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How Big Are Airplane Fuel Tanks?

One of the most intriguing things about an aircraft is how large the fuel tanks can be. Of course, not all airplanes have the same size tanks as large passenger planes will have much larger fuel tanks than smaller planes. 

Airplanes that travel on long-haul flights that can last for several hours need huge fuel tanks that carry a very large quantity of fuel. 

If you have been on a commercial flight, you may have wondered about the size of a fuel tank and how much fuel is carried on board.

Keep reading to learn about airplane fuel tank sizes with specific aircraft examples.  

Qatar jet airplane

How Big Are Airplane Fuel Tanks?

As mentioned, airplane fuel tanks can vary in size. There are many types of aircraft around the world and each type can have different sized fuel tanks.

Most passenger aircraft used on commercial flights will have very large fuel tanks that can hold up to 6,875 gallons of fuel. The Boeing 737-800 aircraft is an example. 

Widebody aircraft like the 777-200 can hold up to 31,000 gallons of fuel. 

The fuel tanks on smaller private aircraft or training aircraft for private pilots have much smaller fuel tanks. Normally they will hold around 50 gallons of fuel. 

Boeing 737-800
Boeing 737-800

Passenger aircraft – fuel tank size

Not only do fuel tanks on passenger aircraft vary in size from plane to plane, but the amount of fuel they will hold will vary as well.

The larger the fuel tank, the more fuel it will hold. 

Here are a few examples of fuel tank sizes on passenger airplanes.

  • Boeing 737-800 – 6,875 gallons
  • Boeing 777-200 – 31,000 gallons
  • Boeing 747-800 – 63,034 gallons
  • Airbus A320 – 7,190 gallons
  • Airbus A380 – 85,472 gallons
  • Citation X – 1,926 gallons
  • Learjet 60 XR – 1,163 gallons

The world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov AN – 225, holds a whopping 98,656 gallons of fuel. 

Antonov AN-225
Antonov AN-225

How large are the fuel tanks on a small private airplane?

Similar to commercial passenger airplanes, the size of a fuel tank on a smaller private plane can vary. Although the difference in size and capacity is not as drastic as it is with larger planes. 

Here are a few examples of fuel tank sizes on small private airplanes.

  • Cessna 172 – 50 gallons
  • Cessna 150 – 26 gallons
  • Cessna 182 – 87 gallons
  • Cessna 206 – 65 gallons
  • Cherokee 140 – 50 gallons
cessna 172

Aircraft fuel tank size table

  • fuel weight calculated @ 6 lbs/gal for avgas and 6.8 lbs/gal for Jet A1
AircraftFuel Capacity Gallons Fuel Capacity Liters Fuel Weight Pounds
Boeing 737-8006,8752602446,750
Boeing 777-20031,000117347210,800
Boeing 747-80063,034238609428,631
Airbus A3207,1902721748,892
Airbus A38085,472323546581,209
Citation X1,926729013,096
Learjet 60 XR1,16344027,908
Cessna 17250189300
Cessna 1502698156
Cessna 18287329522
Cessna 20665246390
Cherokee 14050189300

Where are the fuel tanks located on an airplane?

Although not always the case, most fuel tanks are located in the wings of an airplane. All commercial aircraft and passenger jets carry fuel in tanks placed inside the wings.

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Each wing will normally have 1 fuel tank in each wing but they can also have more than one depending on the aircraft type. 

Even the small smaller single-engine private airplanes like the ones mentioned above have fuel tanks located in each wing. 

airplane being refueled

How much fuel does an airplane burn?

There are many factors that determine how much fuel an airplane will burn. This includes the aircraft weight, engine type, altitude, weather conditions, and more. 

The rate of fuel burn per hour or GPH will vary between aircraft types.

It’s crucial for all aircraft to specify the fuel burn which can be calculated in seconds, minutes, and hours.

Here are some examples of how much fuel an aircraft will burn.

  • Boeing 737-800 – 850 gallons per hour
  • Boeing 777-200 – 2200 gallons per hour
  • Boeing 747-800 – 3000 gallons per hour
  • Airbus A320 – 900 gallons per hour
  • Airbus A380 – 4100 gallons per hour
  • Citation X – 347 gallons per hour
  • Learjet 60 XR – 204 gallons per hour
  • Cessna 172 – 8.5 gallons per hour
  • Cessna 206 – 17 gallons per hour 

How much does it cost to fuel an aircraft?

Depending on your location, time of year, and type of fuel being used, the cost to fuel an airplane will vary. Not all fuel types cost the same. 

Larger commercial aircraft use jet fuel while smaller private planes will use avgas. 

On average, the cost of avgas 100 LL for small piston aircraft costs $4.75 per gallon. This can vary anywhere from $3-$10 but most airplane refueling stations charge just under $5 per gallon.

Using the Cessna 172 as an example, it would cost around $250 to fill 50 gallons. 

With an average fuel burn of 8.5 gallons per hour, the Cessna 172 will cost around $30 per hour to operate.

On average, the cost of jet fuel for a large jet aircraft costs around $4.50 per gallon. This can vary anywhere from $2-$9 but most airplane refueling stations charge close to $4.50 per gallon.

Jet fuel is sometimes cheaper than avgas but with fuel costs changing all the time, it’s difficult to put an exact cost. 

Using the Boeing 747-800 as an example, it would cost around $283,653 to fill 63,034 gallons. 

With an average fuel burn of 3000 gallons per hour, the Boeing 747-800 will cost around $13,500 per hour to operate.

fueling small airplane

Facts about airplane fuel tanks

Here are some interesting facts about airplane fuel tanks. 

  • There are 3 types of fuel tanks – integral, rigid, bladder
  • Fuel tanks on commercial airliners are refueled from under the wing
  • All airplane fuel tanks are vented or pressurized
  • It takes around 45 minutes to refuel the tanks on a Boeing 747 aircraft
  • It can cost almost half a million dollars to fuel the largest airplane in the world
How Big Are Airplane Fuel Tanks?

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