Business Aviation Fuel: Part 1 – Supply and Delivery
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on aviation fuel supply and delivery.
While we like to assume that good quality and abundant fuel supplies will be available at most general aviation (GA) destinations worldwide this is not always the case. Prior to any international trip it’s recommended that business aircraft operators do their due diligence in confirming that fuel – Jet A or Jet A-1 – will be available at each destination. If there are any questions regarding supply or fuel quality, it’s best to make Plan B contingency plans early.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Lack of fuel availability
In the U.S. you generally have ready access to both fuel and facilities 24/7. However, smaller municipal locations in the U.S. may have limited hours of operation and limited equipment resources. At some locations you may only find Avgas, but no Jet-A. Remote international locations such as Majuro (PKMJ) are dependent on barges for their fuel deliveries and can experience shortages due to delayed shipments or fueling equipment failure. Advance planning is recommended if you are considering unfamiliar or remote locations in other countries. Your fuel provider should be in constant contact with their suppliers around the world on a daily basis and should be able to provide you with up-to-date information at any location you may be operating to.
2. Fuel shortages
There are airports that have issues ensuring a constant and sufficient supply of fuel is available. St Maarten (TNCM), where aviation fuel is barged in, runs low on fuel from time to time during peak holiday periods. Authorities may limit the fuel volume an operator may uplift in TNCM during these peak periods, while other times you may receive enough fuel to get you to another island in the Caribbean. Even after the barge has offloaded, it can take a day or two to run the required tests and make sure the fuel is on specification and ready for delivery into aircraft. Nice (LFMN) is another example where fuel supply issues can and do occur. There are regulations in France barring fuel trucks operating on roadways during weekends. If LFMN runs out of fuel on the weekend you may need to wait on the ground till the beginning of the week. Additionally, there are many smaller locations in Africa that run out of fuel from time to time due to lack of modern infrastructure, pipelines, etc.
3. Weather and fuel availability considerations
Significant weather events have the potential to knock out, or restrict, fuel supply at certain locations for a period of time. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tsunamis all have potential to cause havoc with fuel availability. When a fuel quality event occurs it can take time to correct the situation and ensure that standards and acceptable specifications are met. This may force operators to tanker in fuel or plan alternate fuel stops.
4. Fuel delivery to the airport
Aviation fuel is delivered to airports and terminals in a variety of ways. It may arrive by truck, barge, rail car, or pipeline; and, in rare cases, fuel may be flown in to a particular location. For this reason, depending on the location and method of fuel delivery, fuel costs, and lead time for fuel arrangements differ.
5. Delivery into the aircraft
Fuel trucks are the most common fuel delivery method at international locations. While single point pressure fueling is usually the norm, this is not always the case. At more remote airports in Africa, for example, you may need to fuel over-wing, and this adds time to the refueling process. A lack of single point fueling can be a concern, particularly for charter (non-scheduled commercial) operators, on max endurance flights with crew duty day issues.
6. Sources of supply
You want to be sure you’re using an established provider that’s able to supply fuel in sufficient quantity, quality, and on a consistent basis. It’s also important, particularly for more remote airports, that the local fuel storage environment is adequate and up-to-date. When ordering fuel for delivery into your storage facility, make sure that the trucking company utilizes dedicated trailers that only haul jet fuel.
It’s important to stay on top of the provider who’s making uplift arrangements for you. Fuel uplifts should always be reconfirmed prior to day of operation. If there’s any question on fuel availability, volume, or quality at a particular destination your provider should supply you with regular updates of the situation.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance with your fuel planning, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers day of operation considerations for aviation fuel supply and delivery.