There are many ways to have accident in aviation; even the smallest mistakes can lead to disastrous results. So, it’s important to eliminate as many uncertainties and avoidable accidents and mistakes as possible. For example, fuel management, insufficient training and knowledge about the aircraft fuel system, lackadaisical fuel consumption awareness, and poor preflight planning are all avoidable mistakes with serious consequences.
The greatest protection against failure is knowledge. If the pilot is well aware of the workings of the fuel system, they would be able to troubleshoot any discrepancies if and when they happen. It’s imperative that the crew, especially the pilot, fully understand the workings of the fuel system and its many intricacies such as the type of aircraft fuel used, the size of the tank, the different load capacities, and the valves used. Afterall, thorough training to help familiarize the crew with the basic parts and procedures is the best way to prepare them for any scenario.
There are a few fuel systems basics you should know. When the engine no longer has fuel there are two possible scenarios. Scenario one is exhaustion, when there is absolutely no fuel on board. Scenario two is starvation, when there is fuel, but it is not being effectively transferred to the engine. Starvation can mean that the fuel is being diverted because of a leak or closed off due to a shut valve or blockage. If there’s an unusual spike in consumption midflight, you may be experiencing one of these two scenarios. Diligent observation of cockpit gauges can keep you informed of how the fuel system is operating and prevent such scenarios.
Dirty fuel can also diminish the operation of your aircraft’s engine. Contamination of particulates, can clog valves, causing abnormal readings on your cockpit instruments. Really dirty fuel can even completely leave the engine starved of fuel. Be sure to schedule and follow through with proper fuel inspections and adhere to a regular maintenance and repair schedule.
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