Whether you are flying by private jet charter, jet card membership, belong to a fractional ownership program or even wholly own your own aircraft, fuel stops when flying by private jet are sometimes a necessary evil to complete your mission.
In simple terms, a fuel stop is necessary when the destination is further away than the aircraft’s capable range.
Therefore, if a fuel stop is planned for your next mission, here is everything that you need to know. From the length of time, it takes to refuel, to whether you can stay on board or not. Additionally, it is important to consider the circumstances in which a fuel stop will be worth it.
How Long Does it Take to Refuel a Private Jet?
As you would expect, there is no one answer to the length of time it takes to refuel a private jet.
However, a general rule of thumb is to expect a fuel stop of 30 – 60 minutes.
Although this time cannot simply be added to the non-stop flight time. This 30 to 60-minute fuel stop is the time that the aircraft is on the ramp (also known as an apron).
Therefore, it is important to factor in the time it takes to deviate from the original route, the time to descend, land, and taxi to the stand. After refueling it is important to consider the time it then takes to taxi to the runway, take-off, climb, and then continue along the original route.
As a result, the actual time that a fuel stop will add to your journey will likely add closer to two hours to your overall travel time.
Factors Affecting Duration of Fuel Stops
So, why is there no exact figure as to how long a private jet fuel stop actually takes?
Well, as is almost always the case with private jets, not all aircraft are created equal and each mission is unique.
Different aircraft have different sized fuel tanks. Therefore, if the tank is larger it will be able to hold more fuel so will take longer to fill up.
Additionally, the rate of speed at which the fuel goes into an aircraft will also differ. This then has to be combined with the fact that different fuel equipment will be able to move the fuel at different speeds.
Moreover, at each airport, you are at the hands of the fuel operator. Some are more efficient than others. Some are more organized than others.
If the airport is busy with other aircraft being refueled then you will have to wait your turn as there are a finite number of trucks.
And finally, one of the most significant factors affecting the duration of private jet fuel stops, how many gallons of fuel are required? Aircraft aren’t always fuelled up to maximum capacity.
Therefore, if you are just 100 miles from your final destination, only a few hundred gallons of fuel will be required. However, if you are halfway through your mission and have a few thousand miles left, then much more fuel will be required. The more fuel you need, the longer it takes.
When Are Fuel Stops Needed?
Essentially when the total flight distance exceeds that of the aircraft.
So, for example, say you want to fly from London to Bangkok, a distance of nearly 6,000 miles (5,200 nautical miles). There are only a select group of aircraft that can complete this mission.
Therefore, if you own a Gulfstream G200, a fuel stop will be required as it has a maximum range of just under 3,400 nautical miles.
As a result, it will be necessary to stop at some point along the way. It is physically incapable of flying 2,000 nautical miles over its maximum range without stopping.
Are Private Jet Fuel Stops Worth It?
Ultimately, a fuel stop being worth it or not comes down to your situation.
If you own a private jet that is unable to complete the mission non-stop, then it may make sense to include a fuel stop. The aircraft is your own. You already have the fixed costs, so the variable costs of the route will be less than chartering.
Additionally, there are some routes around the world that, no matter what, a fuel stop will be required. For example, you will need to stop for fuel when flying by private jet from London to Sydney.
However, the primary reason that some travelers may see a fuel stop as worth it is the price. Yes, you are still paying for the aircraft while on the ground being refueled, however, you can charter a smaller aircraft that has a lower cost per hour.
For example, private jet charter prices flying non-stop from London to Bangkok are in the £130,000 – £150,000 ballpark. However, add in a fuel stop and prices are around the £100,000 mark.
Do Passengers Stay Onboard During Refuelling?
Rules around passengers staying onboard during a fuel stop or not come down to the refueling company.
However, it is generally recommended that passengers do disembark during refueling.
Of course, it is important to consider whether you are flying domestically or internationally. If flying internationally then it will be necessary to clear customs in order to leave the airport.
In some cases, this can be convenient if the refueling takes place in the destination country. Therefore, passengers will be able to maximize their efficiency by clearing customs during refueling. Then when arriving at the final destination, passengers can instantly leave.
Do Crew Members Stay Onboard During Refuelling?
For crew, it is required that at least one pilot remains onboard. Typically, this will be the first office (co-pilot) remaining onboard.
There are circumstances when a fuel stop is necessary during a private jet mission. This is generally true when flying to the other side of the world.
However, the primary function of private jets is to save time. Therefore, adding in a fuel stop will massively delay any flight. It is therefore hard to see situations in which chartering an aircraft that requires a fuel stop makes sense.
The only real benefit that comes from a fuel stop when flying by private jet will be a minor reduction in cost. However, adding in a fuel stop will not always decrease cost.