How Fuel Efficient Is An Airplane?
100 Comments


– Hi, I’m Cristen, and this is Brain Stuff. When you think about it,
airplanes are pretty much amazing. Despite their weight, these
enormous metal contraptions can lift hundreds of people into the air, and most of the time
they can do this safely if not kind of comfortably. Take the Boeing 747-8, for example. It has a maximum takeoff
weight of 487.5 tons. Now for comparison, that’s
about the same weight as almost 140 average
sized African elephants, and that’s a bunch of weight to move, and the engines need a lot
of fuel to make that happen. But how much fuel do they need, exactly? Now before we answer that, let’s ask another question. Why should we care? Well, fuel efficiency and
fuel cost is part of how an airline determines ticket prices. So a more efficient
airline can theoretically result in lower ticket prices for you. Let’s look at a plane
on an international trip to see how much fuel it uses per person. And since we’re dealing
with a lot of numbers, let’s set it up this way. I’ll use US standard measurements, but since the rest of the
world uses the metric system, we’ll pop those up on the screen too. So save those comments for something else. So here we go, we’re ready for takeoff. A plane like the 747-8 can carry around 63,034 gallons of fuel, giving it the ability to
make extremely long flights. So flying from, say, LA
to Australia is no problem as long as it’s gassed up. However, the plane uses approximately one gallon of fuel every second, and this means that over the
course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons of fuel, which sounds like a lot, right? Now, according to
Boeing, this works out to approximately five
gallons of fuel per mile when the plane is in flight. And at first this might
sound like the plane gets a terrible miles per gallon
rating and isn’t very efficient, but let’s remember that the 747-8 isn’t some four-door sedan. It can carry as many as 568 people on a very uncomfortable flight. So how does all that
fuel work out per person? Well, let’s say, for
example, that there are 500 people on a plane. So a 747-8 is transporting 500 people one mile using five gallons of fuel. This means that the plane
is burning about .01 gallons per person per mile. In other words, the plane is getting 100 miles per gallon per person. For comparison, the
typical car gets around 25 miles per gallon. So in this respect, the
747 is actually much better than a car carrying one person, and compares favorably even if there are four people in the car. Now of course, this isn’t
exactly an apples to apples comparison for a number of reasons. But still, 100 miles per gallon per person isn’t all that bad when you consider that the 747 is flying at
about 550 miles per hour. So how about you? How fuel efficient is your private plane? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like and
subscribe to Brain Stuff. And hey, you should also
check out my channel, Stuff Mom Never Told You.

100 thoughts on “How Fuel Efficient Is An Airplane?

  1. Thank you thank you. I always wondered how it was possible to have a round trip ticket to Thailand for $1,000. If the normal fair is $1,500. Fuel cost is about $800. If your aircraft is half full during the rainy season. You can discount the fair to $1000. That is not including fist class and business class passengers.

  2. This video is literally one of the worst "education video", especially the math. The background is in metric while the explanation is in imperial units. Not only is this confusing when the world uses metric standard, the math was also wrong on the conversions. Example @ 2:29, the math is so wrong, since a mile = 1.6km not 0.6km. Literally jaws drop. Also no one compares fuel efficiency on such horrendous math like 0.04l / 1.6km. Metric countries does L/100KM while imperial uses miles per gallons.

    How can you even produce an education video when everything presented creates cognitive dissonance. It is the opposite of educate, more like confusion.

  3. Also note this: in a car you have to go around some stuff – bays, mountains, etc. Planes can just fly straight above them. (well, sometimes you get diverted due to traffic or weather, but not too much).

  4. Holy shit, can you please at least get the metrics right when doing calculations? This is so basic. And why use the imperial system when "the rest of the world uses the metric system"? Aren't you supposed to be a science channel? Science uses SI. And you did not at all calculate the amount of fuel taken up with starting and landing an airplane. What's the mileage when flying lower distances? I calculated that once for fun and there is actually a certain distance which the distance flown should not fall below in order to have a positive gas mileage relative to cars. Not a great video.

  5. just remembering that ONLY 2 countries in the world still keep using Imperial unit (even the people who invented it doesnt use it any more) 19L/1.5Km Just say! 12.6L/Km !!!

    0.04L per 0.6Km???just say 15Km/L !!! OMG

  6. I now feel secure that my Masters in Aviation is worth something. This was totally Sesame Street level despite having brain in the title.

  7. Seriously…. why don't you bury that medieval gallon/foot/pound-crap 6 feet under, where it belongs??? It is ridiculous!

  8. And the 747 is a gas guzzler amongst planes. That's why airlines are opting instead for two-engined planes like the 777 and 787.

  9. Awesome video! The only problem is you didn't fill the car with passengers the way you did the plane. 500 people in the plane was 100mpg/person, yet the car with 5 people getting 20*mpg (*car full of people means less mpg) would be in theory near 100 mpg also. =O Don't mean to poke holes, yet I am. <3 lol

  10. My brain melted while trying to make sense of the different measurement units. The real solution would be for americans to stop being fucking retards using nonsensical units and joining the civilized world with metric.

  11. Good video, but… Considering that only US uses imperial system, I think it would be better explain using metric system and pop imperial measures on the screen. It was really confusing to follow the explanation =/

  12. 19L per 1.5km what a convenient measurement, next time maybe 4.234 mL/light nanosecond might be easier to use

  13. average car…in AMURICA FUCK YEAH. in europoor the cars tend to be more fuel efficient. not have 6L engines tends to help.

  14. "…the typical car gets around 25 miles per gallon…" (11.3 litres per 100 km). Are American cars really that bad? I'd consider 40 mpg (7 l/100 km) as typical.

  15. So trains, they are supposed to be fairly fuel efficient, so why do they charge so much for travel on a train?

  16. Seems like jumbo jets throttle back quite a bit at cruising altitude to save fuel and because the air is thinner. But they are full throttle on takeoff. I think the shorter the flight and the more connections the efficiency goes down a lot. Would like to see the average MPG for the average length flight. But the numbers so far were impressive.

  17. "A typical car get's 25 miles per gallon". I did have to look at the metric numbers for it. 10.6KM/L? I knew American cars were bad, but this bad…? No wonder they complain about fuel prices, even though it's dirt cheap.

    My car does 20.4 KM/L on average. In weird units, thats 48MPG.
    Please jsut go with the Metric system from now on. Most of the world uses it, because it makes sense.

  18. my god…can't you make it more confusing…learn about standards worldwide before you post educational video…unlike x

  19. In a typical configuration the 747-8 doesn't seat anywhere near 500 passengers. A quick search revealed a Lufthansa 747-8 with a capacity for 362 passengers. Also, aircraft are often not fully booked.

  20. I would like to see a comparison Between the gas consumption of a cargo aircraft vs a truck per kg of marchandise transported. And vs a cargo boat as well.

  21. Excellent question at the end there ("How fuel efficient is your private plane?'). Let's see:

    My 1979 Cheetah (with a dinosaur-era O-320) burns 8gph at 105kts cruise with 4 seats (although you can really only carry 3 people because the useful load for my Cheetah is an abysmal 725lbs). Sooo… we'll calculate for 3 peeps.

    8gph at 105kts gives you 15mpg for the plane, or .06 gallons per mile for the plane (3 peeps), or .02 gallons per person per mile.

    Soo… my 70's-era airplane is half as efficient as the 747-400 or about as efficient as an SUV. But granted I'm flying at 120mph and … I'm flying!

  22. Those "US Standard Measurements" are called the Imperial System of Units. Typical American arrogance to claim something as their own.

  23. Hello Cristen, very interesting facts about typical comercial airplaine fuel consuption. However, instead of comparing their fuel efficiency with a a fuel efficiency of a family car, I think it would make more sense to compare with other mass transport veicules, for example trains.

  24. Simple answer: planes obviously cannot be compared to a car's fuel efficiency simply because overcoming gravity takes a lot of energy. But that's not why people choose to travel in planes over cars is it.

  25. 1:18
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  26. Fun fact. A person on a bike can go about 720 miles per gallon. I calculated using lard, which almost has as much calories as gasoline.

  27. But the more fuel the plane carries, the added weight makes the plane burn more fuel. So what you said is somewhat wrong.

  28. Cool. How about the most common airframe, say a 737, on a common driving rout, say Chicago to St. Louis.? That would be easy to compare time of travel and fuel efficiency of air travel to road travel. Or how about a private jet, carrying 5 passengers across country and back to attend opening night on Broadway. How efficient is that?

  29. Can you not use miles and gallons? Only pretty much US uses miles and gallons. Even UK uses km and liters now…

  30. When you don't actually know model numbers because there is no such this as a boeing 747 8 it's a 747-800 and are reading the manufactures numbers. You shouldn't have picked an airplane at all but instead a jet engine manufacture such as p&w or General Electric and simply explained the mechanical efficiency & capabilities of commercial jet engines in respect to internal combustion engines

  31. This is fucking scary. You say "Why should we care" and then say why we should care. BECAUSE OF THE FUCKING PRICE?!? That's the least of my worries. When you burn that much fuel you will lead out TONS of CO2. Fuck now I think about how many flights take place every day. Rip.

  32. Even if you pop up metric system on the screen, it doesn't really make it any better. Metric system is good because its standardized, and easier to understand. Since the starting point is Imperial system, even conversions end up in weird places (eg. 1760 yards in a mile; even gallon can be Imperial gallon or US liquid gallon). Also, the calculations were wrong.

  33. and air plane requires no fuel.just say the hindu mantra and it will go . controlled by the mind.why they fill fuel i do not know.next flight no fuel just say fly and the bugger will fly.

  34. there are two types of countries in the world. Those who use metric and those who put a man on the moon.

  35. I have a simple formula just calculate the engine efficiency and put 10percencet more fuel in engine tank so it landed safely

  36. Jet aircraft were obsolete from the start. Hugh altitude heat deposition is already too big a problem for safety. Pushing massive volumes of superheated pollution into a frigid zone has frightful consequences on weather, creating super storms. Jet air craft contrails are not composed of water vapour and ice crystals. they consist of smog from burned kerosene, gasoline, aluminium oxide, and ten additives. The jet engine consumes and pollutes massive quantities of atmosphere as it passes through the engine, and the hot expanding contrail condenses massive quantities of water vapour as it descends.
    All of this water vapour and atmospheric gas are contaminated by post combustion by-products. Jet aircraft also rake ozone and water vapour from high altitudes to lower altitudes resulting in loss of ozone from the upper layers of the atmosphere where it normally stays and blocks U.V. radiation, to lower levels where it acts as a corrosive herbicide. The immense quantities of polluted water vapour constitute acid rain, which not only is carcinogenic, but result in drought due to the high-altitude water vapour being dragged to lower levels where it is dispersed.
    Air traffic is rapidly expanding as more and more Asians get enough wealth to afford jet holidays, and the atmosphere is already showing signs of reaching the breaking point. Jet air travel is fatal to the health of the entire biosphere. Look up, most of what you see are ordinary persistent jet contrails, not chemtrails. Add chemtrails to the equation, and we have a double disaster.

  37. You are looking at this from a human perspective, which is very understandable. But if you want to consider the impact of air travel on the environment (or – for global warming skeptics – on the depletion of our oil reserves), it is also not correct. You see, the environment doesn't care if you travel 100km or 1000km. It only cares about how much CO2 and other gases it has to deal with in a certain amount of time. So rather than calculating the fuel consumption per unit of distance, consider the fuel consumption per unit of time. Yes, an airplane is far more efficient than a typical car per kilometer, but the airplane covers that kilometer in far less time. Say a typical plane flies ten times as fast as a typical car (should be about correct). Now you can see that an hour in a plane is far worse for the environment than an hour in a car, let alone an hour in a train. And you wouldn't do a 10000km car ride in the first place, because it would take forever. Well, maybe a few people would, but otherwise, no. Which actually helps the environment even more.

    Also, while airplanes are now about twice as efficient as the first jets, there are far more airplanes in the sky to begin with. All in all, it seems that we find ever faster ways of getting through our oil and dumping CO2 and other gases into the atmosphere. Not that it's all bad. But like I said, it depends on your perspective. And I do feel this perspective should be getting more attention.

    So I just hope that part of what is happening is that these environmentally-unfriendly flights are bringing together people from all over the planet to come up with a solution for this problem.

  38. Despite the differences in British English and American English, the video was very well presented and was easy to understand and follow, I was glad you showed the metric as well as mentioning the old world imperial, it helped.

  39. Not nearly as efficient as a good train, of course, we have the added benefit of injecting all those nice combustion byproducts directly into the stratosphere

  40. There are 1.64 km to a 1 mile. Not 0.6km per mile as in this video. Also if you include big suitcases for 4 persons, and hand carry on luggage, you will need a van not a car. Please focus bit more on the accuracy of the content.

  41. I like your video nice job
    But you should give an extra time for the numbers you go fast and it's is confusing

  42. white stripes really? GREEN SCREEN…
    we still need to see how the planes are refueling… lol…show us
    the other agent of urs (jayZ) says same crap as u do

  43. So you didn't think to include takeoff, climbing, descent, landing and taxi? And what about medium sized planes? It's much more common with around 100-200 passengers. I mean I do get your point but you kind of missed something important.

  44. with 63,034 Gallons of fuel, 238,610 litres, can you tell us all what the weight of the fuel is alone. That plus the plane, passengers and baggage, how does it even lift off the ground. Seems odd to us. If water weighs 1kg per litre. 238,610 litres equals . They say aeroplane fuel weighs .81kg/litre. 238610 litres x .81kg equals 193274.1kg. how do it lift off?

  45. And the Jet is going 12 times as fast as the car. Inefficient general aviation aircraft can get about 25 miles per gallon and hold for people, and go at least two to three times faster than a car

  46. I have a question I haven’t seen the video yet but what about versus the helicopter I don’t know if you’ve covered that I might find out in a few minutes LOL I just had a question first

  47. Your math is wrong.

    1 gallons per second

    1 mile per 5 gallons

    1/5=0.2 miles per sec
    0.2*60=12 miles min
    12*60=720 miles per hour
    720 mph with no air resistance.

    @BrainStuff
    How long have you been based in California?

  48. Speaking about gallons and miles verbally and showing litres and kilometres on the screen is a terrible idea. please don't do it again. It was confusing.

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