Where and How Do Airplanes Store Their Fuel?

Airplanes are complex machinery that few fully understand. Airplanes require extremely powerful engines fueled with large quantities of gasoline to power such large, heavy objects. But where and how is fuel stored in airplanes? 

How Much Fuel Do Airplanes Burn?

Before understanding how and where fuel is located on aircraft, you may wonder exactly how much fuel is on board for a typical flight. This number, of course, depends on the size of the aircraft, weight of its cargo, airplane components, and duration of the flight. 


A Boeing 747 with a typical amount of passengers and cargo tends to burn a little over a gallon of fuel every second.1 This roughly estimates to about 3,804 gallons of fuel per hour, meaning that a Boeing 747 traveling from New York to Los Angeles, about a five-hour flight, would consume almost 20,000 gallons of fuel. 


International flights, of course, requiring longer distances, would require even more fuel. With the space needed for engines, flight crew, passengers, luggage, and cargo, where is all this fuel stored? 


Fuel Storage in Airplanes

Believe it or not, an airplane’s wings often contain a majority of the fuel the aircraft will use. Some planes also possess fuel tanks inside the aircraft’s body; however, there are several benefits to placing fuel in the wings of an airplane. 


Exactly how much does aircraft fuel weigh? Fuel is heavy. Aircraft fuel weighs about 6 pounds per gallon.2 This means that a 747 flight from New York to Los Angeles would have onboard a minimum of more than 100,000 pounds of fuel.  


Placing a majority of this weight inside an airplane’s wings is beneficial, as it sets the heaviest weight inside the source of lift for the plane. Planes rely on the air to travel around the wings to lift themselves, and this weight reduces stress on the wings. Wings additionally are generally at the center of the airplane, placing most of the weight at the center of gravity for the craft. Placing weight towards the nose or rear of the plane could cause the aircraft to tip down or up.  


Safety is the greatest concern for all airlines and aircraft and requires the coordinated efforts of flight dispatchers, engineers, crew members, and runway technicians. The amount of fuel aboard and its location is vital, along with the careful operations of all airline employees.


Entering the Airline Industry

The airline industry is full of vital, exciting roles that contribute to the safe completion of airline travel. One of these critical roles is the position of aircraft dispatcher. As the oldest aircraft dispatcher school in the country, our flight dispatcher courses prepare you for an exciting, rewarding career in the aviation industry, with room for advancement and various benefits. 


For more information regarding the role of an aircraft dispatcher, check out our piece outlining the responsibilities of an aircraft dispatcher, where we outline a dispatcher’s duties and the benefits that come with the role.


Contact us today to start working towards your aircraft dispatcher certification and licensing. 


Related Readings:

Is Electric Aviation the Future of Flying?


Things to Know Before Becoming a Commercial Airplane Pilot


Sources Used:





This entry was posted in News & Regulations. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Contact Us

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Testimonials

    “I wanted to tell you I got the job offer from Expressjet, and start next month! I think a couple others from class were hired as well. It just shows the Sheffield reputation when I see graduates from other schools complaining that they can’t get an interview – I wasn’t even back home to Minneapolis […] Dan Gustafson
    “Eric Morris is one of the most if not the most knowledgeable and experienced authorities on Aircraft Dispatching in the United States. He strives constantly to make the industry better.” DH sidebar DH
    “I am a graduate of the Sheffield’s Dispatcher Program. I have been a Captain-Part 121 Airline, Certified Flight/Grnd Instructor, and FAA Designated Check Airman and Sim Instructor (Part 121). From my experience I would rate Sheffield School as outstanding in their field.” PT PT
    “Their reputation of excellence amongst the industry is second to none. Sheffield School of Aeronautics should be seen as the standard of how it can be done and how it should be done. I was hired at a major airline with no dispatch experience.” A.Z. Sidebar AZ
    “Sheffield School of Aeronautics is a highly recognized and respected organization throughout the airline industry. They only produce the highest quality of graduate…” P.W. Sidebar PW
    “Going to Sheffield prepared me for the real world challenges of Aircraft Dispatching. I certainly believe that the method Sheffield used is one not only for success in a real world career, but also one that prepares students to correctly dispatch aircraft.” T.Z. Sidebar TZ
    “While touring my company’s dispatch department before I had my license our OCC manager pointed out that 7 of the 10 dispatchers on shift had come from Sheffield. The overall consensus was that Sheffield grads were able to hit the ground running as they were better prepared.” K.O. Sidebar K.O.
    “Being that half my new hire class dropped out over the course of training, I can confidently say that Sheffield helped to prepare me for the real world.” GT – abridged testimonial – school selection matters
    “This was an amazing class! Always interesting! It was like drinking from a fire hose, but I have never enjoyed a course more than this one. Thank you for a great 5 weeks & EWINS!” R.S. R.S. Testimonial – 5-weeks & EWINS
    “I am so glad they are like this because it made me a better dispatcher and I really appreciate their high standards. I would highly recommend Sheffield to anyone who is willing to study hard and is serious about obtaining a Dispatcher Certificate.” MC MC
    “If you want to be the best, first you need to be trained by the best!” P. Hill P.Hill – DHL
    “I entered my profession, with more knowledge and information than dispatchers who have been practicing their craft for more than ten years. Not only has Sheffield provided a top notch education, but they have also instilled in me the confidence to succeed.” A.Z. Sidebar AZ – Student Testimonial
    “After receiving my certificate, I joined a class of 4 experienced dispatchers for Part 121 initial training. Without experience, my preparation at Sheffield enabled me to become active at the same time after the initial training.” PR PR
    “My experience at Sheffield and my exposure to other aircraft dispatchers that did not go to Sheffield has resulted in an awareness of the superior depth and quality of the training provided by the Sheffield instructors.” CD Sidebar CD
    “I am a month into my new job at a airline coming out of reorganization, and am helping the training department by referencing the excellent and up to date course book provided to all Sheffield grads.” RW RW
  • Online Catalog

    Sheffield Flight Dispatch Training Catalog

  • Connect