So, as has been pointed out a number of times in various
threads here, the maximum take-off weight of a plane is
considerably less than its maximum cruising weight.
For this reason, military and reconnaissance aircraft are
sometimes refuelled in mid-air shortly after take-off; this
them to get off the ground with more payload.
Howevertheless, the skill involved in getting two planes to
fly in close formation while someone connects up a garden
hose with a funnel on the end, means that traditional mid-
air refuelling is seldom an option for commercial aircraft
on a routine basis.
Thank gods for MaxCo. (That's our new company byline, by
the way.) We have developed and very nearly tested a far
simpler system which should allow the routine refuelling of
passenger aircraft in-flight, by even averagely skilled
First, we need to build a huge gantry, consisting of a 500m-
long pipe held horizontally above the ground, at a height
of about 200m.
Fuel is pumped into this pipe, and emerges through a slit
running along its length. The result is a continuous curtain
of aviation fuel, 500x200m. Fuel is collected in a trough at
the bottom, filtered, and sent round the system again.
Aircraft wishing to use this system will be fitted with a
series of retractable scoops leading, via hoses, to the fuel
In order to refuel, the pilot only has to open his scoops,
and fly back and forth through the fuel curtain a number
of times. As a bonus, the aircraft will be cleaned of any
greasy fingerprints left by mechanics.
We are also investigating the possibility of retrofitting
certain bridges to act as refuelling stations.