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In flight refuelled airliners

Antonio

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I've heard recently from aircraft engineers that airliners could be operated more economically if refuelled in flight or even flying in formation.

Today, I've found an article about airliner refuelling with conceptual designs from 1949. Here's the link:

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1949/1949%20-%200167.html
 

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Orionblamblam

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pometablava said:
I've heard recently from aircraft engineers that airliners could be operated more economically if refuelled in flight or even flying in formation.

Yes. Formation flying, as demonstrated by birds in V-formation, could do wonders for fuel economy. It has never really been done because it's *hard,* especially in anything other than still air. But with the advent of computer controls, it could be a lot easier to do.

The problem is... the good things it'd do for fuel economy probably wouldn't offset the bad things. If you need at least three planes for such a formation (and for all I know it'd take more), then you'd need to find three planes going in the same direction at the same time. This probably means that the three planes would have to leave from the same airport and land at the same airport... which means that the first plane to take off would have to orbit the airport for a while while it waited for the other planes in the "flock."

Bleah.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Considering the costs of mid way stop overs on long legs its a surprise that airlines have never gotten into IFR. Certainly flying to and from Europe and East Coast USA to Australia could do with it to save the Singapore/Bangkok/Dubai/Hawaii stopover.
 

Jemiba

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Maybe, regarding the always big headlines about "near misses", not to mention
mid-airs, apart from the technical problems, there could be a problem of
acceptance by the passengers, I think. Just imagine those news:

"Military flight procedures for airliners !"
"Airliners shall fly separated only by some YARDS - Still yet, MILES didn't seem to be enough !"

Which carrier dares to start such procedures ?
 

PMN1

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BOAC were planning on using it for their transatlantic flying boats but WW2 got in the way.

An interesting read is 75 years of In Flight Refuelling Highlights 1923 - 1998 by Richard K Smith

http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/75yrs_inflight_refueling.pdf

Also IIRC, the pre war specification that led to the Short S32 also mentioned IFR.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Jemiba said:
Which carrier dares to start such procedures ?

Since I'm about to fly to the Mediterranean region this weekend from east coast Australia I would like it. Shaving two hours of each flight with the Bangkok stop over would be awesome. Once you get people in that can for long haul flights as long as the plane stays level they don't care. IFR is a proven safe military operation.
 

ucon

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Il-86 test refuling
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4933.msg39116/highlight,unknown+ilyushin+project.html#msg39116
 

Antonio

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Il-86 test refuling

from a military tanker

IFR is a proven safe military operation.

Maybe some Airlines could operate tankers in the future. ;)

The engineer I heard told that the in flight refuelling could be the only choice for future airline operators if radical new airliner designs are going to be inviable for security regulations.
He told that a big flying wing can't be evacuated as quick as it is established in the current normatives.
 

hesham

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Hi,

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3763.msg29658/highlight,1949+200168.html#msg29658
 

hole in the ground

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Even if the aircraft have to land and refuel you can increase the efficiency of aircraft on long hauls. If people are really serious about increased efficiency and dont mind spending longer in aircraft (i doubt that they do) then shorter ranged aircraft doing hops on overland long haul flights would be the best way of doing things.

edit: *ref. RR lecture recently
 

KJ_Lesnick

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How hard could it possibly be? I mean transport pilots in the USAF do it all the time? I'm pretty sure commercial pilots could probably be trained to do the exact same thing with the same current avionics used on commercial airliners.


KJ Lesnick
 

robunos

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http://www.airforcehistory.hq.af.mil/Publications/fulltext/75yrs_inflight_refueling.pdf

what happened to the pictures? ???
other than that, very interesting,

cheers,
Robin.
 

hesham

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Hi,

here is a 3-view to Flying Refuelling FR.12 double deck airliner Project.

http://www.avia-it.com/act/biblioteca/periodici/PDF%20Riviste/Ala/L'Ala%201946%2007-8.pdf
 

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Schneiderman

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http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,7663.msg285989.html#msg285989
 

thefrecklepuny

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Interesting concept. However, who'd operate the tankers? Would they be dedicated a la KC-135 and KC-10? Or simply older airliners with a refuelling hose added?
 

CJGibson

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The RAF/Air Staff were very much against in-flight refueling of trooping flights, especially family trooping flights. I couldn't find out why. Could be down to something as simple as nobody should be sitting in a Duralumin tube for long periods.

Chris
 

gtg947h

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CJGibson said:
The RAF/Air Staff were very much against in-flight refueling of trooping flights, especially family trooping flights. I couldn't find out why. Could be down to something as simple as nobody should be sitting in a Duralumin tube for long periods.

Chris
Unnecessary risk and cost. Fuel delivered by air is much more expensive than fuel delivered on the ground (or by ship, for islands). Plus the added risk of collision.

And then, as you stated, the people sitting inside probably want to get out and stretch their legs.
 

AeroFranz

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You wouldn't be able to take fully advantage of IFR ops in commercial flights. You'd still have to lug around hefty reserves in case you hit bad weather or some piece of equipment broke. So the airplane gets bigger, less efficient. Even if this happens once every thousand flights, nothing pisses off customers more than unscheduled stops in the wrong continent.
 

RLBH

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IFR for commercial flights was done, on a small scale, in 1939 with four Short Empire flying boats being fitted for refuelling from modified Harrows to give them transatlantic capability - they could make it from Ireland to Newfoundland without refuelling, but only under favourable conditions. The more sensible expedient of a bigger, longer-range aircraft followed a few years later.
 

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