Engine Fuel System Components – Main Fuel Pumps (Engine Driven)

in Engine Fuel and Fuel Metering Systems

Main fuel pumps deliver a continuous supply of fuel at the proper pressure and at all times during operation of the aircraft engine. The engine-driven fuel pump must be capable of delivering the maximum needed flow at appropriate pressure to obtain satisfactory nozzle spray and accurate fuel regulation.

These engine driven fuel pumps may be divided into two distinct system categories:


  1. Constant displacement
  2. Nonconstant displacement

Their use depends on where in the engine fuel system they are used. Generally, a nonpositive displacement (centrifugal pump) is used at the inlet of the engine-driven pump to provide positive flow to the second stage of the pump. The output of a centrifugal pump can be varied as needed and is sometimes referred to as a boost stage of the engine-driven pump.

The second or main stage of the engine-driven fuel pump for turbine engines is generally a positive displacement type of pump. The term “positive displacement” means that the gear supplies a fixed quantity of fuel to the engine for every revolution of the pump gears. Gear-type pumps have approximately straight line flow characteristics, whereas fuel requirements fluctuate with flight or ambient air conditions. Hence, a pump of adequate capacity at all engine operating conditions has excess capacity over most of the range of operation. This is the characteristic that requires the use of a pressure relief valve for bypassing excess fuel back to the inlet. A typical two-stage turbine engine driven pump is illustrated in Figure 2-60. The impeller, which is driven at a greater speed than the high pressure elements, increases the fuel pressure depending upon engine speed.

Figure 2-60. Dual element fuel pump.

Figure 2-60. Dual element fuel pump.

The fuel is discharged from the boost element (impeller) to the two high-pressure gear elements. A relief valve is incorporated in the discharge port of the pump. This valve opens at a predetermined pressure and is capable of bypassing the total fuel flow. This allows fuel in excess of that required for engine operation at the time to be recirculated. The bypass fuel is routed to the inlet side of the second stage pump. Fuel flows from the pump to the fuel metering unit or fuel control. The fuel control is often attached to the fuel pump. The fuel pump is also lubricated by the fuel passing through the pump, and it should never be turned without fuel flow supplied to the inlet of the pump. As the engine coasts down at shutdown, the fuel pump should be provided with fuel until it comes to a stop.