Pilot and student pilot community. Share your pilot lessons or aviation stories.

Aircraft Fuel Systems (Part Two)

in Aircraft Systems

Fuel Gauges

The aircraft fuel systems fuel quantity gauges indicate the amount of fuel measured by a sensing unit in each fuel tank and is displayed in gallons or pounds. Aircraft certification rules require accuracy in fuel gauges only when they read “empty.” Any reading other than “empty” should be verified. Do not depend solely on the accuracy of the fuel quantity gauges. Always visually check the fuel level in each tank during the preflight inspection, and then compare it with the corresponding fuel quantity indication.

If a fuel pump is installed in the fuel system, a fuel pressure gauge is also included. This gauge indicates the pressure in the fuel lines. The normal operating pressure can be found in the AFM/POH or on the gauge by color coding.

Fuel Selectors

The aircraft fuel systems fuel selector valve allows selection of fuel from various tanks. A common type of selector valve contains four positions: LEFT, RIGHT, BOTH, and OFF. Selecting the LEFT or RIGHT position allows fuel to feed only from that tank, while selecting the BOTH position feeds fuel from both tanks. The LEFT or RIGHT position may be used to balance the amount of fuel remaining in each wing tank. [Figure 6-31]

Fuel selector valve

Figure 6-31. Fuel selector valve.

Fuel placards will show any limitations on fuel tank usage, such as “level flight only” and/or “both” for landings and takeoffs.

Regardless of the type of fuel selector in use, fuel consumption should be monitored closely to ensure that a tank does not run completely out of fuel. Running a fuel tank dry will not only cause the engine to stop, but running for prolonged periods on one tank causes an unbalanced fuel load between tanks. Running a tank completely dry may allow air to enter the fuel system and cause vapor lock, which makes it difficult to restart the engine. On fuel-injected engines, the fuel becomes so hot it vaporizes in the fuel line, not allowing fuel to reach the cylinders.

Fuel Strainers, Sumps, and Drains

In aircraft fuel systems, after leaving the fuel tank and before it enters the carburetor, the fuel passes through a strainer which removes any moisture and other sediments in the system. Since these contaminants are heavier than aviation fuel, they settle in a sump at the bottom of the strainer assembly. A sump is a low point in a fuel system and/or fuel tank. The fuel system may contain sump, fuel strainer, and fuel tank drains, which may be collocated.

The fuel strainer should be drained before each flight. Fuel samples should be drained and checked visually for water and contaminants.

Water in the sump is hazardous because in cold weather the water can freeze and block fuel lines. In warm weather, it can flow into the carburetor and stop the engine. If water is present in the sump, more water in the fuel tanks is probable and they should be drained until there is no evidence of water. Never take off until all water and contaminants have been removed from the engine fuel system.

Because of the variation in aircraft fuel systems, become thoroughly familiar with the systems that apply to the aircraft being flown. Consult the AFM/POH for specific operating procedures.

1 Milly May 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Dear Sir,
I am a student working on a project about using DiEGME as a ice inhibitor and I have got a question. could you possibly help me? I want to know how it is possible to detect ice formation in a solution of fuel and FSII? is it possible to use for example viscosity or light scattering methods for detecting tiny ice crystals in the fuel (100LL)? I appreciate your help.

Sincerely yours,

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: