Why is the fuel stored in the wings of the aircraft?

Why is the fuel stored in the wings of the aircraft?

Why is the fuel stored in the wings of aircraft

Where is the aircraft fuel stored?

Aviation fuel is an important aspect, as it accounts to the aircraft's performance during lift or take-off and also contributes to the additional weight of the aircraft that changes throughout the flight course of an aircraft. For these reasons, it is essential to pay attention to the storage of the fuel in the aircraft. Since history, fuels tanks have been installed in various regions of the aircraft body to attain maximum efficiency; Nose, Main body, Wings etc.

Aircraft Fuel tanks

Main reasons accounting the storage of fuel tanks in aircraft wings

  1. avoids wing failure, by preventing flutter of wings
  2. to control the position of the center of gravity
  3. increased payload capacity and safety
  4. unconventional reasons

Aircraft refueling


Aircraft wings are susceptible to flutter during the flight conditions due to various force and moments developed on the wings. Flutter is the random vibration of the aircraft wings due to the airflow over it. Flutter over larger magnitude is so dangerous that it can even result in total failure or collapse of the wing. When these wings are used as fuel tanks, the weight of the fuel helps reduce the flutterby providing rigidity to the wing.


Centre of gravity is an important factor that affects the flight dynamics and control. Incorporating the wings with fuel tanks keeps the center of gravity more or less in the desired position.
If the tanks are at the nose or tail of the aircraft, there will be a large change of momentum during the flight because of the fuel consumption.
The longitudinal center of gravity is important for an aircraft’s stability and control, and any large variation in its position is not desired for flying the aircraft.
As a method to counter this phenomenon, the fuel is first consumed from the center tank and then the wing tanks. On the other and, during refueling, the wing tanks are filled first and then the other tanks.


Putting the fuel in the Wings also means, you can put more passengers or cargo into the plane without making the plane any larger and not to mention increasing its stability.
It is much safer to store fuel on the Wings away from the fuselage where passengers are seated or the payload is stored, in case of emergencies.


Aircraft wings are meant for the factor of providing lift for the aircraft to fly. They support the entire weight of the aircraft in flight by creating what we call lift. The only factor that affects the performance and working of a wing is its outer shape. The lift causes bending stresses on the wing structure. The increase of the lift pulls the wings upwards, while the reduction of it pushes them downwards. This up and down motion can easily fatigue the wing structure and if unchecked could even cause a break up in the air.
A hollow and a solid wing will have the same characteristics i.e., same lift, and same drag at same flow velocities and angle of attack. That is why most of the Aircraft wings are made hollow, with some reinforcing structures inside the wing which is just enough to support the massive loads acting on the wings, like spars and ribs. Storing fuel in the wings reduces the stresses the wing experiences because the increase of lift would not make the wings go as high up as it did with a let’s say a hollow inside the structure. It is common practice to use up the wing fuel the last if there is fuel in the aircraft center tank or in some airplanes in the horizontal stabilizer. This way the aircraft weight is reduced by the use up of fuel and the wings have to support lesser weight when the fuel inside them is utilized. The placement of engines below the wings also helps to relieve stress.

 In general most of the wings are hollow, so it makes sense to use that space judiciously. Providing some other space for storing the fuel in the aircraft, while you already have empty space in the wings of the aircraft will make the overall aircraft much bigger and heavier, thus making it more expensive to operate and compromising its performance.

Thanks for reading!

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