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How Do Airports Get Fuel?

by SharonKurheg

Most of us are familiar with how most gas stations get fuel. Big tanker trucks arrive every however often and refill the gas station’s underground tanks with regular, mid-grade, premium, and/or, depending on the station, super-premium or diesel fuel.

You can’t do that at an airport. Well, I guess you technically could, but if you figure a typical tanker truck holds between 10,000 and 15,000 gallons of fuel, and, for example, an A380 holds upwards of about 85,000 gallons of jet fuel, well, that’s a whole lot of tanker trucks. And that’d be just for one plane!


PC: Airbus

Instead, most larger airports have pipelines that connect them either directly to refineries or to refined product storage tanks that are usually supplied from refineries via their own pipelines. Others may receive their fuel by rail, and those on the coast might get their jet fuel via tanker ship or barge.

Here are the major pipelines that carry jet fuel in the U.S. (planes don’t use the same fuel that cars do. Just as a car might run on, say, Regular vs. Diesel, planes run on jet fuel, which is more pure [“refined”] than what cars run on).

Whatever the case, most airports have their own storage tanks on (or near) site to keep them in supply for several days.

Smaller airports, especially privately-owned ones, have less traffic, generally with smaller planes. Since they require less fuel than large airports, they may be able to get away with using trucks to get their jet fuel.

***Feature Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Eric Summers Jr.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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