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Drop Tanks Delayed My Aircraft TakeOff - A True Life Story

The external jettisonable fuel tanks are called drop tanks, because they can be dropped off from the aircraft by the pilot, by flicking a jettison switch fitted in the cockpit, in case of any emergency in flight necessitating weight reduction of aircraft. Even if during the take off there is some emergency like an engine fire, the drop tank is jettissoned on the runway, to reduce the fire hazard.

The drop tank fuel gets consumed first. This is by design, so that you will jettison an empty drop tank without any fuel in it and the drop tank will not explode like a bomb on hitting ground, where people may be living. During takeoff the drop tanks are full and this causes and increase in aircraft weight and even the aircraft center of gravity to shifts, thus causing a slight resistance to lift the nose up whilst the pilot tries to takeoff from a runway.

I too experienced a delay in takeoff of my aircraft due to the drop tanks. I had two drop tanks fitted one each under the left and the right wings fully loaded with fuel. Being a pilot under training still learning to fly the aircraft and that too flying all alone in the aircraft cockpit there was a little bit of apprehension in my mind why I was not able to takeoff the aircraft at the same place I usually see the aircraft takeoff.

Drop Tanks Delay TakeOff And Speed Of Aircraft

Normally, we don't jettison the drop tanks. We land back with the drop tanks still on the aircraft. Drop tanks are costly aircraft part. Only in emergency or during war does a pilot jettison the drop tank to accelerate the aircraft to catch an enemy aircraft and shoot it down.

At times when the enemy aircraft is trying to shoot you down from behind, the pilot will jettison drop tank to increase speed and improve the aircraft maneuverability to escape from enemy aircraft. After the drop tanks go empty, the fuel in the main tank starts being used in the engine. There are two wing tanks, one fitted inside each wing of the aircraft.

Once the main tank fuel reaches a certain preset level the wing tanks start feeding fuel into the main fuel tank. The engine always gets fuel from the main tank. The pilot has two indications to confirm that wing tanks have started feeding fuel.

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