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What You Need to Know About Shipping Jet Fuel

Jet fuel powers flights for all kinds of aircraft. However, tight tanker trunk capacity has this explosive liquid in tight supply. See how we can help.

By

Harriet Daniels
August 17, 2021
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It takes a lot of power to fly any type of aircraft. And with the need to travel by air on the rise, so is the demand for shipping jet fuel. Getting from departure to arrival takes a coordinated effort to manage the overall logistics of the process on any given day.

The critical element is shipping jet fuel to supply the needed power to keep aircraft on the move to safely reach the destination on time. However, in the United States shipping jet fuel is considered HAZMAT freight transport. And carriers hauling aviation fuel must follow strict guidelines set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Couple that with a shortage of trucks and drivers available to transport jet fuel increases the urgency to ensure there is no disruption to the supply chain.

Here we will outline what you need to know about shipping jet fuel. The network of carriers who are qualified to transport tankers loaded with fuel is limited when compared to shipping other commodities.

Why Is There a Shortage of Jet Fuel?

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In recent months, several factors have contributed to the shortage of jet fuel supply across the country. The lack of truck drivers, especially those certified with a HAZMAT endorsement is few in number.

The overall truck driver shortage has been a growing problem in recent years. Estimates from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) puts the shortfall at approximately 60,000 as early as 2018. However, it’s a rate that’s expected to continue based on current trends like older drivers retiring from the industry and federal law requiring commercial truck drivers to be over 21 to transport freight across state lines.

The current status leading to the shortage of jet fuel is attributed to the wildfires underway in several western states and also the disruption of the pipelines serving regional hubs. 

First, as wildfires burn out west, crews using planes to make aerial drops of water and chemicals to fight the flames, agencies are diverting fuel reserves to keep enough on standby for fire crews. The fires are in hard-to-reach rural areas so having access by air is key, however, without jet fuel for the planes and helicopters, it makes the job tougher on the ground.

And the fires are occurring just as oil production pipelines serving vital sectors ramp back up following disruptions like the winter storm that shut down Texas for a few weeks and then the cybersecurity breach that impacted the network throughout much of the eastern United States. So keeping enough jet fuel on hand is now a priority. Even major airline companies are trying to conserve fuel so the entire commercial aviation industry does not come to a halt as business and leisure travel picks up following the slowdown caused by the pandemic.

Is There a Difference Between Gasoline and Aviation Fuel?

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While gasoline and aviation fuel may seem to be interchangeable, this is not the case. Not all fuel is the same. For starters, the concentration of the fuel varies depending on the vehicle. Regular gasoline for cars has a lower hydrocarbon mix than the fuel used by aircraft. Diesel fuel is also a different blend that can only be used by vehicles equipped with a diesel engine. However, aviation fuel is kerosene-based and has a higher number of hydrocarbons making it heavier than regular gasoline.

A few types of aviation fuel:

  • Jet Fuel A – the workhorse of jet fuels for commercial flights
  • Jet Fuel A1 – used in cold climates, mostly international routes
  • Avgas – small airplanes with piston engines

Jet Fuel A and Jet Fuel A1 are used mostly for commercial aircraft, with Jet Fuel A mostly for domestic flights. The difference between the two is the mix of kerosene and the freezing points and can be used in both turbine engines like on most jets and turboprops also known as propellers. Jet Fuel A1 freezes at a lower temperature which makes it ideal for use in aircraft flying in colder climates or international routes.

Keeping vehicles moving on the road or in the air requires the right fuel in the engines. There is a difference between regular gas for passenger vehicles, diesel that is used in trucks hauling freight and the jet fuel used in aviation to keep airplanes and helicopters soaring high. It’s critical to have enough jet fuel in good supply at large and small airports around the country. However, keeping the fuel flowing without interruption is becoming more challenging as the demand continues to grow.

The FAQs of Shipping Jet Fuel

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Since jet fuel is considered a hazardous material, carriers responsible for transporting it must follow strict regulations to ensure safety throughout the process. Whether this is the first time shipping jet fuel or looking to use another company, there are always a lot of questions that need to be addressed. We try to take on a few here:

How much does it cost to ship jet fuel?

The cost of shipping jet fuel will vary based on several factors. The amount of fuel being shipped along with the delivery destination are just a few of the items which have an impact on the quote to transport.

Is jet fuel hazardous?

Yes, jet fuel is classified as a hazardous material and must follow all the guidelines of handling HAZMAT commodities. It is best to work with a qualified HAZMAT carrier to transport jet fuel safely.

Is shipping jet fuel like gas and other petroleum products?

Although jet fuel is derived from petroleum, once it is refined and loaded in tanker trucks for transport, the fuel is a different make up from regular gas used in automobiles. As a highly flammable liquid, freight shipping petroleum is a delicate process.

 Why is there a shortage of jet fuel?

The shortage of jet fuel has caused commercial flight delays and other shipping woes in recent weeks. So what’s the reason for the shortage? The disruption of the fuel pipeline which serves much of the busy southeast region of the country is one reason, with the ongoing driver shortage as the second reason. Add the shift of fuel resources to help with fire suppression efforts out west and the problem grows.

How to Ship Jet Fuel?

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The best thing you can do to ship jet fuel is to work with a logistics expert who knows the rigors of transporting hazardous materials. There are no shortcuts and no room for error when it comes to shipping jet fuel just a few miles or across state lines.

Be sure to search for a transportation solution that has a track record with shipping aviation fuel, not just a fly by night outfit looking to make a buck. Handling hazardous material requires a lot of documentation to list what the freight includes, who should be notified if there is an accident and who is responsible. In addition, the carrier should also have an excellent safety record on the road. This is what you will depend on the logistics expert to guide you through during the process for a successful delivery.

When searching for the right solution to handle shipping jet fuel, we advise working closely with a logistics expert that is able to answer questions promptly, and has a vast network to assemble the best resources and equipment to fit your needs. Anything dealing with aviation is a big load because of all the moving parts that it takes to keep planes in the air.

We offer a range of services which are well-suited for the delivery of aviation fuel. It may be an entire regional supply route to fuel small airports, we have a trusted network of partners to manage the load. Rely on the logistics professionals to offer a ton of tips to help make sure everything is ready to go on your end.

Shipping Jet Fuel with R+L Global Logistics

We are here to make your job of shipping jet fuel easy. Trust our logistics experts at R+L Global Logistics to coordinate the freight details and get everything delivered on time and ready to go.

R+L Global Logistics freight services include:

  • Truckload shipping
  • Less-than-truckload shipping
  • Heavy haul trucking
  • Refrigerated shipping
  • Expedited freight
  • HAZMAT carriers
  • Flatbed carriers
  • White glove delivery
  • And more

When you combine our exceptional customer service with a 99.5 percent on-time delivery rate the result is that customers are in good hands during the entire process. When it’s time to ship domestically or internationally, make R+L Global Logistics your first call for supply chain solutions.

Dealing with how much aviation fuel needs to be loaded for each stop is the thing you’ll need to track when it comes to customer service with R+L Global Logistics. Our team of experts will handle the rest when it comes to freight shipping. We make the process easy to access a variety of services to meet your shipping needs. 

Contact R+L Global Logistics by phone at (866) 353-7178 to obtain a freight quote. We’re ready to align our services to your business needs and build a strategic partnership to accommodate shipping jet fuel.

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