Global Aerial Refueling Market: Overview
Aerial refueling is mainly defined as the process of sending aviation fuel from one aircraft to another, when both are in their flight modes. The aircraft which transfers the fuel is called the tanker whereas the aircraft which gets the fuel is called the receiver. Flying boom and progue-and drogue are two main methodologies that are used to carry out the aerial refueling processes. The former process is substantially faster than the other, but needs the setup of a specific type of boom operator station.
Aerial refueling processes are highly important, especially for military aircrafts, wherein the extra fuel received can lead to aircrafts to remain airborne for a longer time. In this way, the range of the aircraft as well as its functioning capability can significantly increase. For military aircrafts, some of them could compensate with less fuel maintained while lifting off. This could be done in order to compensate the heavy weight of weapons, armor and other similar objects, by reducing the maximum takeoff weight. After being airborne, the same aircraft can receive additional fuel, thus avoiding burning excess fuel initially during liftoff, and hence conserving it. An efficient take-off roll is also possible for aircraft who start with minimum fuel and receive an extra dose after being airborne. In this way, an aircraft can receive a significant boost while taking off thus making it attain a substantial height in a short time. As per reports, potential fuel saving can be made by aerial refueling amounting up to at least 35-40%, especially for flights with longer durations.
While carrying out a probe and drogue refueling system, the aircraft in charge of receiving fuel has a retractable probe attached at a particular point near the engines. This probe makes it possible for fuel to flow through a flexible hose that usually arises out of the tanker aircraft’s back portion.
In case of a flying boom refueling scenario, the tanker aircraft is fitted with an articulated boom in a telescopic form, which is managed by a boom operator. This method is carried out after the receiver aircraft is stabilized in an appropriate position by which a smooth contact can be made. After this, the boom is steered onto the receptacle spot, thus starting the fueling process.
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The aerial refueling of an aircraft is conducted during scarcity of aviation fuel on the aircrafts during flight. This process is carried out by different procedures such as tanking, air-to-air fueling, and inflight refueling. The air refueling system is mainly done on the defense aircrafts and are being introduced in the commercial sector. The tanking system is employed heavily in both defense and commercial sectors.
The demand for air-to-air refueling is growing because it helps in takeoff with lesser payload. The defense aircrafts consists of weapons, cargo as well as personnel, in addition to this if the aircraft is fully fueled, it may hamper the aircraft to takeoff. The air-to-air refueling helps to top up the aircraft for long range flying and also to loiter. This factor is driving this aerial refueling market to a greater extend. Moreover, inflight refueling or air-to-air refueling has been considered as a means of reducing the fuel consumption for long distant flights. The reduction in fuel consumption will reduce the fuel charges which will in turn be financially beneficial for the respective airlines as well as the air forces. The air-to-air refueling is poised to fuel the market for aerial refueling market.