Even as aircraft engine makers continue their very focused efforts to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, the use of biofuel alternatives to jet-A is an increasingly important facet of the campaign to make air transport more environmentally sustainable. Plans for making biofuels a more mainstream option for operators now account for around half of all the objectives set by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (Acare).
With advocacy groups demanding cleaner air and governments passing more and more stringent engine emissions requirements, aviation has been taking a beating as a prime offender in creating carbon emissions.
Embraer and GE recently held a series of test flights in an E170. The tests, flown out of Embraer’s Gavião Peixoto facilities, benchmarked the operational characteristics of the airplane and its GE CF34-8E engines when powered by HEFA (hydro-processed esters and fatty acids) fuel under a broad range of unique flight conditions.
A revised specification issued by standards organization ASTM International establishes requirements for the use of biofuel blends in conventional jet fuel, facilitating wider use of cleaner-burning “renewable” fuels made from plants.
Civil unrest in the Middle East has pushed up the price of jet fuel by more than 30 percent since December. In response, airlines have increased ticket prices, and some have announced they will begin grounding older, less-efficient aircraft types. While no one knows for sure how long this spike in prices will last, it has prompted many in the industry to turn their attention back to the promise of biofuel.
The alternative aviation fuel industry continues to conduct flight tests to validate the use of new jet-fuel blends. At the end of April, United Airlines became the first U.S. commercial carrier to fly using a certified synthetic-fuel blend that received ASTM approval last year.
Plans by British Airways and U.S. energy solutions company Solena Group to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant–dubbed “GreenSky”–are being outlined here at the Farnborough airshow by the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), which claims to lead the development, testing, environmental acceptance, qualification and deployment of alternative aviation fuels.
Participation by more than 200 American companies at the U.S. International Pavilion here at the Farnborough airshow underscores the strong resurgence of the North American aerospace industry after two years of economic turmoil, organizers and delegates said.
In a bid to bolster the market for alternative fuels, two of the world's largest consumers of jet-A have formed a strategic alliance: the U.S. Air Transport Association and the U.S. Department of Defense. According to ATA president James May, environmental considerations and rising prices for petroleum-based fuel motivated the agreement signed last month.
In a move hailed as a significant advance for the bio- and synthetic fuels market, the Air Transport Association (ATA) and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a strategic alliance agreement on Friday, signaling a partnership in the development and deployment of alternative aviation fuels. The two groups, which represent the vast bulk of jet fuel consumers, have a combined thirst of more than 1.5 million barrels a day.
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