Military News

Monday, May 04, 2015

Getting fueled for the mission

by Senior Airman Keenan Berry
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/1/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- When pilots prepare to take off, they know one thing above all: there's a full tank of gas. The 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron's fuel management flight takes pride in ensuring all aircraft and vehicles receive the proper fuel and required amount to fulfill the mission. This key resource enables airmen around the installation to complete their tasks and keeps Whiteman going full speed ahead.

The fuel management flight works around the clock to provide 24/7 fuel support.

"Our primary responsibilities are to put clean, dry fuel into an aircraft," said Senior Airman Joshua Gibson, 509th LRS fuels distribution technician.  "We make sure there are no contaminants and no water within the fuel."

The flight relies on filter separators to ensure no contaminants or water reach the aircraft. These filter separators are installed on all equipment and hydrant facilities that provide fuel.

"Once the fuel goes into the tank, we use the centrifugal pumps to send it where it needs to go," said Airman 1st Class Kyle Birch, 509th LRS fuels distribution technician. "The fuel goes through our filter separators where the water and contaminants are separated from the fuel. The water is heavier than fuel, causing it to sink to the bottom."

The flight also ensures cryogenics are stored within the aircraft. Cryogenics is liquid oxygen used to assist pilots in breathing while airborne.  In its cold liquid state, oxygen is below -321 degrees Fahrenheit.

The flight will receive notification from the maintenance operations control center whenever an aircraft or vehicle is in need of refueling.

The flight will take the truck out to refuel it once they receive the aircraft information. They refuel the aircraft by using the R-11 tank trucks or an R-12 hydrant servicing vehicle. The crew chief will hook the hose up to the aircraft once the truck is grounded, then the crew chief will give the good-to-go to fuel the plane.

"We use Jet A fuel for all aircraft here on base," Gibson said. "Jet A + 100 is a thermal stabilizing additive which cleans engine out to prevent carbon deposit buildup. Aircraft use the Jet A + 100 as coolant to cool down the avionics and engines to avoid overheating."

The flight relies on their Type 5 hydrant system (underground piping beneath the flightline) to pump into the hardstands where they refuel aircraft. This allows us to use hydrant trucks or the pantographs in the docks.

A pantograph is a metal pipe assembly that hooks into a pit with single point nozzles on the end of the arm to hook into the aircraft.

The technicians refuel the B-2 using pantographs. The pantographs connect to the '"moose head," also known as the hydrant coupler. The pantograph cart has two single point nozzles, one rated at 600 gallons per minute.

"When the fuel tanks reach a certain level, we have to restrict the flow to 300 gallons a minute or the pressure will damage the aircraft," Birch said. If the tank gets too full, the piping seals keeping the aircraft in tact will rupture damaging the aircraft.

The fuels distribution flight plays a significant role in the Whiteman mission. Without fuel, vehicles are rendered useless making it difficult to complete tasks.

"I like that we are an integral part of the flying mission," said Gibson. "Fuel has always been essential to the mission, and that will never change."

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