Water is a common impurity of jet fuel, and can exist in three forms: dissolved in the fuel, as a suspension and as a distinct layer at the bottom of the fuel tank. Water cannot practically be eliminated from fuel but must be kept to a minimum as large quantities can cause engine problems, particularly when frozen, and the interface between water and fuel acts as a breeding ground for biological contaminants. The quantities of dissolved or suspended water are quite small, ranging from about 10 ppm to 150 ppm. This makes the measurement task difficult and there is currently a lack of a convenient, electrically passive system for water-in-fuel monitoring; instead the airlines rely on colorimetric spot tests or simply draining liquid from the bottom of fuel tanks. For all these reason, people have explored different ways to detect water in fuel1,2,3, however all these approaches have problems, e.g. they may not be electrically passive or they may be sensitive to the refractive index of the fuel. In this paper, we present a simple, direct and sensitive approach involving the use of a polymer optical fibre Bragg grating to detect water in fuel. The principle is that poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) can absorb moisture from its surroundings (up to 2% at 23 °C)4, leading to both a swelling of the material and an increase in refractive index with a consequent increase in the Bragg wavelength of a grating inscribed in the material5.© (2009) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.