What Stage of a Flight Consumes the Most Fuel ?

At what stage the fuel is consumed the most during a flight is something that changes according to the point of view.

If we look at the total amount of fuel consumed during the stages of the flight, the section after the plane reaches cruising altitude is actually the stage where the fuel is consumed the most. Because airplanes usually fly at this stage for the longest time and distance.

sections of flight
Sections of Flight

However, if we look at it in terms of distance/consumption, the most fuel is consumed during take-off and climbing. At these stages, the aircraft’s engines are operating at or near full power. In addition, the amount of friction is much higher than at cruising level.

In addition, there is a considerable share of the fuel consumed while the planes are on the ground at the airport, while they make a “taxi” before takeoff and after landing.

flight fuel consumption
source: OAG

In an analysis prepared by OAG, all these cases are examined in great detail. Flight operation is divided into six parts: taxi-out, take-off, climb, cruise, approach and taxi-in. Ten routes of different lengths and different types, all departing from London Heathrow Airport, are discussed.

Naturally, the longer the flight range, the higher the share of fuel consumed while cruising. For flights from London to destinations such as Dubai, Hong Kong, and New York, this rate has risen to the level of 95%. On the other hand, while this rate decreased to 60% in Edinburgh and Paris flights, the share of fuel consumed in other phases of the flight increased.

Let’s immediately add that the type of aircraft used has an effect as well as the distance flown. The “distance traveled/consumption” relationship that I mentioned at the beginning of my article was not included in the analysis of OAG. However, when we look at the fuel consumption values ​​of the Edinburgh and Paris expeditions, we can understand this relationship.

At this point, when we consider the fuel consumption, we see that the departure procedures of the aircraft is very important issue.

In addition, with the developing aviation industry, airport capacities have also increased. Larger aprons were built to serve more aircraft. For the same reasons, the use of multiple runway operations at an airport has increased. We can roughly say that these developments also may increase the taxi times of aircraft on the ground and have been a factor in the increase in fuel consumption.

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