A short while ago I was asked, in passing, if the ‘petrol’ used by aeroplanes is all the same.
The answer to this is ‘no’. It is not.
And so we move on.
The subject this time is BAF and LAF.
You want to know, don’t you? I can tell.
BAF = Big Aeroplane Fuel
LAF = Little Aeroplane Fuel
Way, way back in the early days before even I was born—yes, yes, there was such a time, all aeroplanes used LAF.
Then, just after the Second World War, little aeroplanes used BAF until the de Havilland Comet was invented. Aaaah! De Havilland! A thing of grace and beauty that swung effortlessly into the air assisted by angels and four de Havilland Ghost engines on the 27th July, 1949. BOAC started services with the Comet 1 in May, 1952.
Note: the Boeing 707 was not invented until 1955.
Up until the Comet and the 707 (720, according to United Airlines) all big aeroplanes used LAF. Most little aeroplanes were now using BAF
These little aeroplanes were Hawker Hunters, Supermarine Swifts, Fairey Gannets and the like.
Some mid-sized aeroplanes like Vickers Viscounts, F27 Friendships and Dart Heralds were also using BAF.
In the sixties and seventies a swarm of big aeroplanes took over commercial flying that were equipped with magical engines called ‘gas turbines’—jet engines, that were more powerful, more economical, more reliable, quieter (inside the aeroplane) and smoother than the old piston engines.
Suddenly the world had changed. Suddenly the world could afford to fly. The airways as the province of the wealthy and famous was gone.
There are still some hangovers from those days. To cross large bodies of water you still need to have more than two engines—that led to the development of a host of three-engined aircraft like the Lockheed Tristar, BAe Trident, Douglas DC10.
Big aeroplanes now use BAF and little aeroplanes use LAF except that there are still some preserved, old aeroplanes that are big and use LAF and, of course, there are a few little aeroplanes that use BAF.
There will always be delusions if grandeur amongst the smaller ones!
Now we shall look at what BAF and LAF is.