In the cost of operating private aircraft, jet fuel is usually the largest variable factor. For instance, as we noted in our analysis of the operating costs of the Embraer 300, fuel is the largest variable cost - $1,292 per hour. The pricing per gallon of Jet A fuel can vary significantly, as can the typical burn rate. This article delves into the variances and burn rates.
What is Jet A fuel?
Jet fuel is specifically designed for gas-turbine engine powered aircraft. There are two primary types of jet fuel - Jet A fuel (which is used in the United States and some locations in Canada) and Jet A-1 fuel (used in the rest of the world). A third type, Jet B, is rarely used. The major difference between A and A-1 is the freezing point - Jet A fuel has a higher freezing point of -40° C (compared to -47° C for A-1).
Pricing of Jet A fuel
Pricing of Jet A fuel can vary much more than automobile fuel - with prices often varying by almost 50% depending on the airport. A search through the website AirNav.com shows geographic variability, as well as variability based upon the size of the airport. GlobalAir.com is another site which shows regional averages and local pricing for fuel. Here are a few examples (please note that these figures were valid at the time of researching this article):
$8.864 Logan International Airport
$4.69 Marshfield Municipal Airport, George Harlow Field
$7.97 Los Angeles International Airport
$4.87 Van Nuys Airport, Van Nuys, CA
$8.815 O'Hare International Airport
$4.87 Bolingbrook's Clow International Airport, Bolingbrook, IL
In addition, at some airports, Jet A pricing varies by provider. For example, at Lawrence Municipal Airport in Lawrence, MA, prices currently range from $5.20-$6.35.
Burn Rates of Jet A fuel
While pricing of Jet A is a big part of the total fuel cost, the burn rate is another major factor. In general, expect that older jets will burn through more fuel than newer jets and larger jets will burn through more fuel than smaller jets. Here are some typical burn rates:
Very Light Jets
Embraer Phenom 100
Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour 125
Cessna Citation Mustang
Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour 100
Embraer Phenom 300
Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour 175
Mid Size Jet
Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour 250
Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour 372
Fuel Consumption, gallons per hour 358
As you can see there's a wide variation in pricing and burn rate, both of which will affect your costs if you are using a private jet. Whether you are chartering, using a jet card, leasing or own a fraction of a jet, always ask about fuel costs to make sure you have the full pricing picture.