Aircraft Fuel Systems

By: Eric Spoor

Aircraft Fuel
‡ Reciprocating engine fuels ‡ Turbine engine fuels
Jet A ± which is Kerosene Jet B ± a blend of kerosene and gasoline Jet A-1 ± used for operation at extremely low temperatures
x Jet A and Jet B are the most common

Fuel System Contamination
‡ The higher the viscosity of the fuel, the greater it¶s ability to hold contaminants in suspension ‡ This is why jet fuels, which have a higher viscosity than av-gas, are also more susceptible to contamination than av-gas ‡ The main contaminants that reduce the quality of fuel are:
Other petroleum products Water Rust Scale Dirt

Water Contamination
‡ Water contamination in fuel can be in two forms:
Dissolved in the fuel Entrained or suspended in the fuel

‡ Water in fuel can cause icing in the aircraft fuel system, usually in:
Boost pump screens Low pressure filters

‡ Large amounts of water can cause engine stoppage

or black ‡ The organisms feed on hydrocarbons in the fuel but require water to multiply ‡ This buildup can: Interfere with fuel flow and quantity indications Start electrolytic corrosive action . green. brown.Microbial Growth ‡ Microbial Growth is produced by various forms of micro-organisms that live and multiply in water which is in jet fuel ‡ These micro-organisms form slime that can be red.

Contamination Detection ‡ Coarse fuel contamination can be detected visually ‡ Uncontaminated fuel should be: Clean Bright Contain no perceptible free water .

) ‡ Clean means the absence of any readily visible sediment or entrained water ‡ Bright refers to the shiny appearance of clean.Contamination Detection (cont. haze. or water slug Water saturated in fuel is not always visible Perfectly clear water can contain as much as three times the acceptable limit . dry fuel ‡ Free water is indicated by a cloud.

) ‡ There is no accurate method of detecting fuel entrained water when it is frozen ‡ For this reason. allowing the water to precipitate and settle to the drain point . it is important that fuel is checked when the water is in a liquid state This should not be done following a flight at altitude when the fuel would be below 32 degrees F It is more effective to drain the fuel after the fuel has set undisturbed for a period of time.Contamination Detection (cont.

Fuel Systems ‡ The purpose of an aircraft fuel system is to store and deliver the proper amount of clean fuel at the correct pressure to the engine ‡ Fuel systems should provide positive and reliable fuel flow through all phases of flight including: Changes in altitude Violent maneuvers Sudden acceleration and deceleration .

Fuel Systems (cont.) ‡ Fuel systems should also continuously monitor system operation such as: Fuel pressure Fuel flow Warning signals Tank quantity .

Types of Fuel Systems ‡ Fuel systems can be classified in two broad categories: Gravity-Feed Systems Pressure-Feed Systems .

Gravity-Feed Systems ‡ Gravity-Feed Systems use only the force of gravity to push fuel to the engine fuel-control mechanism ‡ The bottom of the fuel tank must be high enough to provide adequate pressure to the fuel-control component This type of system is often used in high-wing light aircraft .

most large aircraft with higher powered engines require a pressure system regardless of the fuel tank location because of the large volume of fuel used by the engines .Pressure-Feed Systems ‡ Pressure-Feed Systems require the use of a fuel pump to provide fuel-pressure to the engine¶s fuel-control component ‡ There are two main reasons these systems are necessary: The fuel tanks are too low to provide enough pressure from gravity The fuel tanks are a great distance from the engine ‡ Also.

Fuel System Components ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Pumps Tanks Lines Valves Fuel Flow-meters Filters and Strainers ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Quantity Indicators Warning Components Fuel Drains Heaters .

Fuel Pumps ‡ Fuel pumps are used to move fuel through the system then gravity feed is insufficient ‡ There are three main functions of fuel pumps. they are to move fuel from: The tanks to the engines One tank to another The engine back to the tanks .

Fuel-Pump Requirements ‡ Engine fuel systems require main pumps and in some systems emergency pumps ‡ These requirements depend on the type of engines installed on the aircraft .

Reciprocating-Engine Fuel-Pump Requirements ‡ Reciprocating-engines which are not gravity-fed require: At least one main pump for each engine These pumps must be engine-driven The pump capacity must capable of providing enough fuel flow for all operations .

Turbine-Engine Fuel-Pump Requirements ‡ Turbine-Engines require: At least one main pump for each engine Main pump power supply must be independent of all other main pump power supplies Each positive-displacement main pump must be able to be bypassed .

there must be some means of alerting the flight crew of a failure of either pump .) ‡ Turbine-engines also require emergency pumps The emergency pump must be immediately available to supply fuel to the engine in the event of a main pump failure Emergency pump power supplies must be independent of that of the corresponding main pump If both the emergency and main pumps operate continuously.Turbine-Engine Fuel-Pump Requirements (cont.

Fuel Pump Classification ‡ One way to classify fuel pumps is according to the pump¶s function ‡ These classifications are: Boost Pump Scavenge Pump Cross-feed Pumps .

Fuel Pump Classification ‡ Another way to classify fuel pumps is by their method of operation ‡ These pumps are: Vane-type x Variable-volume Centrifugal Ejector .

the vanes act to push the fuel through the system ‡ Vane-type pumps can have from two to six vanes and they may be variable volume also .Vane-Type Pumps ‡ Vane-type fuel pumps are the most common ‡ They use a rotor which turns vanes in a cylinder.

Centrifugal Pumps ‡ Centrifugal pumps are used to move fuel from one tank to another or from the fuel tank to the engine ‡ They are electrically driven and some may operate at different speeds .

Ejector Pumps ‡ An ejector pump is normally used to scavenge fuel from remote areas ‡ These pumps have no moving parts they rely on return fuel from the engine to pump the fuel ‡ Ejector pumps work on the venturi principle .

Fuel Tanks ‡ Fuel systems on different aircraft may use several types of fuel tanks ‡ The three basic types of fuel tanks used on aircraft are: Integral Rigid Removable Bladder .

Integral Fuel Tanks ‡ Integral Fuel Tanks are commonly located in the aircraft¶s wings or fuselage ‡ These tanks are ones that are built into the structure of the aircraft and generally can not be removed ‡ Integral Fuel Tanks are formed by the actual structure of the aircraft ‡ The seams are sealed. to produce an area inside the aircraft structure which will contain the fuel ‡ This type of tank is used in some light high-performance aircraft and turbine-powered transports . usually with synthetic rubber.

Rigid Removable Fuel Tanks ‡ Rigid removable fuel tanks are often made of aluminum components that are welded together ‡ These tanks are installed in compartments specifically made for the tank ‡ The tanks may be held in place with padded straps ‡ This type of tank is often found on more expensive light aircraft and reciprocatingengine-powered transports .

Bladder Type Fuel Tanks ‡ Bladder type fuel tanks are basically a reinforced rubberized bag ‡ These tanks are installed in compartments which support the weight of the fuel ‡ The tank is held in place with buttons or snaps on the bottom and sides of the tank ‡ This type of tank is usually found on light aircraft and some turboprop and turbinepowered aircraft .

Fuel Lines ‡ Fuel lines on aircraft are either made of rigid metal tubing or flexible hose ‡ Most of the fuel lines are the rigid type which are usually made of aluminum alloys ‡ The flexible hose fuel lines are either made of synthetic rubber or Teflon ‡ The diameter of tubing used is decided by the engine¶s fuel requirements .

Valves ‡ Fuel selector valves are used in aircraft fuel systems to: Shut off fuel flow Cross-feed Transfer fuel ‡ Selector valves may be operated manually or electrically depending on the installation .

Filters and Strainers ‡ Fuel is usually strained at three points in the system ‡ Through a finger or bootstrap strainer in the bottom of the fuel tank ‡ Through a master strainer which is usually located at the lowest point in the system ‡ Through a third strainer near the fuel control unit .

Quantity Indicators ‡ Mechanical Inverted float gauge Rotating dial gauge Upright float gauge Sight-glass gauge ‡ Resistance ‡ Capacitance .

Fuel Subsystems Some aircraft fuel subsystems allow for fuel: ‡ Jettison ‡ Heating ‡ Cross-Feeding .

Fuel Jettison ‡ The fuel jettison system comprises a combination of fuel lines. valves. and pumps provided to dump fuel overboard during an inflight emergency ‡ This will reduce the weight of the aircraft so an emergency landing is possible .

Fuel Heating ‡ Fuel heating is necessary for turbine engines to thaw ice particles in the fuel that would otherwise clog the filters ‡ Fuel is routed through a heat exchanger that uses either engine oil or compressor bleed air to bring the fuel up to an acceptable temperature .

Cross Feeding ‡ Cross feed systems allow the flow of fuel from any of the tanks to any of the engines ‡ Some reasons that this system might be used are: Engine failure Problem with one or more fuel tanks Redistribute fuel for weight and balance purposes .

The most frequently installed include: ‡ Auto fuel STCs. ‡ There are hundreds of modifications available for the Cessna 152. ‡ Belly fuel drain valves to drain fuel from the lowest point in the fuel system. The most frequently installed include: ‡ Auto fuel STCs. which permit the use of automobile fuel instead of the more expensive aviation fuel. ‡ Belly fuel drain valves to drain fuel from the lowest point in the fuel system. ‡ . ‡ Auxiliary fuel tanks for larger capacity. ‡ Auxiliary fuel tanks for larger capacity.MODIFICATIONS IN FUEL SYSTEM OF CESSNA 152 ‡ There are hundreds of modifications available for the Cessna 152. which permit the use of automobile fuel instead of the more expensive aviation fuel.

The channels are linked together by internal mating connector for crosslink data transmission.5 inch wide. The FADEC contains two channels that are called ³A´ channel and ³B´ channel.35 inch high. the alternate channel will automatically be selected. 18.6 inch long. Much more is accomplished by this control than simply sending a signal to the fuel metering unit to establish a fuel flow to the nozzles. 4. . and weighs only 27. It is located on the fan case at 10:30 position.5 lb.FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) ‡ FADEC is the primary interface between the engine and the aircraft. Each time the engine starts. is 13.

The failure of a component may result in an engine failure due to insufficient fuel being delivered or in a fire on the aircraft.INSPECTION. MAINTAINANCE AND REPAIR OF FUEL SYSTEMS ‡ The proper and regular inspection of aircraft fuel systems is critical to the safe operation of the aircraft. .

‡ All fuel drains should be opened for a few seconds to allow any accumulated water or sediment to drain out of the system. . This requires the removal of tanks caps and looking into fuel tanks.FUEL SYSTEM INSPECTIONS ‡ The preflight inspection of a fuel system includes checking the fuel tanks visually for quantity of fuel. Sometimes a drip stick must be used in order to determine that the proper quantity of fuel is in the tanks.

‡ check the quantity guage to see it reads zero.Typical instruction for such a check are as follows ‡ completely drain the fuel tank. ‡ add fuel to the tank in the increment of 10 gal [37.9 L] and check the quantity guage at each increment to see that it accurately indicates the correct amount of fuel in the tank within acceptable limits. . including unusable fuel ‡ put the amount of fuel in the tank that is specified as unusable.

. and this dye concentrates around fuel leaks.FUEL TANK INSPECTION AND REPAIRS ‡ Gasoline has an identification dye added. fuel leaks appearing on the skin of the aircraft are cause to inspect the fuel tank. ‡ When inspecting rigid removable and bladder type fuel tank installations. ‡ Turbine fuel leaks are harder to spot when they are fresh. but the collection of dirt on the leak and discoloration make the leaks evident in a short period of time. making them easy to spot.

(Better known as unscheduled downtime). This is the beginning of sludge formation resulting in unstable fuel which will trigger filter and nozzle plugging. AIR CONTAMINATION ‡ a) Enters through venting pipes. May be contaminated by dust and microbiological spores. ‡ b) Air displaces fuel volume. It also may contain large amounts of moisture.TROUBLESHOOTING ‡ 1. ‡ HOW TO REMOVE ‡ Do not store fuels for long periods of time in partially empty tanks without fuel stabilizers . ‡ c) The oxygen present will increase the oxidation of the fuel.

‡ Tanks must be cleaned properly and don¶t allow water to store in empty fuel tanks (when aircraft isn¶t flying). . b) Free water leads to corrosion and fuel degradation. c) Provides fertile growing place for bugs. Don¶t depend only on electronic monitoring systems. or faulty can allow water to enter. improperly installed. ‡ HOW TO REMOVE ‡ If possible stick with paste for the best defense. d) Vents and seals that are poorly designed.TROUBLESHOOTING ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ 2. WATER CONTAMINATION a) Easiest to identify and most destructive.

Fuel also gets contaminated if there is some water present in fuel tanks or the water isn¶t properly drained out from fuel tanks. refinery processes. ‡ c) As the fuel cools. . FUEL CONTAMINATION ‡ a) Fuel in storage will degrade to form insoluble materials. base fuel blends and storage conditions. ‡ HOW TO REMOVE ‡ Fuel stability is dependent on several factors including crude sources. ‡ WAYS OF FUEL CONTAMINATION Fuel gets contaminated if the filler caps of the fuel tanks are not properly closed or tightened . Fuel contamination also occurs when the fuel supplied to the fuel tanks is already contaminated . formation of combustion system deposits. ‡ Fuel must be checked for impurities before loading into the fuel tanks ‡ Filler caps of the fuel tanks must be tightened or closed properly to avoid the contamination. ‡ Fuel tanks must be cleaned properly so that no water is present in the tanks to cause contamination. water will condense and generate free water. fouled injectors/nozzles. base fuel components.TROUBLESHOOTING ‡ 3. and accelerated corrosion. (Particulates & Sludge) ‡ b) Results include plugged filters.

CONTROL OF THE MICROBES a) Elimination of water is most effective step. c) Lack of water control causes internal corrosion and a complex corrosive mechanism resulting in microbial activity. c) Remove contaminated materials if possible.TROUBLESHOOTING ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ 4. . FAULTY DESIGN STORAGE TANK PROBLEM a) Most have been poorly designed. and their physical presence leads to plugging of filters and injectors/nozzles. b) Controlling micro biologics is difficult because it is almost impossible to exclude water entirely from commercial hydrocarbon fuels. b) Improper placement of water. b) Keeping the system aerated. d) It can be removed by designing of the fuel system by skilled labour 5. MICROBES IN FUEL a) Microbes cause problems because they promote corrosion. system wide.

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