Basic Aircraft Fuel System

The basic parts of a fuel system include tanks, boost pumps, lines, selector valves, strainers, engine-driven pumps, and pressure gauges. A review of fuel systems in the Aviation Maintenance Technician—General section provides some information concerning these components.

Generally, there are several tanks, even in a simple system, to store the required amount of fuel. The location of these tanks depends on both the fuel system design and the structural design of the aircraft. From each tank, a line leads to the selector valve. This valve is set from the cockpit to select the tank from which fuel is to be delivered to the engine. The boost pump forces fuel through the selector valve to the main line strainer. This filtering unit, located in the lowest part of the system, removes water and dirt from the fuel. During starting, the boost pump forces fuel through a bypass in the engine-driven pump to the metering device. Once the engine-driven pump is rotating at sufficient speed, it takes over and delivers fuel to the metering device at the specified pressure.

The airframe fuel system begins with the fuel tank and ends at the engine fuel system. The engine fuel system usually includes the engine-driven pumps and the fuel metering systems. In aircraft powered with a reciprocating engine, the engine-driven fuel pump and metering system consists of the main components from the point at which the fuel enters the first control unit until the fuel is injected into the intake pipe or cylinder. For example, the engine fuel system of a typical engine has an engine-driven fuel pump, the fuel/air control unit (metering device), the fuel manifold valve, and the fuel discharge nozzles. The fuel metering system on current reciprocating engines meters the fuel at a predetermined ratio to airflow. The airflow to the engine is controlled by the carburetor or fuel/air control unit.

The fuel metering system of the typical gas turbine engine consists of an engine-driven pump, fuel flow transmitter, fuel control with an electronic engine control, a distribution system or manifold, flow divider, and fuel discharge nozzles. On some turboprop engines, a fuel heater and a start control is a part of the engine fuel system. The rate of fuel delivery can be a function of air mass flow, compressor inlet temperature, compressor discharge pressure, compressor revolutions per minute (rpm), exhaust gas temperature, and combustion chamber pressure.