A Boeing 747 can hold approximately 48,400 – 57,285 gallons of jet fuel depending on the model of aircraft (model series 100 – 400). This is 183,214 to 216,847 liters of fuel or about 180 to 213 tonnes.
Over the years Boeing has increased the maximum takeoff weight of 747 variants to allow the aircraft to carry more fuel and have a longer range.
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Fuel Capacity of Boeing 747 vs. Other Airliners
Compared to Airbus aircraft, it is only the A380, which is one of the most expensive planes built, that has a greater fuel tank capacity (84,535 gallons) than the largest of the Boeing 747’s, the 747-400 (57,285 gallons).
Compared to other Boeing aircraft, it is only the 747-8i Intercontinental (63,034 gallons) and 747-8f Freighter (59,734 gallons) that have a larger fuel capacity than any of the 747 variants.
- Airbus A318: 6,400 gallons (24,210 liters)
- Airbus A319: 6,400-7,980 gallons (24,210-30,190 liters)
- Airbus A320: 6,400–7,190 gallons (24,210–27,200 liters)
- Airbus A321: 6,350–7,930 gallons (24,050–30,030 liters)
- Airbus A340- 200: 40,960 gallons (155,040 liters)
- Airbus A340- 300: 39,060 gallons (147,850 liters)
- Airbus A340- 500: 56,750 gallons (214,810 liters)
- Airbus A340- 600: 51,750 (195,880 liters)
- Airbus A380: 84,535 gallons (320,000 liters)
- Boeing 737-100: 4,720 gallons (17,865 liters)
- Boeing 737-200: 45,160 gallons (19,532 liters)
- Boeing 737-300/400/500: 45,160 gallons (20,105 liters)
- Boeing 737-600/700/800/900/MAX: 6,878 gallons (26,035 liters)
- Boeing 747-100: 48,400 gallons (183,214 liters)
- Boeing 747-200/300: 52,410 gallons (199,158 liters)
- Boeing 747-400: 57,285 gallons (216,840 liters)
- Boeing 747-8i Intercontinental: 63,034 gallons (238,610 liters)
- Boeing 747-8f Freighter: 59,734 gallons (226,095 liters)
- Boeing 777-200: 31,000 gallons (117,348 liters)
- Boeing 777 Freighter: 47,890 gallons (181,283 liters)
- Boeing 787-8: 33,340 gallons (126,206 liters)
- Boeing 787-9/10: 36,384 gallons (126,372 liters)
How Much Fuel a Boeing 747 Burns
A Boeing 747 burns approximately 10 to 11 tonnes of fuel per hour. Per second, this equates to approximately 1 gallon (about 4 liters) of fuel. This is approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).
Over the course of a 10-hour flight, such as flying from Los Angeles to London, a Boeing 747 will burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters) of fuel.
These figures make it sound as if the Boeing 747 miles-per-gallon rating is horribly inefficient, but if we break down the numbers, the 747 is actually a very efficient aircraft and beats other modes of transportation by a long way.
Let’s say that a 747 can carry 500 people. For every mile flown, 5 gallons of fuel is used.
If we do the Math, this means that a 747 burns just 0.01 gallons per person per mile.
Looked at another way, a car uses about 25 miles per gallon, but a 747 burns only 100 miles per gallon per person.
Talk about efficiency!
Not that the airlines would necessarily agree, considering that approximately 40% of their operating budget goes to buying fuel.
Related: How Much Fuel Does a Plane Use?
How Much Fuel a Boeing 747 Uses During Takeoff
A typical Boeing 747 passenger jet burns approximately 5,000 gallons (about 19,000 liters) of fuel during takeoff and as it climbs to cruising altitude.
This means that a 747 burns through 10% of its total fuel capacity during takeoff alone.
It Costs a Lot to Refuel a Boeing 747
The price of jet fuel varies and has been quite volatile over the past 10-15 years – from a high of $3.17 per gallon in 2012 to less than half that just four years later.
If we take the price of jet fuel in 2020, which is $1.43 per gallon, we can see that it costs between $69,212 to $82,690 to fully fuel a Boeing 747 depending on the aircraft variant.
However, the price of jet fuel was very low in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. The average cost would usually be 3-4x greater.
The Fuel in a 747 is Stored in the Wings
Planes, including the Boeing-747, store fuel in their wings.
This might sound like an odd place to store fuel, but it is the most convenient and cost-saving option to store fuel.
Additionally, evenly distributing the fuel in the wings is an effective way to maintain a plane’s center of gravity, and after holding the passengers and cargo, the only viable option to store fuel is in the wings.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.