Aircraft Fuel System

While aircraft fuel systems are not regarded as one of the glamorous feature of an aircraft functionality they are an essential feature of all aircraft. Their implementation and functional characteristics play a critical role in the design, certification and operational aspects of both military and commercial planes. In fact the impact of fuel system design on an aircraft operational capabilities encompasses a range of technologies that are much more significant than the non-specialist would at first realize, particularly when considering the complexities of large transport and high speed military aircraft applications.

An aircraft fuel system may be defined as a system which enables the fuel to be loaded, stored, managed and delivered to the propulsion system (engine(s)) of an aircraft. Fuel systems differ greatly from aircraft to aircraft due to the relative size and complexity of the aircraft in which they are installed. In the most basic form, a fuel system will consist of a single, gravity feed fuel tank with the associated fuel line connecting it to the aircraft engine.

In a modern, multi-engine passenger or cargo aircraft, the fuel system is likely to consist of multiple fuel tanks which may be located in the wing or the fuselage (or both) and, in some cases, the empange. Each tank will be equipped with internal fuel pumps and have the associated valves and plumbing to feed the engines, allow for refueling and defueling, isolate the individual tanks and, in some applications, allow for fuel dumping or for optimization of aircraft’s center of gravity.

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