How Aircraft Fuel Systems Work?

The fuel system is an extremely integral part of aircraft as it helps to deliver fuel to engine, creating power and propulsion that allows for flight. Basic aircraft often have a single fuel tank that is gravity fed and a fuel line that connects the tank to the aircraft engine. Modern aircraft, however, are more complex and may include multiple fuel tanks with plumbing, valves, and internal fuel pumps. No matter the amount of tanks and components, an aircraft fuel system always consists of an aircraft fuel system and an engine fuel system. With the varying types that exist in differing types of aircraft, how do their fuel systems function?

Along with varying types of aircraft fuel systems, there are also different types of fuel depending on the type of aircraft and application. Military grade fuel will often be denoted by the letters “JP” before their name, such as JP-8 which is widely used by the US military. Standard commercial airliners use A, A-1, and B fuel, which can also be used by military aircraft as well when JP fuel is not available.

Fuel tanks of aircraft are designed in varying shapes, size, construction, and location depending on the aircraft type. Nevertheless, most tanks include access panels for repair, pumps, strainers, quantity indicators, valves, vents, and drains. Fuel begins from the tank and is piped through fuel lines to the control valve, often utilizing gravity feeding or pump feed systems. Valves are helpful for crews as they can be shut off to prevent fuel, as well as enable control of flow to decide which tanks feed the engine. By controlling which tank feeds the engine, fuel load can be balanced and help the aircraft to avoid unbalanced weight, which may cause banking.

As fuel leaves the tank, air is allowed into the tank to replace the fuel that has been burned, preventing fuel starvation. Fuel lines take fuel slightly above the bottom of the tank, ensuring that contaminates such as dirt do not enter the engine. The fuel runs through conductive pipes that prevent or dissipate static charge buildup. Fuel then passes through the gascolator which collects contaminates in the fuel, and then to a fine filter before it enters the carburetor. The carburetor is a device which mixes fuel with air for the internal combustion engines. The mixture is finally pushed into the aircraft engine in which the fuel is ignited for the turbines to extract power and create propulsion.

At ASAP Aviation Unlimited, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find aircraft maintenance and repair parts you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we're always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-919-348-4040.


June 1, 2020


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