There’s nothing like a spike in jet-A prices to cause aircraft operators to investigate new money-saving strategies. Last year’s surge in prices to more than $5 per gallon after Hurricane Katrina raised discussion of the usual economy measures, including private fuel farms. What could be better than topping off at home base at wholesale rates and tankering through all those FBOs that are charging two or three dollars more per gallon?
With crude oil and jet-A prices rising and demand continuing to grow, retail purchasers of fuel might wonder why fuel companies bother with promotional programs. Isn’t jet-A a commodity, easily mixed among brands? Does it matter what kind of jet-A you put in your airplane?
With jet-A prices already soaring and likely to climb during the summer, business jet operators continue to seek ways to save money on fuel. Contract fuel companies, which either sell their own fuel or arrange for discounts from airports and FBOs, report an increase in calls from operators. “It’s tough lately,” said Alyse Daniel, membership coordinator for fuel discounter Jet Fleet International.
Jet fuel derived from coal successfully powered a Rolls-Royce T63 turboshaft engine recently at Pennsylvania State University. According to a Penn State scientist, tests have shown that the fuel mix can go to at least 75 percent coal and the end product meets or exceeds all specifications for JP8 and jet-A and has a higher flash point.
Mercury Air Centers opened its new FBO terminal at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport (PHF) on June 7, with new general manager Mike Agee at the helm. The 8,000-sq-ft, one-floor facility is representative of typical Mercury Air Centers facilities, according to company owner Kenn Ricci.
The state of the aircraft service industry eight months after September 11 can best be described as guardedly optimistic. Thanks largely to the success and publicity of fractional programs, the public has never been more aware of the benefits of business and personal aviation. At the same time, airlines have proven themselves less and less capable of meeting the travel needs of top-level executives and so-called “high net worth” individuals.