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Old 13th Aug 2010, 08:45
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: FL 600. West of Mongolia
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Hi Stilton, that is a question that we all used to ask ourselves; not having an APU was a major pain in the butt for the fleet, particularly at charter destinations, where air start trucks, GPU's and air conditioning trucks would all have to be pre-arranged.
One problem with 'Conc' was always one of weight, (for every extra pound you carried, another pound of fuel was required) so any APU installation would have to have been light, and worth the extra weight. But the main problem was one of 'where to put the darned thing. The only suitable space available for an APU was in the tailcone, aft of the tail wheel. Now a ready supply of fuel would have been available either from the aft trim tank, #11, or from one of the two trim galleries. (For stability reasons, tank 11 was invariably left empty during ground transits). The real crunch however, was how to arrange pneumatic services from an APU: Tank 11 was directly forward of the tailcone, so this would have meant either ducting the pneumatics THROUGH the fuel tank (not a particularly good idea ) or externally around the fuselage, which would have been 'draggy' to say the least.
You could still have had an APU powering hydraulics, and in essence electrics too (the emergency generator was powered from the Green System), but without pneumatics for engine starting and air conditioning, it would really have been a waste of weight. Still, it really is a shame that there was no APU.
Historically, there were 'sort of' aux power units fitted to development aircraft: The prototypes had two GTS's (Gas Turbine Starters), one in each nacelle pair, that could start the engines without an air start truck, but these never saw the light of day in later aircraft. The most unusual unit of all was the MEPU (Monogol Emergency Power Unit), located in the tail cone. This was manufactured by Sundstrand, and was fitted to all of the development aircraft. (A derivation of a unit fitted to the X-15!!). The idea was that if you had a four-engined flameout at Mach 2, this thing would fire up, power Green and Yellow hydraulics (plus the emergency generator, again from the Green system), and give you power and control down to a safe relight altitude. The MEPU was powered by Hydrazine rocket fuel (unbelievably unstable) and I seem to remember that the thing would run for about 8 minutes. There was no way that this monstrosity would ever be acceptable on a commercial aircraft, and so a conventional RAT was developed by Dowty for the production aircraft. (Also, the windmilling engines would give you full electrics down to Mach 1.1, and Hydraulics down to about Mach 0.7, so the thing had little practical use when supersonic anyway).
I hope this extended blurb helps answer your query Stilton.
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