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Aircraft Refueller

Kaiwhakakī Waka Rererangi

Alternative titles for this job

Aircraft refuellers fill aircraft with fuel at airports.

Pay

New aircraft refuellers usually earn

$55K-$65K per year

Experienced aircraft refuellers usually earn

$65K-$75K per year

Source: Air BP and Z Energy, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an aircraft refueller are poor due to low turnover and a lack of new positions.

Pay

Pay for aircraft refuellers varies depending on their skills and experience.

  • New aircraft refuellers usually earn $55,000 to $65,000 a year. 
  • Experienced aircraft refuellers can earn up to $75,000.

These rates include a base salary as well as an allowance for working extra shifts.

Source: Air BP, 2018; and Z Energy, 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Aircraft refuellers may do some or all of the following:

  • follow schedules that say what time the aircraft to be refuelled will arrive
  • check and maintain the vehicles that transport fuel
  • fill aircraft with fuel from vehicles
  • regularly check fuels for contaminants such as water
  • follow strict safety procedures when filling aircraft and transporting fuel
  • communicate with pilots and airport ground crew.

Skills and knowledge

Aircraft refuellers need to have:

  • ability to use and maintain refuelling equipment
  • knowledge of different types of fuel
  • knowledge of the safety rules and regulations that apply when working at an airport.

Working conditions

Aircraft refuellers:

  • usually work eight to 12-hour shifts during the day or at night
  • work at airports on the tarmac and runways, and in airport terminal buildings, hangars and freight buildings
  • work in most weather conditions, and often in noisy, hazardous situations
  • may travel locally between airports and bulk oil depots.

What's the job really like?

Paul Kingham

Aircraft Refueller

Shifts mean Paul can balance work and play

Not many people can play golf in the middle of the week, says aircraft refueller Paul Kingham. But he can.

"The shift patterns in this job are good: we do five days on and three off, for four weeks; then four on, four off for three weeks. It's all about quality of life and I get to work and do other things like golf, tennis, water-skiing, or going to the gym."

It pays to keep your cool and concentrate

"If everything goes to schedule there's no panic," says Paul. "But, when there's a 10-plane backlog to clear, it pays to keep a cool head. You can't get stressed when people are saying, 'Where's my fuel?' You just have to say, 'Hold on mate, we can only do one job at a time,' because there are no shortcuts. You have to keep cool because it's when you start panicking that you can stuff up."

The job can be repetitive, and that's another reason mistakes can happen. "The repetitive nature of the job can be a trap, because something can go wrong if you get blasé. You need to put a certain amount of fuel in a plane, and if you're thinking about what you're going to do on Saturday night you could put too much in. You have to keep your mind on the task."

Find out what it takes to be an aircraft refueller – 1.44 mins. (Video courtesy of the Royal NZ Air Force)

So as an aviation refueller, our core tasking is to refuel aircraft, but behind the scenes there is a lot more to it.

We conduct fuel quality control testing, maintenance tasking on our vehicles before any fuel is issued to aircraft, and the receipting of fault fuel into our storage tanks.

My day-to-day tasking involves stock control of all of our fuels. So I look after the issuing in and out of our vault storage tanks. Also I look after our heavy fleet vehicles.

We are trained in all of our licences, be it trucks, forklifts, things of the like. All the skills that I’ve learned within the fuel section are transferable outside the military. We have BP-recognised qualifications as well as transport qualifications for heavy vehicles.

The reason I chose aviation refueller as a trade is it is quite a unique trade, we do a lot of outdoors work away from base. You also get to drive many different vehicle types. So it was quite appealing to me.

I think as an aviation refueller you need to be independent but be able to work in a team environment. There are times when you will be sent off from base, by yourself into the field and you need to conduct tasking safely and effectively.

In my 10 years in the Air Force, I have done a three-month stint down in Antarctica, I’ve done a six-month stint in Sinai, and then another three-month stint in Sinai, and I’ve done a six-month stint in Afghanistan. Being in Afghanistan was a great experience for me, and I was in charge of looking after all the fuels and generators and aircraft flying through Ba’ini.

Entry requirements

To become an aircraft refueller you need to have:

  • a Class 4 or 5 (full) heavy vehicle driver's licence
  • a dangerous goods (D) endorsement on your driver's licence.

Because aircraft refuellers work at airports they need to have security clearance, so they must not have any criminal convictions.

Once employed, aircraft refuellers must attend at least six weeks of on-the-job training. During this time they learn about fuel quality sampling, the correct amounts of fuel for specific aircraft, and fire and emergency drills.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become an aircraft refueller. However, construction and mechanical technologies is useful.

Personal requirements

Aircraft refuellers need to be:

  • quick-thinking and able to make good judgements
  • able to work well under pressure
  • accurate, methodical and patient in their work
  • able to work independently and in a team
  • safety-conscious
  • good communicators.

Useful experience

Useful experience for aircraft refuellers includes:

  • a mechanical background
  • tanker or truck-driving experience
  • experience handling chemicals, fuels and dangerous goods.

Physical requirements

Aircraft refuellers need to have a good level of fitness and strength because they work with hoses that weigh between 10 and 15 kilograms.

Aircraft refuellers also need to be in good health, without any heart conditions. They must pass an annual medical examination.

Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Low turnover among aircraft refuellers

Opportunities for aircraft refuellers are limited because:

  • people tend to stay in the role for a long time, meaning few vacancies arise
  • although tourism is growing, aircraft are becoming more fuel efficient, so the number of refueller positions remains stable.

Best opportunities at larger airports

Demand for aircraft refuellers at regional airports has declined, so you are more likely to secure work at the larger airports in Auckland and Wellington.

It is a good idea to approach employers, such as oil companies, directly to register your interest. This is because vacancies only come up from time to time.

Oil companies the main employers of aircraft refuellers

Most aircraft refuellers work at international airports for large oil companies such as:

  • Z Energy
  • Air BP
  • Mobil Oil New Zealand.

Aircraft refuellers at regional airports may work for small private companies.

Aircraft refuellers can also work for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Sources

  • Hewitt, T, aviation operations manager, Z Energy, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, March 2018.
  • Noonan, C, New Zealand operations manager, Air BP, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, March 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Aircraft refuellers may progress to work in supervisory or managerial roles, which can involve training new aircraft refuellers and doing administrative work.

They may also move into maintenance roles.

An aircraft refueller in a vehicle refuels an aeroplane on the tarmac

Aircraft refuellers fill aircraft with fuel

Last updated 25 September 2018