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Five Ways to Reduce Your Fuel Costs

by David Wyndham 1. January 2008 00:00
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While aviation is booming, the overall economy is not. If "life is good" for you, this means one of two things: it won't last forever or you've missed something. If your business or pleasure flying is starting to be negatively affected, then you are already concerned. Either way, it pays to review ways to keep your costs down.

Fuel amounts to somewhere around half of your variable operating cost. Here are five things you can do to reduce or keep fuel costs down.

Fly at a reduced power setting to save fuel. In a typical twin-engine turboprop, flying a trip at Long Range Cruise Speed versus High Speed Cruise can result in over 40% decrease in specific fuel consumption with only a 25% or less decrease in speed. Plus you get to log more hours as a pilot.

Work with your local FBO to arrange for fuel discounts. When on the road, shop around for prices and take advantage of fuel discount programs when they make sense for your operation. Global Air's Airport Resource Center and Fuel Mapping tools can make comparison shopping easier. Even five cents per gallon savings will add up. However, don't sacrifice great service to save a few dollars as the hassles often are not worth it.

If you can get a good fuel price discount at home, tankering fuel is an option. Carrying extra fuel does increase your weight. And at that heavier weight, your average fuel consumption will increase. As an example, tankering an extra 1,000 pounds of fuel in a mid-size business jet will consume about 250 pounds more fuel for a three-hour trip. The extra weight costs about 4% in fuel used, so in this instance, make sure the savings are greater than 4%!

You can also save fuel on the ground. Keep your engine maintained according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Clean plugs on a piston or engine washes on a turbine are just two examples where the engine can operate more efficiently with good maintenance.

Keep your aircraft clean. It not only looks better, it reduces drag. Also, cleaning the inside eliminates dirt, saving a little weight, and also helps the cabin heat/air conditioning units work more efficiently which reduces their need for power. These last few are minor, but it all adds up.

At $6 per gallon and 60 gallons per hour, a 10% reduction in fuel use over 300 hours is $10,800 and 1,800 gallons saved. That's real money, and even better for the environment.

Are any of you planning on flying fewer hours this year due to the economy? Let me know.

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David Wyndham


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