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I recently asked what kind of fuel reserve airlines were required to have. It turns out there are international guidelines for that, which for commercial flights are:

Per ICAO Annex 6, Part I, section 4.3.6 "Fuel Requirements," airplanes should calculate their required fuel quantity as follows (summary; see below for actual ICAO text):

  • Taxi fuel
  • Trip fuel (to reach intended destination)
  • Contingency fuel (higher of 5% of "trip fuel" or 5 minutes of holding flight)
  • Destination alternate fuel (to fly a missed and reach an alternate)
  • Final reserve fuel (45 minutes of holding flight for reciprocating engines, 30 minutes for jets)
  • Additional fuel (if needed to guarantee ability to reach an alternate with an engine failure or at lower altitude due to a pressurization loss)
  • Discretionary fuel (if the pilot in command wants it)

Considering a flight has many unknown, the same connexion using the same airplane will have different fuel requirement and fuel remaining, simply depending on the date you decide to have a look at the data.

Is there any statistics of how much fuel is left on average in aircrafts after landing of commercial flights?

It can be an average for commercial flights in general, a breakdown of short / medium / long haul flights, expressed in percentage of tank volume or in liters / gallons / weight. Or any usable measure I did not think of that can be used to do basic calculations.

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  • $\begingroup$ There are way too many variables here. For example some regional aircraft may carry extra fuel to get to a destination that has cheaper prices or a contract. I also don't know that an accounting is done in that regard, usually the pilot just asks for a specific amount for the next leg (or more). $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Mar 2 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ If fuel costs more at airport B than at airport A, and the cost of carrying extra fuel from airport A to airport B is less than the difference between the cost of the fuel at A and B, then airlines will sometimes carry more than they need to save money overall. $\endgroup$
    – Flynn
    Mar 2 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer I agree there are many variables, I'd be interested to know if statistics exist. We could get an estimate using fuel economy figures like the one in this page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_economy_in_aircraft ; but that wouldn't take into account other externalities like cheaper fuel you mentioned. $\endgroup$ Mar 2 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ Some airlines fill the fuel tanks to the brim if it's going to make many short hops, the faster turnaround offsets the extra fuel burn and wear on the aircraft. I believe this would mess with the data you'd have with averaging the fuel left in arriving aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – Efe Ballı
    Mar 3 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ @EfeBallı Good to know. Cost of aircraft remains low compared to fuel. I guess this practice is more common when the crew of the plane remains the same (when labor is the highest operating cost, which it is for some high salary countries). Operating costs source (usa 2019): i2.wp.com/transportgeography.org/wp-content/uploads/… $\endgroup$ Mar 4 at 15:58

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