The fuel system is paramount to the operation of an aircraft, providing the ability to store, manage, and transport fuel for the engine. For the aircraft fuel system to function optimally, it must be capable of delivering a sufficient amount of fuel throughout all stages of the flight, accommodating for any changes in altitude, temperature, speed, direction, and more. While a light aircraft may feature a more simplistic fuel system, larger airliners implement a series of advanced components in order to properly operate. In this blog, we will discuss some of the main components of the aircraft fuel system, allowing you to best understand how they function.
In general, most fuel systems fall into one of two broad categories, dictated by the method in which fuel is transported to the engine. Gravity feed systems are often found on lighter aircraft, and they rely on the forces of gravity to deliver fuel from the fuel tanks to the engine. With each fuel tank placed within a high wing, fuel lines allow for a simplistic method of feed for the engine placed below. The other major type of engine is the pressure feed system, often serving middle-wing and low-wing aircraft. In such systems, a fuel pump is needed to achieve the proper forces and pressure for transporting fuel throughout the fuel lines. Depending on the aircraft, various amounts of fuel pumps may be present, and the most common method of powering is electricity.
Regardless of which type of fuel system is present on an aircraft, many of the components will often remain the same. With a fuel tank placed in the wings or other structural portions of the aircraft, fuel can be stored for use throughout the flight. To ensure that fuel is always clean and free of any contaminates or hazards, fuel strainers and a sump are implemented. With a sump placed at the bottom of each fuel tank, contaminates can sink to the floor of the tank where they are captured and removed upon inspection. To ensure that they are not drawn through the fuel pump or fuel lines during operation, the supply always draws from a higher point from within the tank.
In more modern aircraft, bladder-type and integral fuel cells may be present, allowing for the chemical energies of the fuel to be converted to electricity for various systems. Bladder-type fuel cells are typically low in weight, and they are constructed from rubber or nylon. With integral fuel cells, the components are implemented on the wing itself and may not be removed. As such, integral fuel cell construction is known as a “wet wing”.
To connect together the various major fuel system components, a series of fuel lines and fittings are installed. With a mixture of metal tubing and flexible rubber hoses, fuel lines can provide the rigidity and flexibility required to optimally transport fuel throughout the system. To make maintenance and inspection much easier, fuel lines are typically color coded, and many fuel lines are installed within the tanks themselves so that leaking remains within.
Last but not least, valves play an important role in directing and governing the flow of fuel, allowing for flow to be shut off for full control over tanks. As such, valves are designed to be quite robust, ensuring that leakages do not occur and fuel pressure is maintained. From cone-type selector valves to poppet-style valves, making sure that the correct components are installed is crucial.
When it comes time to begin sourcing the various aircraft fuel system components that you need, look no further than Fulfillment 3Sixty. As a leading online distributor of aviation parts, we can help you secure competitive pricing on vane pump components, fuel lines, fuel cells, and much more. Get started on the purchasing process today by filling out and submitting an Instant RFQ form and receive a personalized quote in 15 minutes or less.
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