123 votes
Accepted

Why are fuel tanks located in wings?

Several advantages: Wing structures are hollow and voluminous in order to provide structural rigidity against flutter and carry flight loads. This provides the space needed to store fuel. On a ...
83 votes

Why are fuel tanks located in wings?

I see what you're saying, but there's something you're overlooking in your logic. You're looking at an airplane sitting on the ground, where the wheels are near the fuselage and most of the wings are ...
68 votes
Accepted

Why do aircraft have an unusable amount of fuel?

Pilot here (with Cessna 152 hours) as well as an engineer who made it most of the way to an Airframe and Powerplant technician license at one point in life. There are several reasons that conspire to ...
49 votes

Why are fuel tanks in the wings filled first, and why are they used last?

Having all the payload of a plane concentrated at the fuselage creates a large bending load on the wings in order to support that weight. Storing fuel in the wings allows some of that weight to be ...
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47 votes

Is fuel moved around during flight on a passenger or cargo plane? If so why?

Maybe This is dependent on the air frame and varies from plane to plane and not all planes have capability of moving fuel although most large planes do. The Concorde moved fuel all over the place ...
  • 96.4k
45 votes

In WW2, were self-sealing fuel tanks really cost-beneficial?

Your description of a self-sealing fuel tank remaining on fire when lit is the exact situation of the sealing mechanism failing. As soon as the tank is punctured, regardless of a fire or not, the ...
  • 1,269
42 votes

Have any operational aircraft ever used over wing fuel tanks?

Early aircraft designs used gravity feed to supply the engines with fuel. All those designs had their tanks located above the wing, and in biplanes in the center of the upper wing. The picture below (...
41 votes

What are the pros and cons of wingtip tanks?

I happen to own a homebuilt with tip tanks for ALL of the fuel supply (Pazmany PL-2), and while they look really cool, I'd prefer the fuel was in the wing leading edges mid span. There is no ...
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38 votes
Accepted

Is there a tank priority sequence for using the fuel tanks?

Which fuel tanks are used in order of priority in aircraft? What you're talking about, in large aircraft, is often referred to as the fuel burn schedule. Light aircraft generally do not have a fuel ...
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36 votes
Accepted

Have any operational aircraft ever used over wing fuel tanks?

Both the Typhoon and English Electric Lightning used over the wing fuel tanks as standard equipment for many years. There may have been others. English Electric Lightning Typhoon (with conforming ...
  • 11.2k
32 votes
Accepted

What happens to jettisoned fuel tanks?

They are called drop tanks. When a drop tank is jettisoned, very likely it is not retrieved and reused. This is also the case with (sadly, discontinued) Space Shuttle external tank. Those tanks were ...
  • 29.2k
31 votes
Accepted

Can a wide body airliner land safely with a full fuel tank?

Can a wide body airliner land with a full fuel tank? Yes! But it is safer to land an aircraft below its published MLW. Wikipedia has the relevant specifications for the B777 and the A330 Using the ...
31 votes

Can a wide body airliner land safely with a full fuel tank?

They can land safely with full tanks but they will need the gear checked before they can take off again. It's not unheard of, if you search for "overweight" on avherald you can see a list of them They ...
29 votes
Accepted

Could airliners' wings be thinner if no fuel were stored in them?

No. The wing thickness is primarily dictated by structural demands. It has to provide an aerodynamic fairing for the wing spar. Making it thinner would drive up the mass of the structure inside. To ...
29 votes
Accepted

Is the entire length of a B747 or A380 wing used as a fuel tank?

Fuel tanks take most of the space in aircraft wings, but not all. There are other things on wings too. They are ailerons, flaps, slats, air brakes. On most airliners, the engines are attached to the ...
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29 votes
Accepted

What sort of debris has been found in 737 Max fuel tanks?

As a generic answer, not unusual. Besides personal objects like bucking bars, clecos, rags and such left in tanks, the biggest contamination source, from my experience working on a production line ...
  • 110k
28 votes

How is engine fuel kept from freezing?

In regions and weather conditions where this is likely to be a problem, other fuels are used instead of Jet-A. For example, Jet-B has a freezing point of -60C and is used during the winter in some ...
  • 57.8k
28 votes

Is center tank fuel required to start the 737-800 engines?

No, it is perfectly normal to operate without any fuel in the center tank. Until your fuel load is over about 17,000 lbs, the center tank should be empty. That’s enough for about 2 hours of flying, ...
  • 42.7k
28 votes

Why are fuel tanks located in wings?

added weight increases the structural load applied to the wings different gravitational forces and wing-bending between full and empty tanks result in repeating stresses shortening the aircraft life-...
  • 1,047
27 votes

Could airliners' wings be thinner if no fuel were stored in them?

Airplane wings are designed purely from aerodynamic and structural considerations. Supersonic fighters often have much thinner wings (and store fuel in the fuselage) because those are the requirements ...
26 votes

In WW2, were self-sealing fuel tanks really cost-beneficial?

An incendiary bullet penetrating a self sealing tank won't necessarily cause a fire. Gasoline needs oxygen to burn. The Allies developed a self sealing bladder that not only plugged holes, but ...
  • 8,587
26 votes

What could the fuel pump failure have been that my flight experienced?

The conversation may have been about fuel pumps or fuel transfer valves but the flight attendant was probably told that as a simple explanation - it would not have been the real cause. Aircraft have ...
  • 11.2k
25 votes

Is fuel moved around during flight on a passenger or cargo plane? If so why?

Yes fuel is moved around, and balance is indeed an issue. The A330 has trim tanks in the horizontal stabiliser, and so does the A380. Fuel can be stored there to balance the aircraft - without trim ...
  • 58.9k
25 votes

Is fuel moved around during flight on a passenger or cargo plane? If so why?

In 747-100/200 aircraft, takeoff was accomplished tank-to-engine (meaning each engine was fed from it's corresponding main tank). After takeoff the fuel burn schedule called for center tank fuel to be ...
  • 38.7k
24 votes
Accepted

How is engine fuel kept from freezing?

There are multiple ways for preventing fuel freezing in aircraft. In large aircraft, the fuel tanks have heating systems. Fuels with low freezing point, like Jet A-1 can be used. In really cold ...
  • 98.8k
23 votes

Is there any work on improving fuel tanks so they could store hydrogen?

First, to debunk a myth regarding the Hindenberg, which always gets brought up whenever hydrogen is mentioned. Hydrogen is less safe than liquid fuel, but it is not less safe than natural gas or ...
22 votes
Accepted

Is there any work on improving fuel tanks so they could store hydrogen?

In gaseous form, the amount of -- the mass of -- hydrogen you could store in the volume of aircraft fuel tanks would be negligible. In order to store enough mass of hydrogen, you'd have to store it ...
  • 42.7k
21 votes
Accepted

Do tanker aircraft distribute their own fuel?

Both the KC-135 and KC-10 can burn the fuel it carries on board for refueling (the notable exception was the KC-135Q, which carried separate tanks of JP-7 for the SR-71 Blackbird). Both indeed do ...
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