When he left his vice president slot at the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) earlier this year to become senior vice president of government and technical affairs at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Andrew Cebula had to change his point of view along with the alphabet initials on his business card.
In certain oil-rich regions of Russia and its federated republics, natural gas is so abundant that it is treated as a waste product of the crude-oil extraction process. Anxious to cash in on whatever technological opportunities that beckoned, engineers from the Mil design bureau developed a variant of the Mi-8 helicopter that used natural gas as a fuel.
When you pull up to the gas pump in your car, you probably don’t think much about what is in your fuel. Perhaps you try to find a certain brand based on the fuel card in your pocket, but usually price is the primary factor. What about when you’re fueling your aircraft? Most corporate aircraft pilots and operators are aware of the fuel system icing inhibitors (FSII) and biocides available as additives for jet-A and jet-A1.
Business and general aviation will likely be “slow adopters” of alternative fuel unless they have significant incentive, such as price, according to Frost & Sullivan research analysts.
Airbus and Shell recently made the first ever commercial flight using liquid fuel processed from gas when an A380 airliner flew from Filton in the UK to the airframer’s Toulouse, France headquarters. The flight marked the start of a program to evaluate the environmental impact of alternative fuels in the airline market.
The December nonstop coast-to-coast flight of an Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III using a synthetic fuel blend, the first for the type, is the latest indicator that such fuels are moving toward widespread acceptance in the aviation industry.
Synthetic fuel seems to be the new Holy Grail of air transport. The prospect of oil reserve depletion, the need to curb CO2 emissions and energy security concerns are all encouraging the industry to find a viable alternative to the current jet-A1 kerosene that can be used in current engines.
General Electric’s research arm and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (Darpa) have joined forces to develop an entirely bio-based jet fuel to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The main challenge is to make the conversion process efficient. The project envisions a conversion efficiency, by energy content, of crop oil to JP-8 surrogate of between 60 and 85 percent.
The Federal Aviation Administration is to leverage the U.S. Air Force’s experience with synthetic fuel, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said here on Tuesday during a press conference. Under the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), the FAA is studying solutions to replace today’s Jet-A1 kerosene. Looked for are fuels with smaller carbon dioxide (CO2) footprints. The results of two studies are due this September.
In a nod to increasing concerns about the environmental impact of aircraft, CFM International has successfully tested one of its engines fueled by a mix of biofuel and normal Jet-A1 kerosene.The company said the target is for a 20-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.