10 Ways to Manage Business Aviation Fuel Costs
Fuel makes the most significant percentage of aircraft operation cost, so keeping it down is of vital importance. It is a reason for celebration when petroleum sector experiences bad luck, because business aircraft owners are always looking for ways to save on jet fuel.
Modern jets and turboprops are more efficient than they used to be. Each new generation of planes is more efficient than the previous one. The industry also adds advances in aerodynamics and construction, so there is little surprise that today’s aircraft uses 30-40% less jet fuel to reach cruising speed. Despite all the innovation, fuel is still responsible for 50-66% of direct operating costs (DOC).
Fuel cost management is a top priority for all commercial and private air travel companies. Here is a list of some steps that apply to every aircraft, regardless of its size, type, and missions it is used for:
10. Clean flying
There are virtually no bugs at the altitudes most business turbine-powered planes fly, but before and after they get there, planes encounter various insects. While climbing and landing, thousands of bugs get killed and swatted on the edges of wings, windshields, and engine inlets. The looks are not as important as the disruption to airflow the carcasses of insects create. This disruption then results in drag and ultimately in increased need for fuel.
Clean plane surface means direct savings, so every company tries to maintain the surfaces spotless.
9. Home is with the fuel account
When a charter aircraft company signs the hangar lease, it usually also sets up a fuel account with the airport. There are 2 types of fuel accounts: pre-paid and fuel credit account. Most companies go with the pre-paid, because when they deposit money in advance, they receive a nice discount of fuel. The discount varies based on the price of the petroleum, but it never goes away as long as the company participates in the program.
The credit account does not offer any discount. It bills monthly at the posted price plus 2%.
The aircraft can easily reach cruising speed at Mach 0.93. But why? OEMs outline many numbers, but maximum speed and maximum range never go together.
The company might save a bit of time with maximum speed, but it will pay dearly for that, versus cruising at maximum-range speed. Financial analyst should run both scenarios and see the difference.
Pilots sometimes face rough weather conditions and choose to wait it out, inquiring extra hotel, meal, and hangar costs. That makes sense if the weather is truly bad, but sometimes it’s just headwinds. This situation can be corrected by choosing an indirect route instead of staying. The trip can go on as scheduled and the cost reduced by not facing those winds.
6. Directly direct
Many older aircraft don’t have the area-navigation tools to follow a precise IFR flight plan. The newer ones usually have it and can really take an advantage here. When the weather cooperates, IFR GPS shows the most direct route from one point to another.
Older forms of navigation are usable, but nowhere close to the precision of new generation systems.
WAAS GPS is the most common and the most affordable system for area navigation. The FAA has a 2020 deadline established for all aircraft to be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out, so updates are needed and can’t be avoided.
WAAS GPS and model S transporter enable the planes to be more compliant with the FAAs standards. More runway ends are now visible in advance and direct routing is easily achievable if the weather conditions permit. This precision helps avoid diverting and thus reduces cost of fuel.
4. Tanker your fuel
When the price of fuel goes down, consider getting and storing your fuel. You won’t always win with this approach because added weight can offset the amount of the savings, but it might just work sometimes. When it does work, the company might save hundreds of dollars at a single stop.
There are cases when an operator stops at an airport 80 miles away from the home filed just to fuel up. He saves $1.50 per gallon, so the extra expense of lift off doesn’t offset the gains, when the plane carries 135-150 gallons of jet fuel.
3. Flight planning
Some companies choose destination airports not based on convenience, but on fuel costs. It makes sense to spend time and check on fuel prices in a place with multiple airport choices for maximum savings.
Even when the cheaper fuel airport is further, it is still a financially sound decision to fly there and get cheaper fuel. $40-50 cost of extra flying time is a drop in a bucket if compared with potential savings, especially if the aircraft is large and needs hundreds of gallons of fuel.
2. Shopping for fuel online
Get on the computer to check the fuel cost around your destination and only then plan your route. FBO websites, airport websites, and fuel-vendor information are all good places to look and to compare prices. These days such work can be done anytime and anywhere on smart phones too.
1.Fuel clubs and marketing programs
It is highly recommended to use various fuel club cards and memberships, the more – the better, in fact. You will get more flexibility and have more options to receive cheaper fuel. This will enable you to choose airports not solely based on fuel price, but on convenience. You will be able to locate an airport that takes your fuel discount card with ease.
Frequent buyer programs, fuel clubs, and FBO promotions will enable you to have long-time benefits, like money in the bank.