The Air Force looks for economy at the pump.
- By Mike Harbour
- Air & Space magazine, September 2006
(Page 2 of 2)
By next year, the test aircraft, a B-52H from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, will be flown with all eight of its Pratt & Whitney TF33 turbofan engines burning the synthetic blend. Then it will fly again in cold weather. Once those tests are complete, certification for use throughout the bomber fleet won’t be far off, followed by tests on fighter aircraft.
“Right now, we have an Air Force team working out the strategy for the testing beyond the B-52,” Harrison says. “We’re collaborating with the engine companies that produce the engines for us [and] we will be doing some level of testing both in 2007 and 2008.”
Another benefit of Fischer-Tropsch fuel is lower emissions. Compared to petroleum-based fuel, tests show the synthetic one produces less carbon dioxide, fewer particulates, and no sulfur. That, combined with its lower price, makes the Air Force eager to start filling tankers with the stuff as soon as possible.
Mike Harbour is a freelance writer in Helena, Montana who specializes in transportation subjects.