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Curtain in-air refuelling

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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 allows 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 pilots.

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 tanks.

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.

MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 18 2015

" I'm just trying to find the bridge... Has anybody seen the bridge? " Sergeant_20Fletcher_20Fuel_20Scavenger
[normzone, Aug 18 2015]


       Note to jet pilots: turn afterburners way down upon entry...
RayfordSteele, Aug 18 2015

       There is a system similar to this up the street used to evenly apply frosting to donuts. I think the trough at the bottom part works better than would be the case for this scheme.   

       The wily pilot will angle and fly parallel alongside the curtain, collecting fuel with a ladle extended out one wing. Flying thru the curtain tends to loosen up the decals on the outside. Nothing gets more teasing than having your decals fall off. The clouds of flame when you accidentally ignite the curtain is also tough on the decals.
bungston, Aug 18 2015

       //curtain tends to loosen up the decals//   

       I'm not so sure. I presume plane decals are fitted the same way as Airfix decals - you soak them in water then slide them off onto the aircraft and let them dry out. Should be fairly resistant to non- aqueous solvents.   

       However, on a related note the system could be modified to provide an instant re-paint service for aircraft.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 18 2015

       Planes pass thru too fast & won't collect much fuel.   

       So, this would work better to refuel a helicopter.
sophocles, Aug 18 2015

       //Planes pass thru too fast & won't collect much fuel.// Hence the need to fly back and forth.
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 18 2015

       This is how those water-bombing aircraft work when refilling. Dropping aviation fuel on a forest fire would look quite a lot like the beginning of Apocalypse Now. Not always a bad thing
bs0u0155, Aug 18 2015


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