Design & Development of a Helicopter Auxiliary Fuel System

Design & Development of a Helicopter Auxiliary Fuel System

Rob Hardman

WEC were engaged to provide fluid mechanical and electrical expertise for the design & development of an auxiliary fuel system for a military helicopter. The manufacturer sought to extend the range of the aircraft in response to an “Urgent Operational Requirement” and required a rapid, certificatable solution.


The project

Two WEC senior engineers were added to the client’s Design Organisational Approval (DOA) as independent Compliance Verification Engineer’s (CVEs) for this project covering fluid mechanical and electrical specialisms.

Using a fuel tank design which was already qualified for use on another helicopter, our team developed a multi-tank auxiliary fuel system concept using up to three tanks integrated into the existing fuel system of the aircraft. The system concept was then presented to the client.

To enable us to extend the range of the aircraft in accordance with the system concept:

  • Our engineers worked autonomously to source appropriate equipment and to identify the applicable qualification and certification compliance evidence.
  • We regularly liaised with the clients’ structural installation group and the Office of Airworthiness, providing regular status updates via weekly meetings either face to face or via telecon.
  • Our team was responsible for authoring all applicable design documents covering the entire ‘V’-cycle, from Aircraft/System Level Requirements to Equipment Qualification and System Certification dossiers.
  • We developed several bespoke mathematical models to perform transfer system performance analysis and to assess Centre of Gravity effects.
  • We provided contributions to the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) for the associated Flight Manual Supplement.
  • As requested by our client, we prepared and presented the Systems Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and Critical Design Review (CDR) to their customer and its team of independent advisors.
Drawings overhead
Graduate at computer screen

The benefit

The range of the helicopter was extended in accordance with the manufacturers requirements by the addition of the auxiliary fuel system.

The solution was successfully ground tested by our engineers and subsequently flight tested by the clients’ flight test team. The system was certificated 15 months after project launch, enabling clients to meet the ‘Urgent Operational Requirement’.

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