Langley Airmen test new fuel delivery system

Royal Air Force Senior Craftsman Mark Butler, avionics technician, attaches Hydrant Mobile Refueling equipment to an RAF E-3 aircraft at Langley Air Force Base, March 7, 2012. Airmen at Langley are testing the new fuel delivery system that could revolutionize flightline operations, and save the Air Force millions of dollars.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kayla Newman)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) — Airmen at Langley Air Force Base, Va., are testing a new fuel delivery system that could revolutionize flightline operations and save the Air Force millions of dollars.

Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Smith, 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management superintendent, said the new Hydrant Mobile Refueler has been in development for roughly a year and a half and could be implemented throughout the Air Force in 2012.

“We’ve added a hydrant connection that we can connect to our Type 3, constant-pressure hydrant system, which will allow us to be able to pump fuel directly from the hydrant system, through the (truck), going straight to the aircraft,” Smith said.

In other words, where the R-11 fuel trucks normally pump fuel from their tanks into waiting aircraft, this modification allows the fuel truck to simply serve as a connection point and filter. The fuel stored in underground tanks will travel directly into the aircraft being serviced. One of the major hurdles this modification addresses is servicing heavy aircraft not assigned to Langley.

“When we have large-frame aircraft that come in, and they’re not parked directly on the pits where we can use the pantograph, we can bring the HYMORE truck out. This truck will be able to pump as much fuel as our system is able to push to it,” Smith said.

“We are here testing a lot of great ideas for the fuels arena. Langley has been a test base for many years, but this is the one that we are hanging our hat on,” said Smith. “Time and money is what we are really excited about with this new HYMORE, and it’s already proven itself here at Langley.”

The 633rd LRS is responsible for all the fuels disbursed on the base, whether ground products like gas or diesel, or jet fuel designated for use in Langley’s fighter jets. Fuels Management personnel receive, test and distribute fuel as needed, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Master Sergeant Joseph Eveson, 633rd LRS Fuels Management NCO in charge of facilities, said on any given day, Fuels Management services about 40 aircraft, including Langley’s fighters and any transient aircraft. He said Fuels Management has 14 R-11 fuel trucks to service the aircraft and two trucks designated to service ground vehicles.

“With a standard R-11, you can issue 6,000 gallons, and then you have to come back and fill your truck. With the HYMORE, you’re only limited to capacity of the hydrant system – up to 900,000 (gallons) here at Langley,” said Eveson.

“Langley is currently the only place that has the system attached to the trucks. They are in the process of putting them on out at Nellis Air Force Base. If all goes well at Langley and Nellis, they are going to take them out to the desert.”

Eveson said the HYMORE saves time and money, it’s easier to use and takes fewer people to set up.

“If we’re using the pantograph, you have to take the additional piece of equipment and tow it out to the flightline. You have to hook it up, drive five miles an hour to the aircraft and it takes two people to set up. Once you’re done, its takes two people to take it all apart, and drive it back to its spot,” Eveson said. “With the HYMORE, you can just send one operator with his truck out to the aircraft.”

Eveson said once the system is approved for use Air Force-wide, each base would have the option to purchase fuels hydrant service vehicles with the HYMORE modification.

“Instead of buying a new R-11, an R-12 and a pantograph, they could buy an R-11 and get the HYMORE attachment as an add-on,” Eveson said. “A pantograph costs about $130,000; an HSV costs about $200,000. The HYMORE costs about $18,000; so you’re looking at saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Eveson said another benefit of the modification is that it requires almost zero training for the refueling operators because it is such a simple piece of equipment to operate.

Senior Airman Lloyd Nau, 633rd LRS refueling operator, works out of Fuels Management section on the northern end of the flightline. He said using the trucks with the modification can save 45 minutes to an hour for every fueling operation.

“The biggest benefit would be that it stops us from having to come all the way back here to fill up our truck, and then go all the way back out to the aircraft and hook back up to it,” said Nau. “We can stay on the aircraft the entire time and refuel it.”

Smith said the Air Force would consider the HYMORE a success once it determines trucks with the modification can service aircraft at the same rate, or better, than the current equipment can. He said since 633rd LRS personnel have already done that, now it’s just a matter of working out the details.

“The next step would be to have this on the next (purchase). That’s why we are testing hot and heavy here at Langley; because we are trying to get the data and provide it to the engineers,” Smith said. “We’ve already leaned way forward on this, and it is something you are probably going to see before this year is out.”