Airports are busy places, and planes don’t sit for long before they move on to their next destination. Besides cleaning and loading checked baggage, one of the main things is fueling the aircraft. Many travelers often wonder how much fuel do planes use and how long it takes to refuel a plane. Planes can use around one gallon of fuel every second, so refueling can take a long time, according to former flight staff.
Refueling an airplane is a complex process that depends on the type and size of the aircraft. Smaller planes holding a few thousand gallons need less time. Large planes like the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 take longer to fuel, using two hoses to reduce ground time.
Most often, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes to refuel a jumbo jet with several thousand liters per minute of aviation fuel to fill the tanks. The fuel is pumped into the wings and fuselage tanks through fuel hoses connected to a hydrant or fuel truck.
The type of fuel is also essential, with most commercial aircraft using Jet A and Jet A-1 kerosene fuel. Overall, refueling is a significant part of airport operations, where airplanes fill with enough fuel to stay in the air. In our guide, you can learn more about the speed at which an aircraft can be refueled. By the end, you’ll see it takes much longer than refueling a car, yet it doesn’t take too long, which it will delay your aircraft flying at the right time. (Read Do Airplanes Have Windshield Wipers)
Understanding Fuel Trucks and Plane Refueling
For a plane to refuel, the time it takes will depend on several important factors. In flying, the time it takes to refuel depends on the size of the plane and, how much fuel it has, as well as the fuel tank capacity. A small private jet might only need 15 minutes to refuel, but a big business plane might need up to an hour.
The type of fuel, how well the fuel pump works, and how skilled the people who are refueling are all significant. Air BP is in charge of making sure that planes get fuel in more than one country. Note: If you hear planes dump fuel, this is rare and often only done in emergencies.
How Long Does It Take Refueling Time
During your travels, you may have observed that planes don’t refuel and immediately take off. Instead, there’s a critical period called the ‘turnaround time,’ which involves unloading and reloading various aircraft components.
The duration of this turnaround time can vary based on the aircraft’s size and other factors about airline operations. Ground time typically encompasses refueling and restocking catering supplies, cleaning, and conducting maintenance checks.
Refueling is performed using low-rising fuel trucks and usually takes 15 to 20 minutes. The turnaround process can range from 25 minutes for short-haul flights to two hours for long-haul flights. This aspect of airline operations is of utmost importance, requiring precision and efficiency.
Midair Refueling Explained
While you’re amazed by the quick turnaround time on the ground, another fascinating aspect of refueling occurs in the sky: midair refueling. Midair refueling transfers fuel from one aircraft to another while they’re both flying. A dedicated tanker aircraft is typically used, and a specialized nozzle connects the two planes, enabling fuel transfer during the flight.
Midair refueling requires precise coordination and skilled piloting, showcasing the impressive ingenuity of humans in aviation. It offers a sense of freedom unmatched in aviation; however, it is used for the Air Force rather than commercial flights. Commercial pilots lack the training required for air refueling. (Read Can You Dip On A Plane)
Facts About Flight Duration
After enjoying the spectacle of a plane’s wash and refueling, you’re probably curious about the flight duration and what happens during those long hours in the sky.
Flight duration depends on several factors, including aircraft use, fuel consumption, and fuel capacity. For instance, a Boeing 747 burns about five gallons of fuel per mile, and with its fuel capacity of 48,445 gallons, it can stay airborne for around 16 hours.
However, miscellaneous facts about flight duration reveal that modern aircraft like the Airbus A350-1000 can achieve flights that last up to 20 hours. These long-haul flights result from technological advancements in fuel efficiency and capacity.
Time It Takes to Refuel Different Planes
Those long trips may have made you wonder how long it takes for different planes to refuel. Factors like the aircraft’s size, type, and fuel transfer rate can affect how long it takes to refuel. Small planes like the Cessna 172, however, need 30 to 45 minutes to refuel fully, while bigger commercial planes like the Airbus A380 need about an hour.
Private jets, like the Dassault Falcon 6X, usually have an average refueling time of 15 to 20 minutes. Military jets like the F-16 can be fully refueled in just 10 minutes. Thus, the refueling process for each plane varies and is tailored depending on the size of each aircraft.
Finally, refueling a sizeable commercial jet like a Boeing 747 is a complex process that takes 1-2 hours. Much of it depends on factors like the fuel load, the speed of the fuel pumps, and the need to transfer extra fuel.
Most airliners have a range of 5,000-8,000 miles before needing to refuel, but their fuel tanks and refueling systems are designed for quick turnarounds at airports.
Large planes have multiple tanks holding tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel, which is pumped in at a rate of 300-400 gallons per minute from airport refueling vehicles.
Pilots must calculate fuel needs based on the flight plan, passenger and cargo load, weather, etc.
While in-flight refueling from tanker aircraft is possible, it is usually reserved for military purposes. Keeping airliners fueled is a logistically demanding task, but airport refueling crews and technologies make it possible for today’s huge jets to operate routes worldwide. (Read Can You Bring Rogaine On A Plane)
How long does it take to fuel a plane?
The time it takes to refuel a plane can vary depending on several factors, like the type of aircraft, the amount of fuel required, and the speed at which the aircraft is refueled. On average, it takes about 20 minutes to refuel a commercial airliner like a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A320.
How much fuel does a plane need?
The amount of fuel required by a plane depends on its size, the distance it needs to travel, and other operational factors. Fuel loads on planes can range from a few thousand liters or gallons in smaller aircraft with smaller fuel tanks. Then you have tens of thousands of liters or gallons for wide-body aircraft like the Boeing 747 or the Boeing 777.
Can planes be refueled with two hoses?
Some large commercial aircraft are refueled with two hoses simultaneously, allowing for faster refueling times. This is common for larger aircraft with multiple fuel tanks where time is of the essence.
How is jet fuel supplied to planes?
Jet fuel, commonly known as Jet A or Jet A-1, is typically stored in fuel farms located near airports. From there, it is pumped through fueling trucks or hydrant systems to the aircraft. The fuel is then delivered to the aircraft’s fuel tanks through specialized fueling hoses and nozzles. (Read Can You Bring A Scale On A Plane)
Are there any limitations or considerations when refueling a plane?
When refueling an aircraft, it is crucial to consider factors like the type of aircraft, its fuel capacity, and any specific refueling procedures recommended by the manufacturer. Excess fuel may also need to be dumped in certain situations, like when an aircraft needs to reduce its weight for landing. Fuel costs affect airline profits, yet they do not affect how much fuel to pump into a plane.