Operations are well under way at the new fuel systems test facility (FSTF), which will be used to develop fuel systems for current and future Airbus programmes. Indeed testing to explore transfer of fuel between the A380 wing tanks under gravity conditions started in December and work on the A400M and A350 is already being scheduled.
Engineers will use the new facility to study improvements in fuel modelling and look at new and emerging technologies, such as water and smart valves, working with many specialist suppliers and organisations.
The FSTF includes a special outdoor fuel test area, which accommodates the piping, systems and equipment required for large scale testing, including an area where the fuel is stored and processed. The facility can accommodate up to 78,000 litres of fuel, heat it to plus or minus 50ÂºC and simulate altitude of 50,000 ft. Importantly, it can also simulate ground refuels at rates of 6,000 litres per minute at up to 85psi, which matches fuel hydrant systems found at the worlds largest airports.
Operational features of the facility are controlled by two discrete monitoring systems: the facility monitoring and control system (FMACS) and the instrumentation monitoring and control system (IMACS). These systems ensure that all fuel, vacuum and other services can be safely delivered to the test rigs, with the option of automatic control that enables test repetition, flight altitude simulation and engine fuel demand profiles.
Filton has had fuel testing capabilities on site for some thirty years, including the existing facility, which has been operating since 1990.