In Flight Refueling For Commercial Airliners

Students1: B.J.J. Bennebroek, T.N. van Dijk, J. el Haddar, S.M. Hooning, H. de Jong, C.J. Laumans, N.N. Ajang Ngaaje, A. Es-Saghouani, S.M.T. Suliman, Y. Xiong

Project tutor: ir. P.C. Roling

Coaches: ir. J. Breukels, dr. A.A. Ghobbar, capt. V. Lymberopoulos

Current long distance commercial flights require refueling stops, which always lead to an increase in total travel time. Flying with ultra long range aircraft can make refueling stops redundant, but at the expense of replacing useful payload capacity with fuel in order to cover the long distance. In other words, fuel is burned to transport fuel. Furthermore, the rising fuel price and increasing attention to the aviation industry’s role in global climate change, place pressure on commercial aviation to improve fuel efficiency. Therefore refueling during the flight can be the ideal option to save time, increase payload, and improve fuel efficiency.

In-flight refueling (IFR) has been used successfully in the military for the past 85 years. However, it has not yet been applied in commercial aviation. The existing refueling systems and operational experiences gained from the military provide the initial steps for implementation in commercial aviation.
The project includes the designs of the refueling system and investigations on performance, economical and environmental aspects to demonstrate the attractiveness of IFR, as defined in the project objective statement:

Design an in-flight refueling system for commercial aviation and evaluate its economic and environmental potential and safety, within 10 weeks with 10 people.

The paper of this project is availbel as a PDF-document here.

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