TheSonntag
Topic Author
Posts: 4378
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:23 pm

What is the range-limiting factor of air refuelled airplanes

Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:41 pm

With air refueling, airplanes like the AF1, the B-52s and even smaller planes like F-16s are able to operate much longer than planned.

While for small planes, crew exhaustion is a decisive factor, a plane like the B747 could have 3 shifts of crew onboard that allow continuous use. food, water and even the toilets are certainly available for a Long time, especially when the AF 1 is operating with a limited amount of People on board. So at least some days seem totally possible.

So I wonder what is the decisive factor limiting the total flight time? I would guess that once in a while, oil loss of the engines would require replenishment and inspection, which cannot be done in flight.

But what is the total realistic flight time in such a case? And what will fail first and require a landing, despite fuel?
 
angad84
Posts: 1908
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:04 pm

Re: What is the range-limiting factor of air refuelled airplanes

Wed Aug 09, 2017 3:28 pm

Depending on aircraft size/role/tasking/configuration it can be a variety of things. The two I've heard most often are lubrication and fatigue.
 
User avatar
Stitch
Posts: 24257
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:26 am

Re: What is the range-limiting factor of air refuelled airplanes

Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:30 pm

TheSonntag wrote:
But what is the total realistic flight time in such a case? And what will fail first and require a landing, despite fuel?


The E-4B is designed to remain airborne for a full week before engine lubricant consumption requires landing.
 
bigjku
Posts: 892
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:51 pm

Re: What is the range-limiting factor of air refuelled airplanes

Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:39 pm

Stitch wrote:
TheSonntag wrote:
But what is the total realistic flight time in such a case? And what will fail first and require a landing, despite fuel?


The E-4B is designed to remain airborne for a full week before engine lubricant consumption requires landing.


You are more likely to be limited by consumables depending on what exactly you load up. Water, food ect all have a limited shelf life. You can certainly carry plenty depending on circumstances but I have no clue how much is loaded routinely.

I would guess in a crisis situation they load long-term stuff. On a day to day basis that stuff may or may not be on board.

In practical terms the US is a large country with many airfields. If you are in a situation where it's unsafe to land for a week I do wonder if you can cycle the necessary tankers to avoid doing it. They have to have somewhere to go and get fuel and in most circumstances it would make more sense to simply land there and refuel and reprovision the aircraft itself.
 
User avatar
neutrino
Posts: 1205
Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 5:33 pm

Re: What is the range-limiting factor of air refuelled airplanes

Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:16 am

Alright, slightly related to the topic of endurance with IFR, I have this to share.

A little bit of trivia: Most airplane geeks would have known that the Rutan Voyager holds the record for longest unrefueled manned flight at over 216 hours. However, the absolute record of an air vehicle, manned or unmanned, flying continuously without landing is proudly held by the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. The endurance flight of almost 65 days straddling two calendar years occurred from December 1958 to February 1959. In-flight refueling and provisions resupplies were not air-to-air but ground-to-air via a speed-matching truck along straight stretches of desert roads, twice daily.
Link to the story: http://www.countyairports.org/History/H ... light.html

Now, let's see if they can get a truck to synchronize with the AF1 747 along a really l-----o-----n-----g s-----t-----r-----e-----t-----c-----h of flatland and do a ground-to-air inflight refueling & restocking. :duck:
Potestatem obscuri lateris nescitis

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos