Aviation will become greener in small steps rather than the giant leaps hoped
With oil prices and financial markets so unstable, one could easily assume that global warming and alternative fuels are far from the minds of most aircraft operators. However, achieving sustainable growth in the aviation industry was the focus of a recent “Greener by Design” lecture hosted by London’s Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).
Jet Aviation president Peter Edwards said it’s still too early “to call the market bottom,” but he pointed to positive signs emanating from nearly all corners of the industry as an indicator that perhaps the worst of the economic downturn is over.
Honeywell Aerospace is gearing up for biofuel tests on its APUs and engines this summer in a bid to stay ahead of the alternative fuel push. But this kind of testing isn’t entirely foreign at the company–over the past few years it has been running military aircraft APUs and engines on jet fuel made from coal and natural gas for the U.S. Air Force.
Williams International last month completed extended testing of a coal-based, alternative fuel in an FJ44-3 engine. Two thousand gallons of the synthetic fuel powered the turbofan for 118 cycles over 21 hours. According to Williams, the fuel, which was developed by a team at Penn State University with help from Intertek-PARC and Duquesne University, performed well.
FBO Cleveland Jet Center at Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Airport has added jet-A and avgas supplied by Avfuel to its list of services. Renovated facilities at the FBO include a 34,000-sq-ft office building fronted by a porte-cochere entrance and a 25,000-sq-ft heated hangar. When the weather is warm, customers can hone their skills on an outdoor putting green, and in the winter a heated waiting area
As concern for the environment gathers urgency, a number of manufacturers are studying the use of biofuels, which they consider a low-CO2 alternative to petroleum-based fuels.
Continental Airlines today became the first North American airline to demonstrate the use of sustainable biofuel to power a commercial aircraft when one of its Boeing 737-800s took off from George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport shortly after noon local time fueled in part with algae and jatropha oil.
Sparta, N.J.-based business aviation consultancy Brian Foley Associates last month said it believes the business jet market will recover sooner than previous estimates, despite “being nowhere near the bottom” of the current market cycle.