The premise is that in the future civil Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) will become an economic necessity if popular mass air travel is to continue. What is attempted is to provide a contemporary view of how such future operations could be safely undertaken. The intention is to predict the certification basis for demonstrating safe AAR operation of Cruiser-Feeder concepts. The necessary systems and aircraft functions are treated very much as they are today when civil certifying a large aeroplane type. The compliance demonstration required for environmental conditions, flight envelope, systems providing the necessary functionality, structural integrity, weight and balance are discussed.
Applicable existing civil certification requirements are identified and where necessary expanded in scope to accommodate AAR operation. Where contemporary material does not supply appropriate guidance then corresponding safety criteria are proposed to address the deficiency. Lessons learnt from military AAR include the drive for interoperability. This has resulted in extensive efforts to standardise equipment and systems, which are equally applicable to civil AAR. Extremely useful advisory material exists, ranging from flight testing techniques to related safety.
The importance of ensuring the consistency of failure condition categorisation at system and aircraft level is highlighted. The treatment of failures when two aircraft are in close proximity is something not considered by civil functional hazard analysis. The concept of AAR as an additional flight phase is introduced and affected system safety analyses identified. Examples of failure conditions that are not catastrophic at system level, but potentially could be at aircraft level during AAR are provided. Rendezvous scenarios are described to illustrate their influence on the certification basis. Combining such considerations with the factors that influence aircraft design leads to ramifications for handling qualities, performance and fuel system design. A viable and certifiable AAR configuration is consequently proposed. Consideration is given to treating operational certification in a progressive manner similar to existing LROPS (Long Range Operations).