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How Much Does It Cost to Fill Up a Small Airplane with Fuel for a Flight?

written by: Vin Reyes•edited by: Jason C. Chavis•updated: 1/31/2011

How much does it cost to fill up an airplane with fuel? Learn how it works in the same way that you compute the fuel efficiency of a sedan.

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    Aircraft Fuel Consumption

    image courtesy of How much does it cost to fill up an airplane with fuel? Calculating the cost to fill up an airplane with fuel is similar to that of a car and would only require a few math skills to come up with an accurate answer. Similar to driving a car, the fuel cost will depend on a lot of factors such as distance, speed, weight, aerodynamic drag and how the driver applies the throttle. The fuel efficiency will then depend on the previously mentioned factors.

    Maintenance will also plays a crucial part in determining how much it costs to fill up an airplane as a properly maintained airplane will yield the best possible fuel consumption figures.

    Small aircraft like the popular Cessna 150/152 and the Piper Arrow Tomahawk are considered the most fuel efficient in their class and are ideally used for flight training sessions. Student pilots need an aircraft that is light, fuel efficient and easy to handle both in the air and on the ground. Tuition for flight training sessions are relatively expensive and using a fuel efficient aircraft will help keep the costs down especially in this day and age of astronomical fuel prices.

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    Cost to Fill Up a Small Airplane with Fuel

    image courtesy of If you want to know how much it costs to fill up a small airplane with fuel then the simple computation is stated below. Let's use the Cessna 152 as basis for the computation.

    The Cessna 152 has a useable fuel capacity of 142 liters (37.5 gallons) and a total fuel capacity of 147 liters (38.8 gallons.) The average cost of aviation fuel is around $5.50 per gallon. Multiply the useable fuel capacity of 37.5 gallons to the price of $5.50 and you get $206.25.

    The average fuel consumption of the Cessna 152 is 25 liters per hour, or around 7 gallons per hour at an average cruising speed of 110 MPH. The fuel cost of $206.25 wil give you a range of 589.28 miles (37.5 gallons divided by 7 then multiplied by 110 MPH.) Not bad for a small aircraft.

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    Aircraft Maintenance

    Fuel costs are only a small part of the total maintenance requirements. Similar to owning a car, oil changes and engine tune ups are fairly common on all types of aircraft. The TBO or Time Before Overhaul should be strictly followed on all types of airplane engines to prevent engine failure and seizure during operation. Remember that a stalled engine on an aircraft is presumably more dramatic (and possibly more horrendous) than when you are driving a car down the road.

    Filling up a small airplane is expensive when compared to filling up a car. But take into consideration the speed and the straight line that aircraft follow when flying through the air then you would expect to arrive at your destination at more than half the time it takes for you to drive the same route--not to mention the thrill of being in the company of the open sky. How much does it cost to fill up an airplane with fuel? Now you should understand.

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    Resources and Image Credits


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