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.
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.
As oil prices remain above the $60 per barrel mark, operators, oil companies and government regulators are showing ever more interest in alternative jet fuels. At a March 8 speech at the U.S.
Airliners now entering revenue service will be around for the next few decades, over which time forecasters expect the cost of kerosene to rise significantly. Higher oil extraction costs and likely carbon dioxide (CO2) emission limits will no doubt radically alter air transport economics. The industry will simultaneously have to drastically reduce CO2 emissions from aircraft engines and find alternative fuels for them.
What goes up must come down, unless of course you’re talking about the price of crude oil. Last month, oil topped $55 a barrel after an April report from Goldman Sachs warned of a possible “super spike” period during which the price of oil could surge to as much as $105 a barrel.
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