Why Airplanes Store Fuel in the Wings?

For the majority of commercial airliners and fighter jets, the fuel used during flight is typically stored behind the seat of the pilot. But there are exceptions, which include larger aircrafts like the B747, which places large items of fuel in its wings. There is a purpose and design to this, though not many people are aware of this, much less why it is done. In this article, we will explore the reasons why such airlines choose to store their fuel in their wings and not in its usual space behind the pilot.

To put it simply (though it really is not that simple) the main reasons for airlines to do this has to do with balancing weight, counter stress and reducing wing flutter. Reducing wing flatter references an issue of balance and with “wet wings” the fuel tank is set inside the sealed aircraft wing structure and applied as a fuel tank so as to prevent the wing from leaning too back or too forward. Another reason why some airlines choose to store their fuel in wings is because it is much more cost efficient. The electrical and hydraulic components used to control the ailerons and flaps inside the wing take up just a tiny amount of space available so utilizing the wing to harbor fuel can be very efficient.

Placing the wings in the tank can also save up on costs. Large tanks require constant and consistent maintenance and mitigates the amount of payload (passengers or cargo) the aircraft can carry. With less maintenance and more payload, this design is much more cost efficient.

Weight balance and the airplanes’s center of gravity also has a lot to do with why airliners like to place their fuel in its wings. The wings are found near the aircraft’s centre of gravity so in the case that the plane is packed too heavily toward the front or back of the plane, the aircraft risks tipping over and affecting performance. Placing the fuel in the wings can potentially resolve this issue completely. Not only that, but storing the fuel at the centre of the aircraft means the center of gravity will be kept more or less constant during the flight, no matter how long it travels. If the fuel was stored at the nose or tail of the aircraft, the shift in momentum would be much larger. Any variation in the center of gravity is not recommended because it can further influence the aircraft’s stability.

Yet another (though darker) reason that airliners like to place their fuel in the wings is because it means that it will be placed further away from the passengers. If there is a fire emergency for example, the flames would be much farther away in the wings than in its usual place behind the pilots’ seat.

It’s important to understand the makeup of aircraft especially if you are working or dealing in the supply chain for aircraft parts. If you are in need of acquiring usch parts as wet wing parts, integral tank, fuel tank, ailerons, flaps, fuselage, sealants, or ather aviation parts, you can trust ASAP NSN Hub as your one stop shop and solution.


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