The vast majority of airplanes and jets use petroleum-based fuels. Although piston engine aircraft use aviation gasoline, which is a highly-refined and very pure form of gasoline, most turbine-engine jets are powered by kerosene or a blend of kerosene and synthetic fuel that’s sometimes simply called jet fuel. JP-8, or jet propellant 8, is the fuel blend used in US military planes. Commercial airlines use Jet A and Jet A-1 fuel or Jet B, which is mostly reserved for planes that must fly in extremely cold weather or climates.


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What’s In Jet Fuel?

Most jet fuel contains kerosene and a primary constituent along with additives to enhance certain performance properties. Some jet fuels will also combine kerosene with a blend of synthetic fuels that are derived from coal and natural gas. Blended jet fuels can be more cost-effective than those that are primarily made of kerosene.

Although almost all aviation fuels are petroleum-based, new biofuels are being developed and used in cases. These jet fuels contain conventional constituents like kerosene, but they also include sustainable substances like vegetable oils to offset the cost and emissions.

What Is Airplane Biofuel?

Airplane biofuels are alternatives to conventional aviation fossil fuels. They are usually made from a sustainable source like bamboo, sugar, or sorghum, which is processed through a special biomass-to-liquid process. Some airplane biofuel also includes substances like vegetable oil. Most airplane biofuels are blended with conventional fuels to offset carbon emissions and to work around current technological requirements of most aircraft. Biofuels are likely to become more prominently used as the aviation industry pivots toward low and zero-emissions technology.

What Kind Of Fuel Does A Helicopter Use?

In most helicopters, aviation kerosene, like that used in airplanes is also used to power the turbine engines and turbofans on helicopters.  Some smaller helicopters, however, will use aviation gasoline instead of kerosine-based jet fuel.

Helicopters use this type of fuel for the same reasons why most planes and jets use it: it burns efficiently, has low viscosity, and is able to provide enough energy to reliably power aircraft for high-speed and long-distance flight.

How Much Is Airplane And Helicopter Fuel?

Airplane fuel costs and helicopter fuel costs will vary based on the specific type of fuel and market fluctuations. In late 2021, aviation fuel prices ranged from as low as $4.67 and as high as $7.87 a gallon. The cost of running an airplane or helicopter turbine will vary based on many factors. For example, a small helicopter will consume between 6 and 16 gallons an hour while a large jet, like a Boeing 747 will use a gallon of fuel per second on average.

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