Which fuel is used in Aeroplanes?
- Author :
- TATA AIG Team
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From the roaring engines of jumbo jets to the sleek turbines of private planes, the world of aviation is a marvel of modern engineering. Have you ever wondered what fuels these incredible machines that carry us across continents?
Aeroplanes ignite fuel within their engine's combustion chambers to create the necessary thrust. Unlike cars, bikes, trucks, and other types of vehicles, aeroplanes particularly rely on a distinct type of fuel that is tailored to optimise their overall performance and efficiency.
So, fasten your seatbelt, and let's take off into the fascinating realm of aeroplane power and learn more about the type of fuel that is the backbone of the aviation industry.
An Overview of Aeroplane Fuel
Apart from piston-driven aircraft, most aeroplanes are powered by kerosene-based fuels. The widely used formula in the aeroplane fuel name category is Jet A-1, also known as JP-1A. This variant is the go-to choice for most jet-engine aeroplanes.
Comprising mainly of kerosene with a minor addition of preservative additives, Jet A-1 safeguards jet engines against potential damage.
It's crucial to understand that aviation fuels fall into two primary categories: AVGAS and jet fuels. AVGAS is designed for internal combustion piston engines, whereas jet fuels are tailored for turbine engines.
Now, let's get into the details of each type of fuel used in flight.
The type of fuel used in aeroplane prioritise safety over sheer power. Given that most of these aircraft are single-engine, flawless performance throughout the flight is imperative.
Hence, AVGAS fuels boast remarkable efficiency, as they offer substantial energy output relative to their minimal weight, resulting in minimal waste.
The two primary variants of AVGAS stand out as: AVGAS 100 and AVGAS 100LL, denoting their octane ratings.
These fuels exhibit distinct characteristics:
Tetraethyl Lead Content:
AVGAS 100 boasts a higher lead content. In contrast, AVGAS 100LL contains lower amounts of tetraethyl lead.
AVGAS 100LL is distinguishable by its artificial blue hue. Meanwhile, AVGAS 100 is recognised by its green tint.
The Jet Fuel used in aircraft powers turbine engines, predominantly found in commercial aircraft. The prevailing subtype is Jet-A1, also known as paraffin. This fuel stands out for its exceptional efficiency, delivering robust power while keeping fuel consumption in check.
There are two different types of Jet Fuel: Jet A and Jet A1, both used in aircraft with turbine engines.
They can be used interchangeably.
Here are the key differences between the two:
Jet A1 freezes at -47°C, while Jet A freezes at -40°C. Also, Jet A1's lower freezing point makes it better for long international flights, especially those over polar routes.
Jet A1 typically contains additives called static dissipaters. These help reduce static charges caused by the movement of jet fuel. On the contrary, Jet A, in comparison, does not have static dissipater additives.
Jet A is mainly used in the US. And Jet A1 is the universal choice and is used in the rest of the world.
How Much Fuel is Usually Consumed in Aeroplanes?
An airplane's fuel usage hinges on several factors like, aircraft type, flight distance, weather, and payload.
Generally, large commercial flights burn about 11.4 to 18.9 litres of fuel per kilometre. For instance, a Boeing 747 can gulp down up to 3.78 litres of fuel per second. So, on a 10-hour flight, it might use around 136,850 litres.
Yet, smaller planes like regional jets and turboprops are more fuel-efficient. For instance, a Bombardier CRJ700 consumes roughly 7.57 litres of fuel per kilometre. On a 1-hour flight, it might use about 757 litres.
The flight's distance is a key player in fuel consumption; longer journeys demand more fuel, while shorter ones need less.
Weather matters, too. Strong winds and turbulence usually increase fuel usage, while calmer weather conditions can reduce it.
Finally, the weight of the aircraft influences fuel consumption. A heavier plane requires more fuel to cover the same distance as a lighter one.
Why Petrol is Not Used in Aeroplanes
If you were thinking if gasoline is used in aeroplanes or not, the answer is a no! Petrol, commonly used in automobiles, isn't the fuel of choice for aeroplanes due to several critical factors.
Differing Needs of Engines
Aircraft engines, particularly those in commercial jets, are designed to operate on a specific type of fuel known as aviation gasoline or avgas. This specialised fuel is tailored to meet the unique demands of aviation engines, ensuring they perform optimally at high altitudes and varying atmospheric conditions.
Lower Octane Rating
Octane rating measures a fuel's resistance to "knocking" or premature combustion. Aviation gasoline, Like AVGAS, with a higher-octane rating, prevents engine knocking more effectively, a crucial safety feature for aircraft engines.
Impurities & Additives
Petrol contains certain impurities and additives that are unsuitable for aviation engines. These impurities can lead to carbon deposits and other engine issues over time, potentially compromising safety and efficiency during flight.
Aviation gasoline, on the other hand, is specially formulated with minimal impurities, ensuring a cleaner burn and prolonged engine life.
At high altitudes, where aeroplanes frequently operate, temperatures can plummet. Petrol has a significantly higher freezing point than AVGAS, making it ill-suited for use in aircraft. Using petrol in extreme cold could result in engine complications or even failure.
Higher Flash Point
In the context of fuels, a higher flash point is a desirable property. It means that the fuel is less likely to ignite accidentally, which is crucial for safety, especially in environments where there may be potential sources of ignition.
In aviation, fuels with higher flash points, like AVGAS, are preferred because they reduce the risk of accidental ignition during handling, storage, and refuelling operations.
In contrast, substances with low flash points, like gasoline (petrol), are more volatile and can ignite at lower temperatures.
Current Price of Aviation Fuel in India
Aviation fuel is currently priced at ₹1.12 lakh per kilo litre (KL) in Delhi, marking the highest cost since December 2022. The steady ascent in aviation fuel prices over recent months can be attributed to various factors, including the escalating cost of crude oil and the depreciation of the Indian rupee.
The soaring cost of aviation fuel poses a significant hurdle for the Indian aviation sector. With airlines allocating approximately 40% of their operational expenses to fuel, the escalating prices are putting pressure on their profitability. This, in turn, may translate to increased ticket fares for passengers.
Here is a table of the current price of aviation fuel in some major Indian cities:
|Price Per Kilo Litre (KL)
[Note: The prices may be subject to change]
The Environmental Impact of Different Fuels
The choices we make regarding transportation fuels hold a profound impact on our environment. Each type of fuel, be it for cars or aeroplanes, comes with its own ecological footprint, influencing the overall well-being of our planet.
Consider the ubiquitous automobile, reliant on gasoline or diesel for propulsion. These types of fuels, while predominant, have a significant environmental cost. They release carbon dioxide (CO2) and various other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and air pollution.
This is where the concept of a 'carbon footprint' comes into play – a measure of the total greenhouse gases emitted due to human activities, including fuel consumption.
Transitioning to a more sustainable approach is imperative. One pivotal step lies in embracing fuel-efficient cars. These vehicles optimise their energy usage, consuming less fuel for the same distance travelled.
This not only translates to fewer emissions but also reduces our dependency on fossil fuels. It's a tangible way to mitigate our impact on the environment.
By considering a fuel-efficient car, you will take a commendable step towards environmental protection. To safeguard your cherished vehicle on the road, securing a robust car insurance policy is imperative.
Meanwhile, advancements in aviation fuel tech have delivered eco-friendly alternatives like biofuels derived from renewable sources, which are meant to slash air travel's carbon footprint.
Embracing sustainability not only impacts our cars but also influences the aircraft that take us through the continents. It's a collective effort towards a greener, better and healthier future for all.
To Sum it Up
From jet fuels designed for high altitudes to avgas tailored for piston engines, each plays a vital role in propelling aircraft across the skies. Beyond the skies, our choices in transportation fuel also impact our planet. Opting for sustainable options not only reduces our environmental footprint but can also lead to financial benefits.
Also, for your fuel-efficient car, do not forget to compare car insurance online to pick the right one for yourself. For the right four-wheeler insurance, Tata AIG emerges as a standout choice, providing extensive coverage tailored for eco-conscious vehicle owners.
When you buy car insurance with us, you are not only safeguarding your vehicle but also contributing to a more environmentally conscious and secure future.
Disclaimer / TnC
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