The bulk aviation transport tank (BATT) from Canadian-based SEI Industries Ltd. is designed to safely transport diesel, kerosene or jet fuel in the payload compartment of a fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter.
The lightweight, double-walled, storage container can carry up to 3,000 gallons, yet can be folded or rolled when empty, eliminating dead head return flights (no cargo or passengers), reducing fuel delivery costs by approximately 50 percent and maximizing cargo capacity. The system also eliminates the disposal of empty drums, often abandoned, resulting in a potential environmental hazard.
Designed to withstand high-altitude pressures, the abrasion-resistant outer tank has a built-in strapping system that serves as secondary containment and fuel-specific, baffled inner tank.
Available in several custom models, sizes range from the 476-gallon BATT-470 (43.5 inches wide by 125 inches long by 27 inches high) for a Cessna Caravan to the 3,000-gallon BATT-3000 for a C-130 Hercules (104 inches wide by 207 inches long by 44.5 inches high). Other models include tanks for An-26, An-32, Mil-17 and DC-3 aircraft. Each tank is designed specifically by aircraft type to ensure a precise fit.
Models also are available for Sikorsky S-61 and Bell 412 helicopters. When empty, tanks fold to approximately 5 percent of their filled size. The smallest tank would fit in a 3- by 4- by 1-foot duffle bag.
Paul Reichard, remote site environmental division manager for SEI, says the collapsible fuel bladder was developed for use by Columbian law enforcement. “We were working with military clients that were having problems getting fuel out to their soldiers who were policing narcotics,” he says. “They wanted a way to transport the fuel by aircraft.”
Initially, the military tried using single-walled ground storage tanks. But without baffles, the tanks would slosh in flight. Tanks also weren’t designed to fit the craft, and when less than full, would move, causing friction that would damage the shell and leak.
The bulk aviation transport tanks feature vertical baffles that prevent fuel from moving back and forth in fixed-wing craft, while added cross-baffles prevent side-to-side movement in rotary-winged craft. The baffles also enable the craft to carry less than a full load.
To eliminate abrasion and secure the tank, SEI developed a fuel-resistant polyurethane outer shell that could be secured with straps. The inner tank is made from fuel-specific polyurethane-coated nylon. Tanks are vented, removing any air, and can be pressurized. They also are pressure tested. Two fittings enable tanks to be pumped for quick loading and unloading. “We drained a 630-gallon tank that we were recently testing in seven minutes,” Reichard says. “In a 20-minute space, they drained the tank, rolled it up and prepared cargo to go out and take off again.”
Approved for use in Columbia, Peru and Canada, Reichard says SEI hopes to have Federal Aviation Administration approval for use in Alaska by the end of the year and global approval by the end of 2013. 604/946-3131; www.sei-ind.com.