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Figuring Aircraft Mileage

Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:05 pm

i was wondering about how much fuel commercial aircraft of differen't classes use per mile (in gallons would be great) thanks! also, how much is a gallon of jet fuel???
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RE: Figuring Aircraft Mileage

Fri Jan 14, 2005 2:30 pm

I cannot answer your first question...but most burn rates are gallons/hour not mile...and for your second question...that varies on location. You can look it up on choose your airport of choice and scroll down to the FBO listings and it tells you what they charge per gallon.

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RE: Figuring Aircraft Mileage

Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:34 pm

Actually most burn rates (in US) are pounds/hour. Aircraft fuel quantity system read in pounds. Engines burn fuel by the pound. The standard day conversion for fuel is 6.7 pound to the gallon.

The only numbers that have stuck in my head at this time are for the JT9D-7A engines. They idle at about 1100 lbs/hr and burn 15,000 - 17,000 lbs/hr at take-off. Can't remember max continous or cruise burns.
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RE: Figuring Aircraft Mileage

Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:51 pm

I know it's not a commercial aircraft, but a typical Cessna 172 will burn around 7.5-8 gal per hour, and in that hour depending on headwinds or tailwinds, will travel approx 90-100nm (in still air) or 105-115 miles. So that would equate to anywhere between 12.8-15.2 miles to the gallon or about equivalent to your typical SUV out there on the road.

Piston aircraft will calculate burn rate in gallons per hour, and turbine aircraft will calculate in pounds per hour.

For turbine aircraft, even though the burn rate may be 15,000-17,000 lbs/hr at takeoff, at cruise it's nowhere near that high, I guessing it will probably be around 5-6,000 lbs/hr, depending on altitude and thrust setting.
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RE: Figuring Aircraft Mileage

Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:25 am

The most common measurement for commercial is specific fuel consumption. Absent that it's NM/LB.

For example on the 744 at a typical gross weight, you'll burn about 10tons (22,000lbs/hr)at cruise doing .855M. That is about equal to about 2.4 NM/100lbs.
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RE: Figuring Aircraft Mileage

Sat Jan 15, 2005 12:38 am

Let's take my flight from ATL-SLC the other night in a 737-800. We started with about 26,000 lbs or about 3880 gals. We flew a pretty direct route and finished up with roughly 7000 lbs or about 1030 gallons. So we burned roughly 2850 gallons. ATL-SLC is 1590 statute miles according to the great circle mapper so with following airways and flying the approach at SLC I'd guess the total mileage at 1650. That equates to about .58 mpg for the entire trip. This was with 157 pax and crew on board and a 60 knot headwind all the way.

Now for comparisons sake let's figure those same people traveling by car. If we assume 5 people per car then we have 35 cars. I'm going to guess that the average vehicle in the U.S. gets about 20mpg. I have no source for this figure, it's just my WAG. If anybody has a source for this info then feel free to share it. Mapquest puts the driving distance between ATL and SLC at 1894 miles. So each vehicle will burn about 95 gallons to make the trip. Multiply that by 35 vehicles and the total fuel burn is 3325 gallons.

So there we have it 2850 gallons for a fully loaded 737-800 vs. 3325 gallons for cars to transport the same number of people the same distance. Oh, by the way flying time was 3 hrs 45mins. Mapquest estimates driving time at 28 hrs 51 mins. Pretty amazing how efficient aviation is when you look at it this way.

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