to the AOV engineer as formal input to trending reports.

  • Maintenance Personnel – These individuals perform testing and conduct preventive and corrective maintenance on AOVs. Maintenance personnel provide continuous feedback to the AOV Program. In addition to the primary stakeholders identified above, members of other groups provide inputs and perform activities essential to program implementation. These support functions are as follows:

  • System engineers assist the AOV coordinator and AOV engineer by providing information related to the performance and condition of AOVs within their assigned systems.

  • The AOV engineer coordinates with the thermal performance engineer, flow-accelerated corrosion (FAC) engineer, in-service testing engineer, and other engineering personnel to resolve performance problems. The AOV engineer also ensures that feedback is given to the FAC engineer when AOVs in high energy lines are leaking.

  • Operations and system engineering personnel will assist the AOV coordinator and AOV engineer in determining the plant configuration required for performing testing, modes of operation when testing can be performed, and other plant operation information that is essential for identifying and scheduling work.

  • The training organization designs and administers training courses for maintenance, engineering, and other support personnel.

  • The site licensing organization identifies, monitors, tracks, and closes regulating commitments related to the AOV Program. Licensing also facilitates the interface on regulatory matters.

  • Planners and schedulers ensure that work packages, spare parts availability, and schedules are sufficient to support AOV-related activities.

  • Design and PRA engineering personnel, through established processes such as the design change process; provide required design inputs and technical support to the AOV engineer.

  • A Maintenance Rule expert panel ensures that changes to plant procedures and processes that could impact the AOV Program are reviewed. Examples are as follows:

  • changes in Maintenance Rule scoping and categorization parameters

  • revised functions for AOVs not previously considered

  • addition of AOVs to emergency/abnormal operating procedures

  • Plant Health Committee and management oversight provides periodic reviews of program and component health reports. This will enable prioritization of items needed to support improvement action plans, budgeting, and resource allocation.

2.1.3 Configuration Management AOV Program Documents – Documentation (specifications, calculations, setpoints, and so forth) should comply with applicable industry guidance documents and with station and company standards. Documentation should be sufficient to ensure that the program is process-driven and not overly dependent on the knowledge of any one individual. The program documentation should enable efficient turnover of program personnel and training of backup personnel. The documentation typically consists of the following:

  • site AOV Program procedure(s)

  • scoping and categorization report

  • PRA ranking list for program AOVs

  • system-level and component-level design basis reviews

  • setpoint data sheets or database

  • PM basis and PM template

  • bills of material (BOMs)

2.2 Program Staffing and Experience

Because of the different functional responsibilities, organizational structures and sizes, and staffing, the experience levels of individuals involved in the AOV Program may vary. However, it is important for program responsibilities to be assigned to individuals with qualifications generally in line with the following implementation.

2.2.1 Typical Qualifications

The development and maintenance of a strong AOV Program is directly dependent on the expertise, knowledge, and background of those personnel assigned program responsibilities. In some of the positions, the skill sets and knowledge requirements are highly specialized. The following descriptions outline the recommended training and experience for the key positions in the AOV Program. AOV Program Manager/AOV Engineer

  • two or more years of experience in maintenance, engineering, or nuclear plant operations, with an associate degree in engineering or related physical science; or one or more years of experience in maintenance, engineering, or nuclear plant operations, with a bachelor of science degree in engineering or related physical science

  • ability to communicate and coordinate with numerous internal and external organizations

  • knowledge of component design parameters, design characteristics and margins, equipment manufacturing capabilities, component operations and maintenance, and equipment reliability

  • skilled at troubleshooting valve problems

  • capable of analyzing root causes of AOV failures AOV Coordinator/Maintenance Lead

  • completion of an applicable apprenticeship program or five years applicable trade experience and a high school diploma or equivalent

  • good verbal skills for communicating component conditions and work activities

  • capable of developing troubleshooting plans for valve problems

2.2.2 Typical Site-Specific Training Typical Engineering AOV-Specific Training

  • Qualification/certification for AOV Program and Component Engineers and AOV Design EngineersThese qualifications follow the systematic approach to training.

  • General Valve & Actuator

  • Control Valve Sizing

  • Thrust/Torque Calculation Methodology

  • AOV Instrumentation (positioners, I/Ps, regulators, volume boosters, etc.)

  • Valve Packing

  • Basic & Advanced Data Acquisition & Diagnostic Trace Analysis

  • AOV Troubleshooting Practices Typical Maintenance & Planning AOV-Specific Training

  • Qualification/certification for AOV Maintenance and Planning personnelthese qualifications follow the systematic approach to training.

  • General Valve & Actuator Maintenance

  • Valve Packing

  • Comprehensive Control Valve Maintenance

  • AOV Instrumentation (positioners, I/Ps, regulators, volume boosters, etc.)

  • Basic Data Acquisition & Diagnostic Trace Analysis

  • AOV Troubleshooting Practices

  • Loop Tuning Training (for Heater Drain System & other applications)

  • Digital Positioners (as applicable)

2.2.3 Others

Maintenance personnel involved in AOV maintenance and diagnostic testing are trained or retrained, as applicable to their duties, before beginning field work. Training includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • diagnostic equipment operation and signature analysis

  • preventive maintenance inspections

  • proper valve packing concepts and techniques

  • disassembly/reassembly procedures for valves and actuators

  • common AOV failure mechanisms

  • industry operating experience related to AOVs

  • potential conditions for imminent failure

  • signs of accelerated component wear

2.2.4 Industry Involvement

Understanding of current industry experience and timely, effective incorporation of lessons learned are essential for maintaining excellence in AOV Program performance. Consider participation in the following industry wide events/organizations:

  • peer assessments

  • benchmarking visits

  • INPO AOV assist visits

  • AOV industry focus groups

  • AOV Users Group annual conferences (AUG Conference)

  • ASME AOV subgroup (O&M 19)

  • ASME/NRC Pump and Valve Symposium

2.3 Program Implementation

The activities highlighted below are instrumental in AOV Program implementation. They encompass all essential Joint Owners Group (JOG) program elements and how they can be sequenced effectively for program implementation.

Program implementation activities can be categorized into two distinct phases: initial program development (one-time activities) and program maintenance.

Activities in the program implementation phase are as follows:

  • scoping and categorization of AOVs

  • creation of program procedures (administrative, engineering, and maintenance) and revision of impacted procedures (Maintenance Rule, PRA, PMs, design change, and so forth)

  • calculation development (design basis reviews (DBRs), component-level calculations)

  • setpoint control development and/or validation

  • baseline testing

  • preventive maintenance requirements, development, or validation

  • initial training

Activities in the program maintenance phase are as follows:

  • preventive maintenance work orders

  • post maintenance testing activities unique to program AOVs

  • periodic testing (usually implemented via PMs)

  • scoping and categorization updates, as needed

  • calculational updates, as needed (DBRs or component-level calculations)

  • setpoint control changes

  • continuing training

  • trending

2.3.1 Program Implementation Phase

Several of the program implementation activities are interrelated; as such, they are implemented most effectively if performed in sequence.

The following sequencing is recommended for the program implementation phase:

  1. Develop guidance procedures.

  2. Perform scoping and categorization.

  3. Generate DBRs (and other calculations as desired for lower priority valves).

  4. Create and/or validate setpoints.

  5. Establish preventive maintenance requirements.

  6. Perform baseline testing.

Training is provided to support the implementation sequence. Early engineering training would be most desired prior to development of scoping and categorization. Training for diagnostic testing should closely follow with actual field testing experience so that knowledge is retained and proficiency is developed. Acquiring field experience on balance-of-plant AOVs, then moving into baseline testing of category 1 or 2 valves, is an effective approach.

Based on the population of valves and the number of activities, a detailed implementation schedule is warranted. The schedule should contain the following level of detail:

  • procurement of software, equipment, vendor information, and services needed to implement the program

  • date for the completion of scoping and categorization

  • Milestones for calculation (DBRs and component-level calculations) by family of valves or groups of families (Resolve any margin issues identified in DBRs via the corrective action process and/or the design change process.)

  • date for incorporating setpoints in the controlled setpoint database/process

  • baseline testing date for each applicable program valve

  • PM development/validation to the same level of detail as the calculations

The program implementation phase may require supplemental resources to implement several milestones. It may not be reasonable to expect existing staffing to be able to support program implementation within a reasonable time frame. Many facilities have used supplemental personnel to perform one-time tasks such as calculations, setpoint establishment, and PM development.

An integrated, staged approach is most efficient for timely program implementation. Categorization, DBRs, setpoint determination, and then baseline testing is performed sequentially for valve groups of a manageable size. For example, attempting to complete all DBRs prior to moving forward with setpoint determination is not recommended as it prolongs overall program implementation.

2.3.2 Program Maintenance Phase

After the program is established, there is a transition to the program maintenance phase. The intent is for program activities to be automatically scheduled or completed as a result of normal station processes.

Periodic testing and time-based preventive maintenance activities are scheduled automatically via the station PM program.

When conducting periodic testing to determine AOV condition, it is prudent to plan contingency work packages to repair any degraded components identified during testing. This enables proper resolution of degraded conditions encountered during the testing. By having work packages, parts, and resources on hand when diagnostic testing is performed, the station can respond quickly to any emergent issues noted from the testing.

Engineering procedures, configuration management procedures, PM procedures, and administrative procedures are in place to ensure required changes are accomplished as a normal station practice. Changes affecting program AOVs should be process-driven and should not require the specific knowledge or direct intervention of the program owners. However, there should be established feedback mechanisms to ensure that AOV program requirements are maintained. Some sources of feedback are as follows:

  • PM change requests

  • design changes

  • parts equivalencies

  • BOM updates

  • Maintenance Rule revisions

  • PSA updates

  • OE and assessments

  • training updates based on OE, lessons learned, and corrective actions

Processes to Maintain Configuration – Plant procedures should be in place to maintain configuration of associated AOVs and documentation.

  • Maintain calculations, setpoint documentation, and other controlled source documents.

  • Evaluate and disposition any identified deficiencies and proposed AOV modifications. These reviews are to ensure program-specific requirements are incorporated.

  • Update appropriate plant drawings, vendor manuals, BOMs, maintenance procedures, training lesson plans, and so forth associated with modifications and vendor notifications.

  • Review replacement parts equivalencies to ensure that program design basis reviews and other program requirements are met. This can be accomplished by impact reviews done by the AOV engineer.

  • Incorporate PM feedback and test data.

  • Ensure valve packing configuration changes are reviewed for impact to AOV margin.


3.1 Health Criteria

Quantitative performance measures are used to gauge the health of the AOV Program, identify degrading trends and programmatic gaps, encourage continuous improvement, and monitor effectiveness of support processes. The performance measures provide evidence of the material condition and health of AOVs within the AOV Program scope. Examples of performance measures that should be included are preventive maintenance, valve failures, training qualifications, thermal performance, and regulatory issues. In addition, compliance to program schedule commitments and use of self-assessments to improve program effectiveness should be monitored. Periodic program health reports or other methods may be used to communicate performance measures. For an example of a good AOV Program Health Report, see Appendix F.

Sources for quantitative performance measures may include the following:

  • trips, downpowers, and outage extensions

  • Maintenance Rule functional failures

  • valves with negative/low margin

  • condition reports and corrective actions

  • operability determinations

  • corrective work orders

  • impacts to thermal performance

  • OE and industry events/issues

  • backlog of design modifications and equivalencies

  • outage preparation and performance

  • obsolescence and parts challenges

  • operator workarounds and operator burdens

  • IST/LLRT failures

  • short-term and long-term improvement plans

  • budgetary issues

  • personnel qualifications, experience, and bench strength (program owner and backup program owner)

  • adequate number of qualified and proficient technicians/mechanics

  • time since last assessment

  • industry involvement (for example, AOV users group conference and benchmarking)

  • significant accomplishments (successes)

  • INPO/WANO AFIs, NRC violations, QA findings, assessment findings

  • percentage of baseline tests performed (if not completed)

  • percentage of DBR calculations performed (if not completed)

3.2 Health Rating

3.2.1 Target Values

Numeric target values and ranges should be established to provide objective and consistent bases for rating AOV program effectiveness. The indicators should encompass regulatory issues, equipment reliability, personnel training, operating experience, and continual improvement initiatives.

Ranges conventionally correspond to colors from green to red, depicting excellent to unacceptable performance. When setting target values, (a) include a provision for periodic review of the target values, so as to encourage continuous improvement; and (b) consider benchmarking when possible to ensure utility-specific criteria are consistent with accepted industry norms for standards of performance.

3.2.2 Overall Health Rating

Once individual performance criteria and targets are established, a method should be established to determine an overall health rating for the program. Weighting factors based on relative importance of each individual performance measure (or attribute) may be used, in a computational method, to determine the overall health rating. This approach lends both objectivity and consistency to ratings, which are particularly important for larger utilities when rolling up the results across a number of plants.

In addition to the health rating, an overall trend should be included to determine whether program health has an improving or degrading tendency over the last several reporting periods.

3.2.3 Action Plans

AOV health monitoring should drive action. Program health reports should include specific action plans for improvement when performance falls below acceptable levels. The program description should include documented guidance for when action plans are warranted based on objective determination of health and trend. For example, some stations require a documented improvement plan when program health is red or yellow and on a declining trend. The action plan should specify accountability for each action, expected completion dates, and a current status that addresses roadblocks and support needed by the action owner. For indicators that are at acceptable levels, some stations use action plans to achieve green.

3.3 Leading Indicators of Effectiveness

To the extent possible, system health reports should include leading indicators that identify precursors to declining program performance. A number of precursors to declining program performance are included in Appendix B. Some examples of leading indicators are:

    • Incumbent Qualification & Experience

    • Back-up Qualification & Experience

    • Qualified & Proficient Technicians and Testers

    • Up-to-date Procedures for Maintenance & Testing

    • Industry Participation

    • Owner Availability

    • Peer Interaction

    • Periodic Self-Assessments

    • Pre-Outage Milestones

    • Outage Work Scope completed

    • Margin Management

    • PM Deferrals

    • Operational Decision-Making Issues (ODMI)

    • Temporary Modifications

    • Operating Experience Reviews

    • Backlogs (Engineering and Maintenance)

    • Operator Burdens and Operator Work-arounds

    • Thermal Performance


The purpose of an assessment is to provide an objective critique of station program performance. Using constructive industry feedback, assessments can identify program deficiencies, strengths, and enhancement opportunities. Furthermore, an assessment offers a means of continual improvement and prioritization of upcoming program activities.

This section provides supplemental guidance for AOV Program assessments with the assumption that utility-specific procedures and processes for the general conduct of self assessments already exist. While the other sections of this document provide guidance on establishing program scope, attributes, health monitoring, and management oversight, this section focuses on how to verify whether those elements exist and if they are being implemented effectively.

Some aspects of the AOV Program require specific technical knowledge or expertise for proper evaluation. Therefore, it is essential to obtain outside expertise from other stations, industry organizations, INPO, vendors, or consulting firms to bring independent scrutiny to the self-assessment.

4.1 Conduct of Program Assessment

AOV Program assessments should be conducted in accordance with existing station processes or procedures. Typically, stations require an assessment at least once every three years. During the course of an overall program assessment, suggested functional areas to review are as follows:

  • management oversight

  • interface, communication, and teamwork

  • engineering (program, component, systems, FAC, thermal performance, and IST)

  • maintenance

  • training

  • planning/scheduling (on-line and outage)

  • operating experience

  • procurement

  • Maintenance Rule

  • PSA (PRA)

  • operations

4.1.1 Suggested Focus Areas for the Assessment:

  • compliance with the JOG AOV program document

  • focus on safety-significant AOVs

  • evaluation of as-left (field setup) margin versus design margin

  • focus on plant efficiency and reliability

  • processing of industry operating experience

  • past performance issues involving AOVs and whether the plant has adequately addressed them via effective corrective actions

  • effectiveness in identification of AOV problems

  • outage preparations, planning, walkdowns, manpower, and supplemental personnel oversight (use of post-outage critiques and lessons learned)

4.1.2 Suggested Documents to Review:

  • site organizational chart

  • the most recent AOV Program assessment and QA audit (if any)

  • any INPO/WANO AFIs related to the AOV Program or packing program

  • A summary list of all AOV-related condition reports (CRs) for the previous three years—only the CR number and a brief description are needed for this list.

  • the four most recent AOV Program health reports, component health reports, and so forth

  • health reports for instrument air, feedwater system, and heater drain system (most recent only)

  • response to INPO topical reports, including TR4-42

  • AOV Program implementation schedule/action plan (if applicable)

  • site AOV Program document/procedure

  • categorization procedure

  • list of category 1, 2, and 3 AOVs

  • post-outage critiques or lessons learned from the last outage

  • packing procedure

  • preventive maintenance (PM) template and PM basis document

  • AOV setpoint control procedure

  • diagnostic testing procedure for the use of diagnostic equipment in the field

  • desktop guide/procedure for analysis of AOV diagnostic test traces

  • design basis review procedure/guide used for performing AOV calculations

  • example Category 1 system-level design basis calculation

  • example Category 1 component-level design basis calculation

  • example of an AOV test trace evaluation

  • AOV qualification cards for AOV engineer, design engineer, mechanics, and I&C technicians (as applicable)

  • AOV contacts with titles, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses

4.1.3 Suggested Personnel to be Interviewed (listed by job function)

  • AOV Program owner/engineer

  • backup AOV engineer(s)

  • AOV component engineer (if any)

  • AOV design engineer

  • packing program coordinator

  • thermal performance engineer

  • feedwater system engineer

  • flow-accelerated corrosion (FAC) engineer

  • heater drain system engineer

  • leak management program coordinator (EPRI leak management)

  • PSA (PRA) engineer

  • Maintenance Rule program owner

  • engineering valve group supervisor

  • engineering/technical support manager (over valve engineering)

  • mechanic, valve team

  • I&C technician, valve team

  • mechanical planner

  • I&C planner

  • mechanical training instructor, AOVs

  • I&C training instructor, AOVs

  • maintenance valve team supervisor

  • maintenance manager (over valve team supervisor)

  • operations SRO/workweek coordinator

Sample interview questions are included in Appendix A.

4.2 Program Assessment Techniques

For assessment techniques, consult the station’s administrative procedure for self-assessments as well as other industry standards such as INPO Principles for Effective Self-Assessment and Corrective Action Programs, December 1999.

In addition to the station-specific guidance for conducting assessments, an assessment planning checklist is provided in Appendix D to facilitate logistical elements of the assessment.


Effective oversight requires management ownership and engagement in reviewing, sustaining, supporting, and improving the health of the AOV Program. To have appropriate oversight, station management must ensure the AOV Program has a clear owner and the program owner has the required technical and administrative skills necessary to manage the AOV Program. Management must require and provide periodic feedback in support of the AOV Program. In addition, managers must provide the resources necessary to affect programmatic and equipment reliability improvements.

Station management is responsible for maintaining the appropriate level of oversight for the AOV Program. The AOV Program owner is responsible for ensuring station management is informed about AOV issues and programmatic needs. Both aspects are necessary for maintaining an effective AOV Program.

The following are examples of management actions necessary to support and provide oversight of the AOV Program. The absence of any of these actions creates a potential gap in management oversight.

  • Ensure management involvement in Plant Health Committee, periodic stakeholder, and post-outage critique meetings related to program activities.

  • Participate in program self-assessment entrance and exit meetings.

  • Establish clear management expectations regarding the controls, standards, and feedback mechanisms for oversight of contractors who develop or implement program activities.

  • Implement project controls and cross-checks to ensure scheduled milestones and commitments are met for program improvement activities.

  • Review responses to internal and external audit/assessment findings and comments to ensure that effective corrective actions are taken.

  • Maintain expertise and longevity in program staffing.

  • Communicate management expectations for routine health reporting and the review/actions assignment stemming from these reports.

5.1 Program Review Committees

Program review committees provide a periodic forum for engineering program owners to status program effectiveness with station management. These forums can be presented as part of another station committee, such as a Plant Health Committee, and should be used by management to challenge program performance, develop program consistency, and ensure that improvement issues are sponsored with timely corrective actions.

For large utilities or regional information sharing groups, the AOV Program owners from the multiple stations may serve as the review committee members. For these cases, feedback and communication to station management on a periodic basis is an important element in overall program health monitoring.

5.2 Observations

Routine supervisor and management observations of program activities including testing, inspections, and disposition of operating experience and corrective actions can gauge program effectiveness and provide feedback to program owners.

5.3 Benchmarking

AOV Program owners and/or key individuals are actively involved in industry users groups, working committees, assessments, and benchmarking. Experience gained from such industry involvement is incorporated into the AOV Program.


Web Pages

INPO references, AOV-related operating experience, and the AOV Forum can be obtained from the INPO Air-Operated Valve Web page, under Maintenance Focus Areas/Valves on the INPO home page at

Joint Owners Group AOV Program Document

INPO NX-1018, Revision 1, ^ Joint Owners Group Air-Operated Valve Program

INPO Topical Reports & Analysis Digests

TR4-41, Review of Main Feedwater (MFW) System Related Events (issued July 2004)

TR4-41, Addendum 1: Review of Main Feedwater (MFW) System Related Events (issued September 2006)

TR4-42, ^ Review of Air-Operated Valve Related Events (issued December 2004)

TR4-42, Addendum 1: Review of Air-Operated Valve Related Events (2000 Through September 2006), (issued December 2006)

AD 2009-02, Analysis of Events That Involve Active Air-Operated Valves (AOVs) (issued March 2009)

AD 2010-01, ^ Analysis of Events That Involved Active Air-Operated Valves (AOVs) (issued April 2010)

Email from David F. Garchow (INPO VP, Plant Technical Support): Lessons Learned & Recommendations from INPO AOV Assist Visits (issued October 21, 2010), posted on in the Industry Documents section

Industry Action Plan: AOVs as an INPO Important Issues List Item, November 2009, posted on in the Industry Documents section

INPO Significant Event Reports

SER 4-84, ^ Failure of Air Operated Valve to Operate

SER 5-92, Power Operated Relief Valve Failures Caused by Improper Installation of Actuator Diaphragm

SER 4-93, Reactor Coolant Pressure Transients Caused by Failed Open Pressurizer Spray Valves

SER 3-95, Undetected Emergency Feedwater Valve Leakage

SER 1-99, ^ Air-Operated Valve Performance

INPO Significant Operating Experience Reports

SOER 82-9, Turbine Generator Exciter Explosion

SOER 88-1, Instrument Air System Failures

SOER 90-1, Ground Faults on AC Electrical Distribution Systems

SOER 95-1, Reducing Events Resulting from Foreign Material Intrusion

SOER 99-1 and Addendum, Loss of Grid

INPO Operations & Maintenance Reminders

O&MR 394, Component Failures Associated with Main Feedwater Control Systems

O&MR 405, Air-Operated Valve Settings for Containment Isolation and Reactor Coolant Boundary Isolation Functions

O&MR 412, ^ Conducting Preventive Maintenance on Air Operated Valves

O&MR 419, Improving the Reliability of Fisher Model 546 I/P Converters

EPRI Reports

NP-5697, Valve Stem Packing Improvements, May 1988

NP-7079, Instrument Air Systems – A Guide for Power Plant Maintenance Personnel, Dec. 1990

NP-7412-R1, Air Operated Valve Maintenance Guide

TR-1000704,^ Experiences and Attributes of Successful Valve Teams, Dec. 2000

TR-1003091, Valve Positioner Principles and Maintenance Guide

TR-1003472, Level Control Guide for Feedwater Heaters, Moisture Separator/Reheaters and Other Equipment

TR-1007915, Solenoid Valve Maintenance Guide

TR-102051, ^ Guidelines for the Selection and Application of Power Plant Control Valves

TR-105852V1, Valve Application, Maintenance, and Repair Guide, February 1999

TR-106857-V1 & 2000 Addendum, Preventive Maintenance Basis Volume 1: Air Operated Valves

TR-107321, Application Guide for Evaluation of Actuator Output Capability for Air-Operated Valves in Nuclear Power Plants

TR-107322, ^ Air Operated Valve Evaluation Guide

Other Documents

INPO Letter dated April 18, 1997 to the industry on air-operated valve issues from Manager, Engineering Support Department

PPM Software Error Notice 2004-2, Potential Non-Conservatism in Butterfly Valve Model Predictions Under Compressible Flow Conditions

NUREG/CR-6654, ^ A Study of Air-Operated Valves in U.S. Nuclear Power Plants, February 2000

NUREG-1275, Evaluation of Air-Operated Valves at U.S. Light-Water Reactors

NRC Generic Letter 95-07, Pressure Locking and Thermal Binding of Safety-Related Power Operated Gate Valves

NRC Generic Letter 96-06, Assurance of Equipment Operability and Containment Integrity During Design

NRC RIS 2000-03, ^ Resolution of Generic Safety Issue 158: Performance of Safety-Related Power-Operated Valves Under Design Basis Conditions

NRC IN 2006-15, Vibration-Induced Degradation and Failure of Safety-Related Valves

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