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Commercial flight, 60 MPG per passenger.
Old 01-30-2012, 06:51 PM   #1
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Commercial flight, 60 MPG per passenger.

The article, reader mail really, is about taxes, for funding Air traffic Control by taxing passengers.

There is a gem of information in it, an eye opener. If one disregards the MPG cost of getting to and from the airport, commercial flights give roughly 60 mpg fuel efficiency per passenger. At least according to the writer.

AVweb The World's Premier Independent Aviation News Resource

The story is about 1 1/2 page down in the left column headed:Letter of the Week: The Case for Fuel Taxes.

Fifth paragraph:
"It turns out that, when measured by passenger-mile, most airplanes get about the same mileage, about 60 passenger-miles per gallon. Now, there is a range, but it's not six passenger-miles per gallon, and it's not six hundred passenger-miles per gallon, either and it tracks reasonably close for a 737 or a Citation."


Few cars can boast that performance in MPG at aviation's or any ground speed.


I will not travel via commercial aircraft, the hassle factor is just not worth it for me. I would have never guessed the 60 passenger mile per gallon.


Can't say that I am for the proposed direct tax to passengers, but it is food for thought.


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Old 01-30-2012, 07:03 PM   #2
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Few cars can boast that performance in MPG at aviation's or any ground speed.
You're assuming there's only one passenger. A 30 MPG sedan with 4 people in it is getting 120 passenger miles per gallon. ;-)
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
T

Few cars can boast that performance in MPG at aviation's or any ground speed.


I will not travel via commercial aircraft, the hassle factor is just not worth it for me. I would have never guessed the 60 passenger mile per gallon.


Most of the info I've seen on aviation energy efficiency put the number in mid to upper 40s. (It varies by carriers, with long haul carrier with new planes doing better.) I suspect a 767 or 777 close to fully loaded probably does get 60 passenger MPG.

However, it is important to make an apples to apples comparison. I suspect that for pleasure trips a typical journey involves 2 people, so with a 30 MPG (highway) compact car that is equal to 60 passenger MPG. 4 people in midsize car is close to 100 passenger MPG, and a family of 6 in a gas guzzling Minivan is probably closet to 120 passenger MPG. It wasn't uncommon for me to drive 25 mile to San Francisco to car a flight to LA and than equally long trip by car to my final destination, that easily decrease passenger mileage by 10-15%.

The bottom line is that planes are reasonably efficient (and very safe) way of moving individuals, not particular great for families or even couples.
I also don't think there is a huge opportunity for making planes a lot more fuel efficient, certainly not as efficient as electric cars.
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:28 PM   #4
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I wonder what mpg I'd get with aviation fuel in my echo.
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:31 PM   #5
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I wonder what mpg I'd get with aviation fuel in my echo.
Zero - unless you figure out how to convert it to run on kerosene.
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Old 01-30-2012, 08:27 PM   #6
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Shouldn't the airplane fuel efficiency be penalized for the fuel used by the passengers with the time they save? I mean, when 4 people are stuck in a car driving across the US for three days, that's about all the fuel they are using. But if they fly the same distance in 5 hours, they get 2 1/2 days of their life back to turn on lights, drive cars, turn on the furnace in their homes, run their computers, or maybe even get in another airplane and go someplace else--burning fuel.
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Old 01-30-2012, 08:41 PM   #7
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Zero - unless you figure out how to convert it to run on kerosene.
Al has a laptop that runs on kerosene.
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:31 PM   #8
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Maybe T-Al was thinking of high-octane avgas, not kerosene, for his Echo. Turbocharge that baby, so it will lay down rubber :-)
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:08 PM   #9
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I was just pointing out that maybe the mpg comparison isn't totally valid since the fuels are different. I don't know much about these fuels.
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:18 PM   #10
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Good point. Kerosene jet fuel has about 10% more BTUs than gasoline.
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:48 AM   #11
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Quick back of the envelope calculation for the A320:

Burns (at cruise) 6000 lbs/hr or 895 gal/hr and will travel 550 miles/hr

550 miles/895 gal = .6145 miles per gal

.6145 x 148 passengers = 91 mpg

Of course takeoff and climb burn is significantly higher offset somewhat by an idle power descent to landing. Goal is to stay at idle power from the top of descent to a 5 mile final; ie basically a glider for the last 100 miles of your trip...just like Sully!
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:48 AM   #12
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Good point. Kerosene jet fuel has about 10% more BTUs than gasoline.
But gasoline also takes more processing (which requires energy), one reason it's more expensive.
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:31 AM   #13
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Quick back of the envelope calculation for the A320:

Burns (at cruise) 6000 lbs/hr or 895 gal/hr and will travel 550 miles/hr

550 miles/895 gal = .6145 miles per gal

.6145 x 148 passengers = 91 mpg
My car gets about 32 MPG on the highway with 4 people in it. Using the same methodology, my car gets 128 MPG?

Now this is skewed in reality because commercial jet aircraft are usually 90% to 100% full where as a typical auto is driven solo at least half the time (if not almost all the time). But in reality we'd have to multiply the figures for an A320 and my car (91 MPG and 128 MPG respectively) by the average actual passenger load as a percentage of capacity (or use the average number of people in it instead of the capacity). Then the A320's 91 MPG probably becomes 85, and my car becomes (maybe) 50.
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:22 AM   #14
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And then there's trains & EV's...
Attached Images
File Type: png transit-mpg.png (122.0 KB, 17 views)
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:15 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
I wonder what mpg I'd get with aviation fuel in my echo.
Higher octane won't improve mileage, unless engine was designed for high performance. OTOH I don't think you want to rush down to the nearest airport for Aviation Gas. Which is 100 octane.

Long ago weekend fliers would go for a run to get a $100.- Hamburger, guess now it is the $400.- Hamburger at the next scenic airport cafe.

Local prices around Eugene Oregon.

100LL Avgas prices within 65 miles of KEUG


Airport / FBO 100LL $4.76$6.34
average $5.54
KEUG Mahlon Sweet Field Airport Eugene, OR Atlantic Aviation SS
$5.42 FS
$6.34
20-Jan
update 77S
15 SE Hobby Field Airport Creswell, OR Creswell Airport ExxonMobil SS
$5.40
22-Nov-2011
update 61S
21 SSE Cottage Grove State Airport Cottage Grove, OR Oregon Department of Aviation (self-serve fuel)
SS
$5.40
01-Sep-2011
update KCVO
23 N Corvallis Municipal Airport Corvallis, OR Corvallis Aero Service Air BP SS
$5.65 FS
$5.99
26-Jan
update S30
27 NNE Lebanon State Airport Lebanon, OR LebanAir Aviation independent SS
$5.15
GUARANTEED S12
31 NNE Albany Municipal Airport Albany, OR City of Albany Air BP SS
$4.76
28-Jan
update 7S5
45 N Independence State Airport Independence, OR Nutsch Aviation SS
$5.29
22-Oct-2011
update



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Old 01-31-2012, 11:17 AM   #16
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As someone who has just started flying lessons I don't like the talk of added user fees. It really puts a damper on flying cost. One thought is a flat rate fee, like $100 for every flight. Now I can afford the $5.00 gas and the 7-10 gal/hr fuel rate. But throw in another $100 for a 50 mile trip and my thoughts of buying a plane just go out the window. And GA pretty much is a thing of the past.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:35 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
My car gets about 32 MPG on the highway with 4 people in it. Using the same methodology, my car gets 128 MPG?

Now this is skewed in reality because commercial jet aircraft are usually 90% to 100% full where as a typical auto is driven solo at least half the time (if not almost all the time).*** But in reality we'd have to multiply the figures for an A320 and my car (91 MPG and 128 MPG respectively) by the average actual passenger load as a percentage of capacity (or use the average number of people in it instead of the capacity). Then the A320's 91 MPG probably becomes 85, and my car becomes (maybe) 50.
*** not sure where the data comes from, but the chart I posted claims the average occupancy of private autos is 1.57 peeps FWIW, and it seems to compare modes of transportation using actual occupancy (clearly much higher for most if not all mass transit).
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