Fueling a plane is an essential part of the pre-flight checklist. It ensures that the aircraft has enough fuel to reach the intended destination safely. But, have you ever wondered how long it takes to refuel a plane? In this article, we will discuss the factors that affect refueling time, the refueling process, and the average time it takes to refuel different types of planes.

Factors that Affect Refueling Time

Several factors can affect the time it takes to refuel a plane. These include:

Size of the Plane

The size of the aircraft is a key factor in determining refueling time, as larger planes require more fuel to fill up. For instance, a commercial jumbo jet such as the Boeing 747 may take longer to refuel than a smaller regional aircraft like a Cessna 172.

Volume of Fuel Needed

The amount of fuel required by an aircraft for each flight is determined based on its size, type, and distance to be traveled. The larger the amount of fuel needed, the longer it will take to refuel.

Refueling Equipment Used

Refueling equipment used can also affect refueling time. For example, larger planes require equipment that can pump fuel at a faster rate, which may increase the speed of the refueling process.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions such as wind, rain, and snow can also affect refueling time. Refueling may be delayed in the event of adverse weather, leading to longer waiting times for passengers.

How Long Does It Take To Refuel A Plane?

Refueling Process

The refueling process involves several steps that need to be followed to ensure that the fuel is transferred safely and efficiently. Below is a step-by-step description of the refueling process:

  1. Positioning the Aircraft: The aircraft is positioned in a designated refueling area or at a gate where the fuel tanker can easily access it.

  2. Connecting the Fuel Hose: The refueling truck is positioned next to the aircraft, and the fuel hose is connected to the refueling port on the plane.

  3. Fuel Transfer: Once the hose is connected, the fuel is transferred to the aircraft’s fuel tanks. The fuel transfer rate will depend on the size of the fuel tank and the equipment used.

  4. Fuel Quality Check: A sample of the fuel is tested to ensure that its quality meets safety standards. This is done to ensure that the fuel is free of water, contaminants, and has the right mixture of additives.

  5. Disconnecting the Fuel Hose: Once the fuel tanks are filled up, the hose is disconnected, and the refueling truck moves away.

  6. Closing the Fuel Caps: The fuel caps are securely closed to prevent fuel from leaking out.

  7. Final Safety Checks: The refueling crew conducts final safety checks to ensure that all fueling equipment is accounted for, and the fuel tanks are secure.

It is worth noting that some of the newer planes have the option of ‘center tank fueling.’ This process involves refueling the plane through a port located at the center of the aircraft. This eliminates the need to refuel from both wings, resulting in a faster refueling process.

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Average Refueling Time

The time it takes to refuel a plane varies based on different factors such as the size of the aircraft, the amount of fuel needed, and the equipment used. However, the table below shows an estimate of the average time it takes to refuel different types of planes:

Type of Aircraft Fuel Capacity Average Refueling Time
Cessna 172 56 gallons 5-10 minutes
Boeing 737 6,875 gallons 25-30 minutes
Airbus A320 6,200 gallons 20-25 minutes
Boeing 747 57,285 gallons 1.5-2 hours*

*The refueling time for Boeing 747 is significantly longer due to its massive fuel capacity.

It is important to note that the times listed above are averages and can vary depending on the factors discussed earlier.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that some airlines have optimized their refueling process to save time and improve efficiency. For example, some aircraft are refueled while passengers are boarding, which can save time between flights and increase the number of flights per day.

Overall, optimizing the refueling process can help save time and reduce the time that planes spend on the ground, ultimately leading to better airline economics and passenger experience.


In conclusion, the time it takes to refuel a plane depends on various factors. The size of the aircraft, the amount of fuel needed, refueling equipment used, and adverse weather conditions can all affect the refueling time.

The typical refueling process involves several steps, including positioning the aircraft, connecting the fuel hose, fuel transfer, fuel quality check, disconnecting the fuel hose, closing the fuel caps, and conducting final safety checks.

The average refueling time for different types of planes can range from 5-10 minutes for a Cessna 172 to 1.5-2 hours for a Boeing 747. However, these times are just estimates and can vary depending on the factors mentioned above.

Ultimately, optimizing the refueling process can help save time, improve efficiency, and enhance passenger experience. By understanding the factors that affect refueling time and implementing the best practices, airlines can minimize ground time, improve on-time performance, and better serve their passengers.

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James Blake

By James Blake

Does it fly? Then I am interested!

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