While aircraft fuel leaks are something that no pilot ever wants to face, they are always a possibility that one should be prepared for. By knowing what to do in the event of a fuel leak or aircraft fuel spill, pilots can ensure that they efficiently resolve the situation and safely operate the aircraft for the wellbeing of all on board. Furthermore, understanding the situations that cause leaks can help you prevent fuel leakage before it occurs, allowing operators to best care for their aircraft.
Before a flight departure, one of the first steps that most airliners take is to create a flight plan. By considering airspace restrictions, atmospheric conditions, and other common factors, the most fuel efficient route can be chosen to ensure that the correct amount of fuel is supplied for the aircraft. This amount is often decided by optimizing safety, efficiency, and weight, allowing for the aircraft to easily depart and land with just enough fuel. As various changes and issues can arise mid-flight, flight planners always ensure that they account for errors and possible events that may require more fuel.
Once in the air, pilots can refer to various dashboard instruments such as the wing fuel indicator to monitor fuel levels throughout the flight. By consistently recording this data as the operation continues, pilots can ensure that plans are going as planned. More importantly, however, monitoring the rate at which the fuel tank drops also can allow the pilot to immediately be aware of when fuel is burning faster than expected. While most discrepancies between actual burning and estimation come down to factors such as older engines or stronger headwinds, some may be caused by more serious conditions that should be treated right away.
In general, the first indication that there may be a fuel leak within the system is when there is an imbalance between the fuel in each wing. Generally, fuel control systems will automatically control the rate at which each fuel tank is drawn from, and fuel imbalance checklists can be used to determine if it is an issue that requires safety measures to be taken. If the amount of fuel left surpasses expectations made throughout the flight, one engine is showing a greater amount of fuel flow, or the amount of fuel is less than the calculated fuel, there may be a leakage occurring.
By utilizing a checklist, pilots can narrow down the area at which the leakage may be coming from, and they can then check their fuel control systems to see if there is an easy fix. By isolating a problematic fuel tank, pilots can prevent fuel leakage and further determine the area of issue. Once the issue has been resolved or remedied to a safe extent, the aircraft can lower its altitude to retain a safe speed, and then a nearby airport is located for landing.
If the aircraft has multiple engines, the problematic engine may be shut off so that pilots can check the engine and fuel tanks while utilizing the flight management computer to find where the problem came from. If the issue is within the engine, fuel from the tanks can continue to be used by a redundant engine as possible. If it is from the tank, the engine can be restarted and the landing process is expedited. Regardless of the issue, no further flights should be conducted until the aircraft is fully inspected and maintained as necessary.
With commercial airliners, inflight refueling is impossible, thus pilots should always be adamant about monitoring fuel levels, conducting regular inspections, and replacing parts as necessary to prevent any dangers or hazards. If you are in need of wing fuel indicators, fuel tank parts, or fuel control components to prevent fuel leakage in your aircraft, the experts at Veritable Aviation can assist you with rapid lead-times and competitive pricing on all that we carry. As a leading online distributor of aviation parts for both the civil and defense markets, we can help our customers secure new, used, and obsolete items that they can depend upon. Get started on the purchasing process today and see how we can serve as your strategic sourcing partner for all of your needs.
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