Weight and Balance Equipment – Hydrometer

in Aircraft Weight and Balance

When an aircraft is weighed with full fuel in the tanks, the weight of the fuel must be accounted for by mathematically subtracting it from the scale readings. To subtract it, its weight, arm, and moment must be known. Although the standard weight for aviation gasoline is 6.0 lb/gal and jet fuel is 6.7 lb/gal, these values are not exact for all conditions. On a hot day versus a cold day, these values can vary dramatically. On a hot summer day in the state of Florida, aviation gasoline checked with a hydrometer typically weighs between 5.85 and 5.9 lb/gal. If 100 gallons of fuel were involved in a calculation, using the actual weight versus the standard weight would make a difference of 10 to 15 lb.

When an aircraft is weighed with fuel in the tanks, the weight of fuel per gallon should be checked with a hydrometer. A hydrometer consists of a weighted glass tube which is sealed, with a graduated set of markings on the side of the tube. The graduated markings and their corresponding number values represent units of pounds per gallon. When placed in a flask with fuel in it, the glass tube floats at a level dependent on the density of the fuel. Where the fuel intersects the markings on the side of the tube indicates the pounds per gallon.