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Do Airliners 'tanker' Fuel?  
User currently offlineChrisNH From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 4080 posts, RR: 2
Posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 5026 times:

Over on my Manchester Airport Yahoo Group we are discussing a couple of the morning United departures to Chicago...one a 733 and the other a 757. Apparently the cost of fuel is quite a bit less expensive at MHT than at ORD, and an observer noted that much more fuel was loaded aboard at MHT than a flight like that would otherwise need (wx was apparently good the whole way). They apparently needed 16,000 pounds and asked for almost 29,000. Price of the fuel was $2.58 @ ORD versus $1.91 at MHT. Is this a common practice, and is there a risk of the plane landing 'too heavy' at ORD with all that tankered fuel?

Chris in NH

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 5000 times:

Tankering for fuel cost differential has been around for ages, and has increasingly become more important as the price of fuel has increased in recent years.

Our flight planning computer takes projected load info, as well as payload weights, and fuel prices, and suggests tankering when cost effective, and also how much to tanker (based on the aircraft's subsequent planned flights, and their payloads, etc.). Obviously, if we have a full aircraft, there's only so much one can tanker, and on short, landing weight-limited flights, there might not be room for any tanker fuel, but we do so when we can, since every little bit helps.

Last fall, in the aftermath of Katrina/Rita when the supplies in the central US were squeezed due to pipelines being out, the prices at midwest points such as MDW and STL were such that it still made economic sense to tanker in fuel in from SEA. I counted up the savings on one shift, and they ran about $7,000.


User currently offlineSlimChance From United States of America, joined May 2006, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4977 times:

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. When I drive to Corpus Christi from San Antonio, I try to have just enough to get me there, because I know I can fill up in Corpus for $.30 less per gallon. Another thing is; these airlines know what they're doing. They're not going to overload a plane. Besides, if they were going to be burning 15-19k lbs in the air, I don't think they could be above landing weight when they got there. I guess the only risk would be if they had an issue in the early part of the flight and had to divert somewhere close.

User currently offlineGQfluffy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4955 times:

GQ did this all the time to our EAS cities. They'd leave BIL during the evening back with topped off tanks, and when they'd come back the next morning after the RON, they'd only have a few hundred pounds left on board.

User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 4902 times:

Quoting SlimChance (Reply 2):
I don't think they could be above landing weight when they got there.

I didn't specificly mention this, but that's another variable the the flight planning computer looks at, i.e. not exceeding the max landing weight.

About the only disadvantage to tankering fuel that readily comes to mind is that, sometimes, the aircraft that has the 10,000-15,000 lbs. of tanker fuel loaded on it has to cancel for mechanical reasons. The replacement aircraft that gets assigned will also be loaded to that same fuel load (reflecting the tanker fuel), but then you have that original aircraft sitting there with all that fuel. Once it gets repaired and is back in-service, it may then be too heavy to operate the flight the equipment folks want it on. If they don't have the option of assigning it to a really long flight (that would take, at least, the amount of fuel already onboard), it'll then be necessary to de-fuel the aircraft down to the amount needed to operate the new flight without being overweight.

[Edited 2006-09-22 22:36:34]

User currently offlineSv2008 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2006, 622 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4829 times:

Landing weight aside, doesn't all that extra fuel increase fuel consumption due to the extra weight?

That would maybe make the cost difference not so great.

[Edited 2006-09-22 23:01:02]

User currently offlineOPNLguy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 4805 times:

Quoting Sv2008 (Reply 5):
Landing weight aside, doesn't all that extra fuel increase fuel consumption due to the extra weight?

That would maybe make the cost difference not so great.

True, and they're just two more variables that the computer looks at in order to make the tanker/do not tanker suggestion.

There some other variables that the computer doesn't consider, but the dispatcher does, like runway conditions, certain MEL items inop, etc.


User currently offlineFI642 From Monaco, joined Mar 2005, 1079 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4458 times:

I've seen a DC-10 tanker 150,000lb of fuel. Cost is one reason.
Another is when an aircraft goes into a U.S. Military base, there
is no concurrent fueling. If the aircraft is fueled, it cuts down on
ground time and saves money by fueling at a less expensive airport.



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User currently offlineFlyDeltaJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 1831 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4454 times:
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SY always topps off at JFK b/c this is according to the pilot the fuel is cheaper here than at MSP.


The only valid opinions are those based in facts
User currently offlineZeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 8841 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 4428 times:

Quoting ChrisNH (Thread starter):
Is this a common practice, and is there a risk of the plane landing 'too heavy' at ORD with all that tankered fuel?

Tankering does happen for a number of reasons, it could be as your suggesting for cheaper fuel, can be due Wx, or can be due political reasons, e.g. if a country just happened to go into a military coup one would not be surprised to see a directive that you have to carry either return fuel or an out of country alternate.

Can also tanker fuel if for some reason the quality of the fuel is brought into question, this may be as simple as a formality in the paperwork.

The FCOM will have a graph in it giving you the fuel tankering savings that can be achieved.

Carriage of extra fuel costs fuel, it is common for flight plans to reflect the fuel cost for each extra tonne of mass.

At no time would one land over max landing weight due to fuel takering under normal operations.



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User currently offlineFlightopsguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 348 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 4406 times:

Variables such as cost of additional fuel burned, wear and tear on airframe/engines and of course weight restrictions are all taken into account when tankering. Tankering can save $$$ every day. Most airlines will have a fuel manager who figures all this out.


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User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 3971 posts, RR: 34
Reply 11, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4330 times:

One problem of tankering fuel is that the aircraft lands with the wing tanks full of cold fuel. With an air temp below 10degC and moisture in the air this will lead to ice forming on the wings, which will need deicing, which would not have happened if the fuel had not been tankered. Another cost aspect to the equation.
Our fuel planning system used to suggest fuel tankering into ARN for a very marginal saving. It was about a total of 50 UKL. If this needed deicing this cost us around 600 UKL.
We dont tanker here much nowadays.


User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8182 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4314 times:

You're getting jet-A for $1.91?!  Confused

It's running $5.34 a gallon at CLE.



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User currently offlineShowerOfSparks From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4304 times:

Quoting TristarSteve (Reply 11):
One problem of tankering fuel is that the aircraft lands with the wing tanks full of cold fuel. With an air temp below 10degC and moisture in the air this will lead to ice forming on the wings, which will need deicing, which would not have happened if the fuel had not been tankered. Another cost aspect to the equation.

If you arrive with the wings full of cold fuel and need to add more fuel first transfer the cold fuel from the wings to the center tank so you will be adding (warmer) fuel into the wings. This will often be sufficient to remove any frost which has formed on the wings.


User currently offlineSNATH From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3238 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4304 times:

Wasn't it the case that the Soviet planes (TUs / ILs) had pretty large fuel tanks to avoid fuelling outside USSR, whenever possible?

Tony



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User currently offlineGoldenshield From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 5961 posts, RR: 14
Reply 15, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 4266 times:

Quoting N766UA (Reply 12):
You're getting jet-A for $1.91?!

It's running $5.34 a gallon at CLE.

Airlines have contracts with fueling companies and buy in bulk.

Quoting ShowerOfSparks (Reply 13):
If you arrive with the wings full of cold fuel and need to add more fuel first transfer the cold fuel from the wings to the center tank so you will be adding (warmer) fuel into the wings. This will often be sufficient to remove any frost which has formed on the wings.

This is why some aircraft have optional heater blankets for the wings. Granted, it's not 100% effective, but it does the job.



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User currently offlinePmurr From Fiji, joined Mar 2005, 36 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 3867 times:

Air Pacific tanker fuel from Australian ports all the time. Am unsure whether they do same from NZ.

User currently offlineTWAL1011727 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 622 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 3300 times:

Quoting N766UA (Reply 12):
You're getting jet-A for $1.91?!

It's running $5.34 a gallon at CLE.

The $5.34/gallon price is at the local FBO... yes?

DL pays $2.02/gallon in MLB and $1.91 in ATL
Airlines(as already stated) buy their fuel in bulk and usually at hedged prices.
No airline could survive at $5.34/gallon very long...not even WN.

Quoting Goldenshield (Reply 15):
This is why some aircraft have optional heater blankets for the wings. Granted, it's not 100% effective, but it does the job.

Heater blankets are only for tail mounted engine A/C (MD80s.)
The MD80s had a notorious ice shedding problem so they had heater blankets installed. These blankets were only installed on the wing root (close to the fuselage) not on the rest of the wings.
The other solution was to burn fuel from the wings first...then the center. That way when the A/C was refueled, the "warm" fuel added mixed with the cold fuel and hopefuly melted any wing root ice.

There have been several MD80s that have lost engines(A/C too!) because of ice shedding.

KD


User currently offlineNonfirm From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 434 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 3221 times:

We are starting to tanker fuel fuel now on flts from sea.The company told us it was cheaper for them to tanker the fuel then refuel at some stations.We also can stop the tanker if during the cold weather season we have to de ice the 737 to much. airplane 

User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 3971 posts, RR: 34
Reply 19, posted (7 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 2977 times:

Quoting TWAL1011727 (Reply 17):
The other solution was to burn fuel from the wings first...then the center

This is not allowed in most airliners. You must use the wing fuel last. This is for structural purposes.

Quoting ShowerOfSparks (Reply 13):
If you arrive with the wings full of cold fuel and need to add more fuel first transfer the cold fuel from the wings to the center tank so you will be adding (warmer) fuel into the wings

Dont usually have time for this on a 40 min turnround!. Ittakes time to set up. Steps up to the refuel panel, then into the flight deck and put on the pumps and X-feed valves, then the bowser arrives. Not very practical.

Quoting Nonfirm (Reply 18):
We also can stop the tanker if during the cold weather season we have to de ice the 737

I found that a B734 arriving with 4000kg on board does not grow ice on the upper wing. Come in with 5000kg and it does. This only works om a B737 due to the design of the collector tanks. MD80 are the worst, they always produce ice.


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