Flying Facts: Planes and Fuel Economy.

Photo by TeoJPG |

I love travelling and being in planes.  Part of the reason is because it never fails to impress me that something so heavy can be propelled in the air at 900km/hour at 31,000 ft. I just got back from Las Vegas, Nevada, and watching the technicians gas up the aircraft I couldn’t help but wonder just how much jet fuel it took to get this aircraft to its destination.

This article is not meant to deter anyone from flying, or say planes are horrible (jet skiing overseas anyone?)  because in some cases they are not only the only option, but after reviewing some statistics, they are actually aren’t as horrible as we think they are! Don’t believe me?....

Ok! So according to their website, a Boeing 747 (The really big one) uses about 4 litres of fuel every second. So for an international flight, say about 10 hours, it might burn 150,000 litres of fuel*. According to Boeings site, the 747 burns approximately 12 litres of fuel per kilometre.

Now I know that sounds horrible BUT consider that a 747 can carry as many as 568 people. I know that not every flight is full, but even if you say 500 people per flight, that’s only 0.024 litres per person per kilometre! To put this in perspective, the Honda Civic Hybrid holds about 4-5 people and averages 45 mpg which is 5.2L/100 km, which is 0.052 for one kilometer!

Not too bad when you consider the 747 flying 31,000 ft at 900km/h.

I know that some people still find that overwhelming and are asking "Is there anything you can do about it?"

The answer is: Absolutely!  In fact, there are three things that you can do about it.

1.) Consider your trip. Is it better to drive, train or plane? Depending on the location and length of the trip, it varies. Look at websites and be informed when you have the option.

2.) Consider the age of the plane. Some newer planes burn fuel better, more efficiently, and are better for the environment. You have the option to choose your flight, and the information for each aircraft is available on the corresponding Airlines website.  So before you book, check them out!

3.) What airline are you using? Airlines are like Car Companies. Different makes and models are more fuel efficient and some airlines are more focused on being green than others. Google the airline you are using and find out some information before you head for the clouds. 

Happy Flying!


*Does the math look wrong to you? It does not work out perfectly because the plane requires more fuel at time of takeoff, shortly after takeoff the pilot reduces the power to a climb setting, and continually reduces to a cruise as the air becomes less dense.