Document Information
Version 1
Created 02/28/2016 23:13
Last Updated 11/24/2020 22:39
by Skylar Hutter

Air-To-Air Refueling

Although not required knowledge to work Center position here at Seattle, imagine how much better your confidence will be when controlling all pilots that are capable of flying in this ARTCC. Isn't that what we join this hobby to do, provide our best to ALL pilots? Of course we do! And that is why this document is located here in our Seattle Document Area; giving you the knowledge you deserve to be the BEST. The private, civilian and military pilots that choose to fly in our airspace here also deserve our expertise knowledge, so let's give it to them.  The following is a brief, but interesting history of air-to-air refueling, complete with proper phraseology should you desire to show to ALL pilots why controllers at Seattle are the BEST.

Aerial refueling, also called in-flight refueling (IFR) or air-to-air refueling (AAR), is the practice of transferring fuel from one aircraft to another during flight. This allows the receiving aircraft to remain airborne longer, and to take off with a greater payload. Usually, the aircraft providing the fuel is specially designed for the task. The requirement to refuel during a flight is primarily a military requirement, and there are no known regular civilian in-flight refueling operations.

Some of the earliest experiments in aerial refueling took place in the 1920s, when it was as simple as two slow-flying aircraft flying in formation, with a hose run down from a handheld gas tank on one airplane and placed into the usual fuel filler of the other. It was a very dangerous process until 1935 when brothers Fred and Al Key demonstrated the first spill-free refueling nozzle, designed by A. D. Hunter. Nowadays, specialized tanker aircraft have equipment specially designed for the task of offloading fuel to the receiver aircraft, based on Hunter's design, even at the higher speeds modern jet aircraft typically need to remain airborne.

Air-To-Air Refueling Scenario

Tanker: Seattle Center, GASSER 21 with Air Refueling Request.

Center: GASSER 21 go-ahead with request.

Tanker: Seattle Center, GASSER 21 request to delay at the SEA 105 for 76 in the block FL240 to FL260 until 0215Z for AR355 looking for PISTL1.

Center: GASSER 21 cleared to delay at the SEA 105 for 76, unable block altitude at this time, maintain FL270; PISTL1 is 50 NM from the IP, report accepting MARSA with PISTL1.

Tanker: Roger, cleared the delay, maintain FL270, we will report accepting MARSA with PISTL1.

[Tanker talks with PISTL1 on AR Primary and confirms position and altitude (1,000 feet below tanker altitude) 15 min prior to ARCT.]

Tanker: Center, GASSER 21 will accept MARSA with PISTL1.

Center: Roger, GASSER 21 you are cleared to conduct air refueling operations along AR355 with PISTL1, maintain the block FL240 to FL260.

Tanker: Roger cleared to conduct AR along AR355 with PISTL1, maintain the block FL240 to FL260.

Center: PISTL1, you are cleared to conduct air refueling operations along AR355 with GASSER 21, maintain the block FL240 to FL260 and squawk standby 3 NM from the tanker.

Receiver: Roger cleared to AR on AR355 with GASSER 21 in the block FL240 to FL260, squawk standby 3 NM from the tanker.

[5 Minutes prior to the end of the track.]

Tanker: Seattle Center, GASSER 21 with end AR request.

Center: GASSER 21 go-ahead with your request.

Tanker: Center, after AR, PISTL1 would like to go direct PDX at FL250 and GASSER 21 would like to go direct TCM at FL230.

Center: Roger you can expect that.

Tanker: Center, GASSER 21 is at FL230 and PISTL1 is at FL250, we are finished with refueling.

Center: Roger, GASSER 21 you are cleared direct to TCM, maintain FL230 and for PISTL1, he his cleared direct PDX at FL250, have PISTL1 come up 124.200 squawking 2130.

Tanker: Roger, GASSER 21 is cleared direct to TCM at FL230 and PISTL1 is cleared direct PDX at FL250, have him come up 124.200 squawking 2130.

Receiver: Center, PISTL1 with you direct PDX level at FL250.

Center: PISTL1, radar contact, MARSA is terminated between you and GASSER 21, break, GASSER 21 MARSA is terminated between you and PISTL1

Tanker: Roger MARSA is terminated.

Receiver: Roger MARSA is terminated.

ZSE AAR Overlay

The following overlay is Seattle's Complete showing of all the Air-Refueling routes that pilots may choose to practice on; are you up to the challenge?