Fuel is a necessary part of flying. It is expensive. Therefore, fuel is one of the largest variable costs of flying. That is, the more you fly, the more fuel you use, therefore, the more you spend.
As a result, many ask the question of how much does it really cost to fuel a private jet? The short answer is thousands per hour. However, as always in aviation, the actual number will vary depending on factors such as aircraft size, mission length, and atmospheric conditions.
Airplanes Use Special Fuel
Private jets don’t use the same type of fuel that you use to fill up your car or truck. Nor do they use the same type of fuel that a small piston aircraft would use.
Jet aircraft use the appropriately named Jet Fuel.
There are many reasons that airplanes use different fuel to regular gasoline. To start with, Jet Fuel has a lower freezing point than regular gasoline. This is important as private jets get high. Very high. Some aircraft fly as high as 51,000 feet. The higher you get, the colder the air.
Secondly, Jet Fuel has a higher flash point than gasoline. As a result, Jet Fuel is able to provide greater power and efficiency compared with regular gasoline.
Jet Fuel also has a lower viscosity than regular gasoline. This means that Jet Fuel isn’t as thick as regular gasoline. As a result, Jet Fuel is less likely to block pipes and easily travel through the airplane.
Finally, Jet Fuel is cheaper per regular gasoline. This is important as private jets require a large quantity of fuel. Even a 10% increase in the price of fuel can have a significant affect on the cost per hour to fly the aircraft.
Jet A & Jet A-1 Fuel
The two main types of jet Fuel. Jet A and Jet A-1. Both types produced to a standardized international specification.
Within the United States Jet A is the standard fuel type available. For the rest of the world, however, Jet A-1 is the standard fuel type available.
Thankfully, as one might suspect from the names, these fuel types are very similar. Aircraft are not restricted to either Jet A or Jet A-1. The primary difference between the Jet A and Jet A-1 is the freezing point.
Jet A-1 fuel has a lower freezing point, coming in at -47°C / −53 °F. Whereas Jet A fuel has a freezing point of −40 °C (−40 °F).
Price Per Gallon
GlobeAir provide a convenient map that details the price of Jet Fuel per region. The fuel that we are interested in for Private Jets is the Jet A fuel. 100LL is the fuel that you would use for a piston aircraft, such as a Cessna 172.
At the time of writing (Q2 2021), the average price of Jet A fuel in the United States is $4.77 per gallon. Alaska represents the most expensive region with an average Jet A price of $6.25 per gallon. The cheapest fuel price is in the center of the United States, with an average fuel price of $4.20 per gallon.
Note that the price of Jet Fuel will vary from airport to airport. Generally speaking, large international airports will have higher prices than smaller airports.
In the United Kingdom, a price of £0.6951 per Litre (excluding VAT) is the average going price (price at Oxford Airport). 1 US Gallon is equal to 3.78541. Therefore, this translates to a price of £3.16 per gallon. In USD this is $4.39 per gallon.
As you can see, prices are relatively similar in both the US and UK.
Fuel Burn Per Hour
Different aircraft burn different quantities of fuel per hour. The basic rule of thumb is that the larger the aircraft the great the fuel burn per hour.
Fuel burn per hour is measured in Gallons Per Hour (GPH). Calculate the emissions produced by private jets.
While fuel burn is different for different aircraft, we can extract some averages for the class of private jet. Keep in mind that these are just averages.
|Aircraft Class||Average Fuel Burn Per Hour (GPH)|
|Very Light Jets||110|
In the world of private jets, fuel is often measured by weight. Therefore, the maximum fuel capacity of aircraft is measure in pounds (lbs). Thankfully we can easily convert Jet Fuel from gallons to lbs with this chart. Additionally, you can use this simple formula to convert lbs of fuel into gallons.
In order to calculate the total fuel capacity of private jets we will choose a selection.
|Aircraft Type||Fuel Capacity (Pounds)||Fuel Capacity (Gallons)|
|Embraer Phenom 300E||5,353||803|
So then, what is the total cost to fuel a private jet?
Now that we have all the figures we can easily calculate the how much it costs just in fuel to fly by private jet, along with the total cost of fully filling up a private jet with fuel.
Therefore, the average cost per hour just in fuel is as follows. Note that prices are based off the GlobeAir US average price of Jet A fuel.
|Aircraft Class||Average Fuel Burn Per Hour (GPH)||Fuel Cost Per Hour ($)|
|Very Light Jets||110||$524.70|
However, if we return to the original question of how much does it really cost to fuel a private jet – we get some eye watering numbers.
If we look at the specific aircraft above, we can get a good idea of the total fuel cost if you fill them to the brim. Please note that it is highly unlikely that these aircraft are ever filled to the maximum on fuel. Again, we shall use the GlobeAir US average fuel price.
The prices to fill a private jet from zero to full is as follows.
|Aircraft Type||Fuel Capacity (Gallons)||Price from Empty to Full ($)|
|Embraer Phenom 300E||803||$3,830.31|
Therefore, the cost to fuel a private jet ranges from just over $500 per hour to nearly $2,000 per hour.
Additionally, the price to fill a private jet from zero to full can cost from around $2,000 to over $30,000.
The Gulfstream G650ER can fly a maximum distance of 7,500 Nautical Miles without needing to refuel. Therefore, the price per nautical mile in fuel for a G650ER comes in at $4.60 per Nautical Miles.