Report: Jet Fuel Conference

Jet Fuel Conference attendees heard predictions about changes in the airline fleet, as well as uncertainty about the volatile price of crude.

One of the challenges this would bring, he explains, comes in the delivery of the product. The pipelines it would need to go through currently carry higher sulfur content products. “The cost of this handling is going to go up,” he says.

“Some pipelines may elect to no longer handle jet fuel when it constitutes such a small percentage of their volume. It will then require other modes of transportation.”

He recommends that airports and airport-based businesses involved with fuel delivery be in contact with pipeline companies to have a clearer understanding of the issues (

Meanwhile, Armbrust, who also publishes The Jet Fuel Report newsletter, explains that U.S. refining capacity is at some 17.3 million barrels/day, but is limited by the fact that no new refineries have been built in this country since 1974. Twenty refineries in the U.S. produce 55 percent of the jet fuel delivered, and 44 of the nation’s 134 refineries make jet fuel.

Intense market forces brought on by the growth in Asia, along with the ongoing political instability in oil-rich countries, makes long-term predictions regarding aviation fuel supply at best tentative. Armbrust expects the crude oil per barrel price to remain within the $50-75 range through the end of 2006.

Armbrust also restated his position that airports need to be more involved in the fuel delivery process, particularly due to the decreasing level of expertise at the airlines. “Airports, I believe, must lead the way ... to ensure operational integrity,” he says.

The Logan Example

Regarding airfield safety, Boston Logan’s assistant fire chief Paul Calderwood detailed an initiative at his airport which grew out of disaster preparedness exercises conducted since 9/11. Logan fire officials have taken lessons learned by the promotion of “inter-connectivity” between various private and public entities to airfield safety.

The concept, explains Calder-wood, is for everyone on the airfield to have an understanding of the role of others. “There’s a critical need for systems thinking,” he says.

An example: fire officials spend time in the control tower to get a controller’s perspective during an emergency; and, controllers tour the airfield in disaster response vehicles to get the firefighter’s point of view.

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