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How Much Fuel the Aeroplane Needs?

aero plane fuel

Have you ever wondered what is the airplane fuel used in? From a small jet plane to a big airbus, aero planes need aviation fuel to operate.

We will analyze the way pilots estimate how much fuel they need for their flight. Imagine that the aero plane has to fly from Warsaw to Vilnius while choosing the airport in Riga as an alternate airport.

Let’s analyze the situation by types of fuel the aircraft needs to successfully complete the flight, Aero plane fuel is divided into:

  • TRIP


First of all, trip fuel is needed to take off, climb, cruise, descend, approach and land. In brief, it is the fuel needed to fly from point A to B.


Secondly, contingency fuel is needed in case the weather or wind changes and the aero plane has to navigate around or the air controller does not give the permission to fly into the requested flight level and has to stay in the lower level which leads to consume more fuel.

Contingency fuel has to makeup either 5% of the trip fuel or a minimum of 5 extra minutes which is mandatory by law.


Now imagine that while approaching the airport we are rejected from landing on the runway as another aero plane is blocking the way due to technical issues.

That means the aero plane will have to go around without being able to land at our destination and that is the moment when we need alternate fuel to land at an alternate airport which we have chosen during our briefing.


While approaching Riga airport, we get information that we cannot land either as runway inspection cars have just broken down.

As we have used up all the trip fuel, contingency fuel, and alternate fuel, we are left with final reserve fuel the amount of which is regulated by law and must make up a minimum of 30 minutes’ flying time and 1500 feet over the airport holding speed.

The time of those 30 minutes is needed to clear the runway and we will be the first for approach as we have declared fuel emergency as soon as we started using the final reserve fuel.


Pilots also have an option of adding extra fuel for situations when aircraft would be holding or doing long transitions as the flight might be affected by either the pilots’ unfamiliarity with a particular airport or its rush hours.


Last but not least, we need taxi fuel which gets us from the gate position to the runway, fuels the auxiliary power unit for air conditioning and starting the engine.

Also, we can add even more taxi fuel, especially during winter, when the plane needs de-icing which extends our consumption of taxi fuel.

Typical Airplane Fuel Capacities

Here are some of the world’s most popular commercial aircraft and their maximum fuel capacity.

Not all of these aircraft will be able to run with full fuel and maximum cargo. Fuel is the variable that pilots can use to keep the aircraft under its maximum gross takeoff weight:

Aircraft Fuel Capacity
US Gallons
Fuel Capacity
Fuel Weight
Fuel Weight
Antanov AN-225 98,656 375,000 300,000 661,400
Airbus A380 85,472 323,546 253,983 559,937
Boeing 747-8 63,034 238,610 190,888 422,327
Boeing 777-200LR 47,890 181,283 145,538 320,863
Airbus A350-1000 41,948 158,791 124,651 274,808
Boeing 787-10 ‘Dreamliner’ 33,384 126,372 101,456 223,673
BAC Concorde 31,483 119,600 95,680 210,940
Airbus A320 7,190 27,200 21,760 48,173
Boeing 737 Max 6,853 25,940 20,752 45,915
Airbus A300 ‘Beluga’ 6,303 23,860 19,088 42,230
Dassault Falcon 6X 5,042 19,156 15,325 33,786
Gulfstream G500 4,514 17,151 13,721 30,250
Embraer CRJ1000 2,902 7,057 8,822 19,450
Bombardier Q400 1,724 6,526 5,220 11,550
Cessna Citation V 861 3,272 2,618 5,771
Beechcraft 1900D 665 2,527 2,022 4,458

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