Friday, April 01, 2011

Air Force jets perform first flyover using alternative fuel

Three of four F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., performed a flyover for the first time using a blend of traditional jet fuel and biofuel. The aircraft were participating in the Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day activities April 1, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff. Sgt. Ted Nichols)

by Jennifer Cassidy, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) - Three F-15E Strike Eagle fighter aircraft performed the Air Force's first flyover using "green" biofuel over Citizen's Bank Park for the Philadelphia Phillies Opening Day activities April 1.

The jets, from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., flew using a 50 percent blend of traditional jet fuel and synthetic biofuel derived from plant oils grown in the northwestern U.S.

"The Air Force is committed to reducing our nation's dependence on foreign petroleum and is pursuing environmentally-friendly, domestically-produced alternative biofuel blends for our entire fleet of manned and unmanned aircraft," said Dr. Kevin Geiss, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for energy.

The Air Force's ongoing biofuel certification efforts are in direct alignment with the president's goals of developing clean fuel technologies while gradually weaning the U.S. off 19th-century fossil fuels, Geiss said.

"If anyone doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil," said President Barack Obama during his March 30 remarks on U.S. energy security. "Already more than half of Brazil's vehicles can run on biofuels. And just last week, our Air Force used an advanced biofuel blend to fly an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed the sound. In fact, the Air Force is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016."

"This flyover demonstrates the Air Force's leadership and commitment to use alternative fuels, allowing the service to collect additional performance and flight information," Geiss added.

The Air Force is testing and evaluating biomass fuels derived from three different feedstocks: camelina (plant seed oil), beef tallow (animal fat) and various waste oils and greases.

To date, the service has tested and certified biofuel as a 50-percent blend with regular jet fuel in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-15 Eagle, the C-17 Globemaster III and the F-22.

The Air Force has fully certified C-17s to fly on the biofuel blend and certification of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the aircraft flown by the Air Force's demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, is imminent, Geiss said. Fleet-wide certification is on track for completion in 2013.

The service's long-term goal, Geiss explained, is to acquire 50 percent of all stateside fuel from domestically-produced alternative blends that are cleaner than fuel produced from conventional petroleum. The fuel must be priced competitively for the Air Force to meet this goal.

The Air Force continues to explore ways of decreasing energy demands and increasing supply through advanced planning tools for air operations, more energy-efficient aircraft technology, "smart" building designs, increased simulator use and the pursuit of alternative and renewable energy sources, Geiss said.