It is obvious how you or your close friend may have been frustrated when you were driving and you ran out of gas while you were driving. Of course, there are various inconveniences and delays especially when you were a far off from the nearest gas station. You must have learned a good lesson of always checking fuel before starting your journey.
It becomes a real tragedy and disaster when an aircraft runs out of fuel while in flight, especially in small aircraft. Due to the advancement in technology, if the plane happens to run low on gas, they can be refueled while still in flight. However, you need a very accurate device to gauge fuel in an aircraft having in mind that lives can be lost in case it is empty. Let’s understand how this aircraft fuel gauge works.
How Does Aircraft Fuel Gauge really Works?
For smaller aircraft, they usually use less complicated float level gauge which uses magnetic couplings and other potentiometers which show fuel levels to the pilot. In larger planes, capacitors are usually mounted in airplane’s fuel tank. The capacitors show the information into the computers which calculate the levels of fuel that’s consequently shown on the fuel gauge.
In cases where the pilot is supposed to know every level of fuel in the tank, multi-level sensors are installed to transmit the information to the pilot. The fuel system also indicates the pressure, any air/fuel mixture, and temperature of the engine which is transmitted to their respective sensors. The sensors show the injection rate of the fuel and also show any harmful condensation in the engine.
The Aircraft fuel gauge is very important to the pilot to determine the health of the engine. In case there is any malfunctioning of the engine, the pilot is able to detect it on the fuel gauge. Basically, the aircraft fuel gauge is connected to various Aircraft Level Sensors that are installed in the engines and fuel tanks.
A. Common Challenges Associated with Fuel Levels in an Aircraft
One of the main practical challenges that may arise as a result of inaccurate measurement of fuel levels is the tragedy that will result in loss of lives. Most of the times, aircraft fuel gauge is affected by the height in altitudes. Altitudes mostly affect the density, volumes, and transmission of fuel levels to the fuel gauge which consequently affects capacitors.
Turbulence is also a major challenge, especially in larger aircraft. It disables the capacitors in their fuel tank and hence they cannot transmit any information to the gauge.
In conclusion, in cases of any challenge in the Fuel Gauges pilots are trained to estimate the levels of fuel depending on the plane’s consumption rate and the existing fuel in the engine. However, they may not know the health of the engine in case there is any malfunction, fuel leaks, excess consumption, air/fuel mixture and any fuel blockage. Therefore, you need a functional fuel gauge.