When Chuck Gielow says his company "moves some fuel,’’ he means it.Signature Flight Support pumped more than 715 million gallons of jet fuel last year at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, leading the nation in the amount of fuel pumped into cargo planes.The airport also ranks in the top five for passenger aircraft fueled, according to company officials.Orlando, Fla.-based Signature Flight Support is the contractor that operates Anchorage Fueling and Service Co., a consortium of 21 airlines formed in 1981 to provide fueling services at the airport.The consortium runs the bulk fuel storage plants in Anchorage, as well as the transfer pipelines, fueling trucks and aircraft facilities. Signature is responsible for pumping the fuel, security, spill prevention and cleanup.The company fuels planes at 48 locations nationwide. Signature took over operations in Anchorage in 1992 with the merger of Page Avjet and Butler Aviation.In May, Signature fueled just more than 4,200 jet airplanes in Anchorage. In the summer, the numbers go up to more than 4,900, according to Gielow, the company’s airline service manager.On average, Signature pumps about 2 million gallons of jet fuel daily. Alaska Airlines is the largest fuel user for passenger service; Korean Air, Federal Express and United Parcel Service use the most fuel for cargo planes, Gielow said. "Any overseas flight has to stop here for fuel," Gielow said. "That’s why we’re as big as we are."Fuel storage facilities are at the Port of Anchorage and near the airport. Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc.’s North Pole plant provides more than half of the jet fuel, which is shipped by rail to Anchorage. Tesoro Alaska Co. provides about 40 percent of the fuel for the airport via its Nikiski pipeline.The remainder comes from producers outside Alaska and is shipped here in tankers and barges, according to Gielow.Jeff Cook, vice president of external affairs for Williams, said his company produces 1.4 million gallons of jet fuel daily for Anchorage. Another 210,000 gallons is produced for Fairbanks each day, he said."We’re producing pretty much all we can," Cook said, adding that production was increased substantially in 1998. The company has no immediate plans to boost production, which would require major expansion of the North Pole refinery, he said.Increased production sometime in the future is not out of the question, however, he said."We’re certainly watching market trends," Cook saidRon Noel, Tesoro spokesman, said his company has no immediate plans for increased production, either. In fact, he said, the company sometimes has to import jet fuel from other producers to keep up with demand in the state."There are a lot of airplanes out there," Noel said.Jet A fuel fetches roughly the same price as premium unleaded gasoline, Gielow said. The actual cost is determined by each participating airline in the consortium, which negotiates prices individually with suppliers.Signature Flight Support has 115 workers in Anchorage, more than half of whom fuel airplanes.Safety, naturally, is the top priority with the company, said Bruce Vergason, Signature’s plant manager. He said new employees spend about 10 days of classroom time getting to know aircraft and safety procedures, followed by two weeks of on-the-job training.Any damage to an aircraft is grounds for an automatic discharge, said Gielow, who started with the company in 1982 as an aircraft refueler. On the flip side, the company rewards its employees for not damaging airplanes.Last year, the company had no incidents, resulting in a $1,600 bonus for each employee, Gielow said."We think of it as a free but hard-earned dividend every year,’’ Gielow said.Employees also are given bonuses and luncheons every month during which no flights are delayed due to refueling. Those free lunches are tough to earn with the sheer number of airplanes needing to be fueled and the obvious obstacle associated with Alaska, Gielow said."Weather -- that’s a challenge here,’’ Gielow said.With the capacity to fuel up to 50 airplanes at one time, coordination is vital. Airlines usually give the company two or more hours of notice for their fueling needs, Gielow said.Fuel is delivered to airplanes by tanker trucks or an underground pipeline that feeds a myriad of tanks or "pits" on the airport ramp. Jet wings are positioned over the pits and connected with hoses through a hydrant truck, which meters and filters fuel flow to the airplane.Jets take on anywhere from 6,000 to 44,000 gallons of fuel, depending on their size and destination. Most overseas cargo flights require more than 30,000 gallons per airplane, taking about 90 minutes to top off, Gielow said.