What Are the Types of Fuel Systems on a Light Aircraft?

When deciding upon which light aircraft is best for you, it may be worth considering the different types of aircraft fuel systems that may be present on different models. Aircraft fuel feed systems all work to move fuel from the tanks to the engine, but the method in which this is achieved differs depending on the type. In this blog, we will be discussing two standard fuel installation types, the gravity fed and pump-feed fuel systems.

Gravity fed fuel systems are fairly simplistic in their design, relying on gravity to deliver the fuel to the carburetor. This type is commonly seen in high winged aircraft where the tanks can be placed above the carburetor, require no moving parts, and are highly reliable. Gravity fed fuel systems cannot be used with a fuel-injection system as gravity is unable to generate the required pressure. These types also cannot work when air is present in the system. This can be caused when fuel is fed by two tanks and air is exposed to one, thus disabling feeding from either. To avoid this problem, gravity fed fuel systems are often designed to only feed from one tank at a time.

Pump-feed fuel systems feed from the fuel tank through the use of engine-driven pumps. These systems contain two pumps, the main pump which is typically driven by the engine, as well as an emergency pump equipped with a separate power source for safety. In some cases, when the fuel is pulled, there is a chance vapor-locking can occur, resulting in the  fuel turning into a gas before reaching the carburetor. To avoid this, an emergency pump is often installed so that it can push fuel instead of pulling it.

No matter which type of fuel installation is present in the aircraft system, the same result is achieved to provide flight. Both types also feature fuel filtration and drainage so that contaminates can be removed before moving forward into the carburetor. When choosing the right fuel system for light aircraft, being aware of the different ways that fuel systems are structured and function may be helpful in finding the right fit.

At Aviation Orbit, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can help you find fuel system parts you need, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we're always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@aviationorbit.com or call us at +1-509-449-7700.


December 7, 2023
June 30, 2022

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