Friday, July 23, 2021

Red Bluff Airport (KRBL) Runs Out Of Fuel: Multiple planes grounded until refill

RED BLUFF, California — The Red Bluff Airport has run out of aviation fuel, and it’s not the only one.

Airports around the state have been struggling to replenish fuel supplies, particularly for what is called avgas, which is used on general aviation and commercial planes.

While there have been nationwide aircraft fuel shortages, according to Airport Manager Scott Miller, the issue is less about supply and more about lack of employees. The job crisis seems to have bled into the aviation industry.

“All the reports we got say it’s not so much lack of fuel or supply of fuel,” Miller said. “It’s the drivers supplying the fuel.”

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Aviation fuel requires dedicated drivers and trucks due to the temperamental nature of the material.

Miller said a single gallon of jet fuel being mixed with the avgas can dramatically lower the fuel octane that is required for the aircraft that need it.

“This situation is up and down the state, it’s difficult to get fuel for aviation,” Miller said.

Miller said the Oroville Airport had a similar situation in the last week and the airfield in Redding still has no fuel since it ran out.

So far, residents have had to cancel flights and some individuals have been unable to fly their planes out of the airport because their tanks are empty.

While Miller and others have been working with other airports to order and split fuel deliveries, it could still be some time before the shipments come.

“Before, we used to be able to order fuel and get deliveries the next day,” Miller said. “Now, it went from a week away, to 10 days to, now, 17-plus days. Right now we’re looking at Aug. 3.”

When the airport does receive the fuel, it will likely have to split it with another airport.

Miller said the Red Bluff Airport, as of Thursday, is completely out of avgas and has only 12,000 gallons of Jet A fuel, which is used for attack vehicles, helicopters and larger aircraft. Some of the Jet A fuel was used Tuesday night for an air ambulance.

Carden Aircraft Services Director of Maintenance Gary Walker said the company would be taking a hit from the lack of gas for aircraft.

“Financially, the lack of fuel sales hurts,” Walker said. “That and the frustration of not being able to serve our customers.”

Walker said this is the first time he’s seen a shortage like this in his career. He is one of the people aiding Miller in contacting other airport managers to set up deliveries.

“We’re not just sitting and waiting for it to happen,” Walker said. “We’re trying to actively solve the problem.”

Miller explained that the timing is a hazard in itself. The state is in the middle of fire season with wildfires popping up in various counties such as the large Dixie Fire in Butte County.

A lack of aircraft fuel could be detrimental to firefighting efforts.

Red Bluff Fire Captain Ray Barber said it would be a concern to his department if for any reason an airbase was needed at the airport.


  1. WEll, get used to it. Government handouts (free money without working) along with our ridiculous pipe line cuts will assure problems for a long time. No surprise here.

    1. Avgas can't be run through pipelines because of its lead content. It's strictly an over-the-road delivery. If it was unleaded now, as it eventually will be, its transportation cost would go down markedly.

    2. If pipelines are arbitrarily shut down, it would not seem to matter whether or not the fuel has a lead content. Perhaps you are thinking about the Russian pipelines which has been given approval by the current regime. Maybe Russian pilots' fuel costs will go down?

    3. Hah. Confidently incorrect, with a touch of misplaced outrage thrown in. Lots of that going around...

    4. "Hah. Confidently incorrect, with a touch of misplaced outrage thrown in. Lots of that going around..."

      Are you responding to bear's comment? Because if so I can tell you first hand being in the supply chain industry that there is not only a truck driver shortage, but there's a labor shortage as well in everything from warehouse labor to restaurant and retail labor to general contractor construction labor. If you don't understand that, then you must be a Biden supporter and fake news CNN watcher. You probably don't believe inflation is about to destroy what's left of the middle classes as well. Get your head out of yourass.

    5. @bear - I know. I live it daily in my job fielding calls from customers wondering where their supplies are which originate in distribution centers nationwide. It's worse in some areas than others. Chicago is the worst. They can't get enough drivers and warehouse labor. It's easier to sit on your fatass taking another Biden check.

  2. Firefighting turbine airframes can be supported with Jet-A replenishment using C130's hauling a fuel bladder. The 379th out of Nellis can solve that problem. Plenty of lift capacity to add a few pallets of 100LL drums to a bladder haul flight, too.

  3. Well here's an idea... any pilot with a CDL? Maybe any one of those airports can buy a fuel truck too.. and I mean the large big rig type.

  4. "Mark Haynes is VP of sales for Avfuel, one of the largest aviation fuel supply companies in the U.S. He says the supply chain that gets fuel from refineries to airports is only as strong as its weakest link. Right now, that's a shortage of tanker truck drivers, drivers who need special certifications that can take months to get. Once you start getting west of the Rockies, the supply sources are further spread out. So the trucks have to - you know, especially these outlying airports, the trucks have to run 200, 400 miles to deliver a load of jet fuel." @NPR
    and the supply of tetraethyl lead for AVGAS is becoming ???. "The U.K.-based Innospec is believed to be the only remaining producer of TEL, although it may also be made in China. Nonetheless, it’s not hard to imagine rules that ban its export or import by a date certain. The number of countries that still allow leaded fuels is a precious few."