Preflight Worries Over Fuel System

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The GlobalFlyer flew around the world last year and ran into trouble when fuel was vented overboard. The system was redesigned to prevent that problem this time, but the reworked system had not been tested with a full fuel load until this week. A planned takeoff on Tuesday morning was scratched when the new vents began leaking under the pressure of 18,000 pounds of fuel. "One of the new vent systems that has been added in the boom tank is where the problem occurred ... one of the vent lines that penetrate the tank has a leak and this was discovered when fuel started leaking out of the wheel well," said Jon Karkow of Scaled Composites. Fossett has said that the trip's success is not assured. "I'm not confident of success because of what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to fly the airplane to its full capability of distance and I'm stretching the limits of the airplane. We calculate that I will be able to complete the flight and have a success, but it will be very close," he said. Karkow has estimated that there should be around 500 pounds of fuel left when Steve reaches England, but added: "If Steve was to run out of fuel he could glide for 200 miles from that point."