An airport's fueling system is analogous to a person's circulatory system. Fuel is the lifeblood supplied to aircraft.
An airport's fueling system is analogous to a person's circulatory system. Fuel is the lifeblood supplied to aircraft, provided throughout an airport using a fuel storage and hydrant distribution system. And critical is the pump pad, the heart of the fuel system.
Depending on the size of the airport, the pump pad can be from three to 18 pump-and-motor combinations that can go from several hundred to several thousand gallons per minute (gpm), depending on demand. The pump pad at Los Angeles International Airport, for example, is designed for up to 16,000 gpm.
The pump pad typically has a suction header that brings fuel from the fuel farm storage tanks through filtration and flow control valves. Pumps push fuel to the hydrant system around each terminal to the gate, relying upon sophisticated controls to maintain a constant pressure of up to 150 pounds per square inch (PSI).
Burns & McDonnell both designs and retrofits new pumping systems and older ones. Burns & McDonnell recently completed a design-build turnkey upgrade of the 35-year-old pump pad at Salt Lake City International Airport, adding pumps and motors driven with variable frequency drive (VFD) motor controllers. The upgrade — call it a successful quadruple bypass surgery — has reduced the system's energy costs by 30 percent, without service interruption.
Grant Smith, PG, is a director and project manager in the Aviation Group at Burns & McDonnell.