Re: aerial re-fuelling

From:         Don Stokes <Don.Stokes@vuw.ac.nz>
Organization: Victoria University of Wellington
Date:         09 Jul 96 13:09:45 
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dkhodges@aol.com writes:
>A question to those who know much more than I about the airline industry:
>Why is it that aerial re-fuelling, which has gained wide acceptance as a
>military technology has not gained the same acceptance in the civiian
>sector.  It seems a reasonable way to fly longer routes with less
>expensive aircraft, and perhaps a lucrative field for a "tanking" service
>as well.

(1) Cost.  it's *expensive* to fly two aircraft when one will do.  Planes
are pretty cheap to fly once they're airborne, but getting them off the
ground and servicing them is a major part of the cost.  A tanker carries
no payload.  ("Payload" in this case being defined as "load that pays".)

(2) Safety.  Re-fuelling accidents figure pretty highly in military
in-flight aircraft loss statistics.  Commercial airliners aren't
*allowed* to get that close to another aircraft, and for good reason.

Aerial refuelling is an example of the very different priorities of
military and commercial aviation.  Military transports are intended to
provide a rapid response.  Landing and re-fuelling takes time, whereas if
you can be getting where you're going and refuelling at the same time,
you can get your resources on the ground at the destination crucial hours
ahead of when you would have got there otherwise.  Cost is much less an
issue.

--
Don Stokes, Network Manager, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
don@vuw.ac.nz(work) don@zl2tnm.gen.nz(home) +64 4 495-5052 Fax+64 4 471-5386