Combustors require fuels that atomize and ignite at low temperatures, burn with controlled radiation and adequate heat release, do not produce smoke, and do not attack hot turbine parts. The operation of jet aircraft in long-duration flights at high altitudes necessitates a special requirement of good low-temperature flow behaviour.

The most common jet fuel is a kerosene and paraffin oil-based fuel classified as JET A-1, which is produced to comply with an internationally standardized set of specifications. (Kerosene is a thin oil distilled from petroleum or shale oil, and is used as a fuel for heating and cooking, in lamps, and as a denaturant for alcohol.)

The only other jet fuel that is commonly used in civilian aviation is called JET B

JET B is a fuel in the naptha-kerosene “family” that is prized for its superior cold-weather performance. However, JET B’s lighter composition makes it more dangerous to handle, and it is thus restricted only to areas where its cold-weather characteristics are absolutely necessary.

Both JET A and JET B typically contain a number of additives, including: Antioxidants to prevent gumming, usually based on alkylated phenols (AO-30, AO-31, or AO-37); antistatic agents to dissipate static electricity and prevent sparking; corrosion inhibitors (DCI-4A used for civilian and military fuels, and DCI-6A used for military fuels); and fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII) agents, such as Di-EGME (FSII is often mixed at the point-of-sale so that users with heated fuel lines do not have to pay the extra expense).

Fuel for piston-powered craft (usually a high octane gasoline known as Avgas) has a low flash point so as to improve its ignition characteristics.

Turbine engines can be successfully operated via a wide array of fuels, and jet-aircraft engines typically use fuels with higher flash points which are less flammable and therefore safer to transport and handle. The first jet fuels were based on kerosene or a gasoline-kerosene mixture, and most jet fuels, in the vein of JET A-1, are still kerosene-based.