Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Aircraft Fuel

You're probably wondering what I've been up to. Believe it or not (anyone who really knows me won't), I've been cleaning. I had a big mess to clean up a couple of weeks ago caused by a couple of cats I recently adopted. They didn't like my disappearing on them to go to work, and they took it out on my couch and rugs. I think I can get the smell out of the rugs, but the couch is a total loss...

I also have a 100 year old house, and I found evidence of some little critters in the cabinets. I set up some traps and cleaned up THEIR mess too. As a result, my kitchen made the rest of the house look bad. I spent about four days cleaning my house from top to bottom. The good news is, the cats and I have reached an understanding and after this last tour there were no presents awaiting my return. My dad also was in town, and we spent some time on the outside of the house. I'm grateful that typing allows my arms to rest on the desk. I have no more energy to lift them anymore.

But I have some pictures from a trip into Canada we took last week. Above is a picture of the fueling truck dispensing jet fuel, where they measure in liters, not gallons. So we pilots figure our fuel load in pounds, since weight is most critical to us, convert it into gallons, and then for the Canadians, into liters. Some one give me a calculator! We flew down to Arizona, chasing the sun the whole way.
We flew the same passengers out the next morning. You can compare this picture of a small single engine airplane getting 100LL (or low lead) fuel. The fuel truck is also correspondingly smaller. What's the difference in the fuel?

Aviation fuel is a specialized type of
petroleum-based fuel used to power aircraft. It is generally of a higher quality than fuels used in less critical applications such as heating or road
, and often contains additives to reduce the risk of icing or explosion due to high temperatures, amongst other properties.

Most aviation fuels available for aircraft are kinds of
petroleum spirit used in engines with spark plugs i.e. piston engines and Wankel rotaries or fuel for jet turbine engines which is also used in diesel aircraft engines. Alcohol, alcohol mixtures and other alternative fuels may be used experimentally but are not generally available.

Avgas is sold in much lower volumes, but to many more individual aircraft, whereas Jet fuel is sold in high volumes to large aircraft operated typically by airlines, military
and large corporate aircraft.

100LL, spoken as "100 low lead", contains
tetra-ethyl lead (TEL), a lead based anti-knock compound, but less than the "highly-leaded" 100/130 avgas it effectively replaced. Most piston aircraft engines require 100LL and a suitable replacement fuel has not yet been developed for these engines. While there are similar engines that burn non-leaded fuels, aircraft are often purchased with engines that use 100LL because many airports only have 100LL. 100LL contains a maximum of 2 grams of lead per US gallon, or maximum 0.56 grams/litre and is the most commonly available and used aviation gasoline.

As I mentioned previously, we not only get fuel for our airplanes at the FBOs, we get fuel for our bodies. Here's a picture of our catering being brought out to the airplane. Yes, bags and bags of it...

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