Boats or airplanes which is more polluting?


Rona Lachat

Oil tankers that break are more polluting than a Piper plane. Jet liners are more polluting than a sail boat. Haul 20 million pounds of stuff by plane is more polluting than by one container ship.

Jay P: You can look at it a couple of different ways

You can look at it a couple of different ways: 1) the vessel itself and the pollutants it emits or 2) the number of people on that vessel and the pollution emitted per person. If you're comparing a jet fighter to a cruise ship, the cruise ship will use more fuel and emit more pollution but when you compare the pollution numbers to the number of people on board, the one or two pilots inside the fighter will use more fuel and emit more pollution PER PERSON compared to the thousands on board a cruise ship.

Dr sean mulligan



Sailboats don't pollute. Ocean-going freighters, once they're out of territorial waters, burn "bunker fuel", which is the worst kind of cr@p fuel there is. You're going to have to be more specific with your question.


Jet engines are much more efficient than marine diesels. It will be a matter of how much total fuel is burned. For the same amount of fuel burned, jets are less polluting. Marine diesels also burn bunker fuel or fuel oil, a fuel that is very polluting.


I'd imagine boats because they have to make move through water. It probably depends on a lot of things. But that's just off the top of my head, idk really.

don r

That's worth studying; I will say this- right after 9/11 when all aircraft were grounded, I never in my whole life saw the air get so clean so quick.


Aircraft. Boats consume energy only to move along. Aircraft have to consume energy just to keep themselves aloft.


A way to identify this is what is the most cost effective means of shipping. Shipping by water is considered the most cost effective means of shipping. Second in most cost effective is a by train. Third is by truck and the most expensive by air. The biggest factor in why aircraft is so expensive is taking off! If lighter then air craft were used that cost is non-existent. Over all the most polluting means of transportation is by heavier then aircraft. By the way if only fuel used per ton mile is considered shipping by rail is the most efficient. The only thing that uses more fuel to ton is a rocket.