Jet fuel, regardless if it is Jet A, Jet A-1, Jet B or any other type, is colorless to straw-colored in appearance. Aviation gasoline, on the other hand, such as AVgas 80, 100 and 100LL is dyed for easy identification for safety purposes.
But why is this, and what is the color coding system that is used?
Why Jet Fuel is Colorless and Avgas Colored
Jet fuel is a colorless, refined kerosene-based type of fuel. It is used for airplanes with turbine engines, like jet engines and turboprops.
There is no need for it to be dyed for easy identification because it can be used interchangeably to operate turbine-engines airplanes. This is despite there being some differences in the manufacturing specifications between the different types of jet fuel.
Avgas, on the other hand, which powers small piston-engine airplanes like those you see private pilots fly, is dyed to easily identify the type and grade of fuel.
Avgas is dyed as follows:
- Avgas 80: Red
- Avgas 100: Green
- Avgass100LL: Blue
It is paramount that different types of Avgas can easily be identified because the higher the grade of gasoline, the more pressure the fuel can withstand without detonating. In other words, lower grades of fuel are used in lower-compression engines because these fuels ignite at a lower temperature, and vice versa.
Dying the fuel ensures that the correct fuel is delivered into storage tanks, fuel trucks, and aircraft fuel tanks.
Jet Fuel and Avgas Color Chart
The following chart shows the most commonly used Avgas and turbine fuels.
Besides the different colors of the background, you may have also noticed the different colors of the lettering. You can see that all Avgas is identified by name, using white letters on a red background, while jet fuels are identified by white letters on a black background.
Additionally, this color-coding system extends to decals and various airport fuel handling equipment, which you can also see on the chart.
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.