Avfuel provides a behind the scenes look at the supply process that often goes unnoticed.
Business Airport International / January 2020 – Without calling ahead to ensure an airport has fuel (unless flying to a remote location), it is the pilot’s expectation that there will be fuel available. It’s something those in the industry can easily take for granted on every trip when they land at an airport, and that’s the magic of it.
The magic lies in the unseen – the months of planning and logistics that go unnoticed to deliver that routine load of fuel from the refinery to the wingtip of an aircraft. And at risk of losing that mystique, the Avfuel team is lifting the veil on the process. Because what’s a given for FBOs, airports and pilots, commercial carriers and cargo handlers, is actually the product of a meticulous, well-oiled, complicated machine of logistics and support.
Supply and logistics
The basis of reliable supply lies in developing and maintaining relationships with a network of producers. Avfuel has more than 100 such relationships with refineries and oil companies, as well as experience with trading and pipeline management. This redundancy in supply ensures, even in times of shortages due to weather or closures, customers receive the fuel they need. The supply team not only manages these relationships, but also handles the logistics of transporting the fuel from the refinery to the terminal or short-term storage facility, of which there are more than 275 in the Avfuel Network. This is done via pipeline, barge, rail or truck, depending on product type, origin and destination.
Over-the-road transport trucks then haul fuel from the storage terminals to their final destinations – airport and FBO fuel storage systems. Avfuel’s logistics department helps oversee the inventories of hundreds of fuel tanks. This dedicated team of experienced professionals works 24/7 every day of the year to take and manage fuel orders for the entire Avfuel Network of 650+ branded FBOs, as well as all other major aviation segments. They successfully source the fuel as efficiently and cost effectively as possible for the company’s customers, and work directly with dedicated fuel haulers to safely transport the fuel, while adhering to strict quality control measures along the way.
Safety and support
The product undergoes meticulous quality control procedures at multiple touchpoints along the fuel’s lifecycle, particularly while the fuel is at the refinery, at the terminal, loaded into the transport truck and unloaded into airport storage units. To further ensure fuel safety, Avfuel employs a team of fuel quality assurance experts who are available every minute of every day of the year to answer and troubleshoot any fuel or refueling equipment question or concern.
And while the fuel has made it to its final destination, the support surrounding it doesn’t end. There are crucial training systems that educate employees and provide recurrent training needs on fuel handling and safety, such as the Avfuel Training System, which includes FAA- approved Part 139 fuel safety training, and a plethora of ground-handling lessons and resources. There are tax implications, for which Avfuel has an extensive team of well-versed professionals in its Ann Arbor headquarters. There’s aircraft refueling equipment, of which Avfuel designs, assembles, refurbishes, manages and supports a fleet of more than 800 trucks. There are credit lines, card processing and loyalty rewards to help streamline the payment process and reward purchases. The list goes on.
This accrues to hundreds of employees, countless hours and extensive resources all to ensure the fuel that’s pumped into the wing of an aircraft is always available and always on spec. It goes unnoticed, and that’s the way any good fuel supplier would prefer it. Because an unnoticed, unremarkable, routine uplift is the hallmark of an efficient, effective and successful process. When that happens, the magic is unseen, but it’s there all the same.