fuel

Which fuel is used in Airplanes and Helicopters?

Introduction

Which kind of fuel do they use in aviation??. Is it the same as used in our regular cars and bikes??. This is one of the frequent questions I keep getting from many relatives and friends.

There are different types of fuels used in aviation as per the type of engine installed in the aircraft. In commercial aircraft’s, kerosene based fuel is used, where completely purified kerosene. In addition additives like anti freeze, antioxidants, hydrocarbons, metal deactivators etc is used. As a result, the sustainability of the gas turbines from corrosion, freezing at higher altitudes and from other damages is enhanced.

Lets look at the few prominent types of fuel used in Aviation right now:

1.    Kerosene based fuel

  • JET A

It is a similar unleaded kerosene type and is straw coloured. There is a very little physical difference between Jet A and commercial Kerosene. It was developed as a heavy kerosene having higher flash point and freezing point than normal kerosene.

  • JET-A1

It is a kerosene grade of fuel suitable for most turbine engined aircraft. Hence, its most commonly being used on modern commercial airliners. It has a flash point minimum of 38 °C (100 F) and a freeze point maximum of -47 °C.

  • JET-B

Jet B is called wide cut fuel because it is a blend of gasoline & kerosene fractions. Jet B has freezing point, around -60 deg C & its vapour pressure is that higher than that of kerosene & lower than that of gasoline. It is mostly used in cold weather regions.

2.   AVGAS

When I was on flying training in the US, the fuel we used was Avgas, to be more specific 100LL. Avgas or Aviation gasoline is an aviation fuel typically used in aircrafts with reciprocating/piston engines. In Avgas, the most commonly type of fuel being used is the 100LL(Low Lead)

3. BIOFUEL

These are alternatives to conventional fossil-based aviation fuels. New fuels made from biomass and certain straight vegetable oils and blends of fossil yield lower emissions of particles.

This has an advantage that few or no modifications are necessary on the aircraft itself. But the characteristics should meet specifications of the current aircraft fuel systems.  They are, however, not being used heavily, because they still face political, technological, and economic barriers. For example, they are more expensive than conventionally produced aviation fuels by a wide margin.

Conclusion

So these are the fuel types used in aviation. I hope they start using a renewable source of energy soon. As a result, cost incurred per flight will reduce, hence the field will prosper.

I hope you found this article informative!!. In case you have doubts always feel free to contact me or email on sanjithkc@yahoo.com

Further Information on www.dgca.nic.in

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