All Across the Country

The Air Force has flown a C-17 airlifter—burning nothing but a blend of synthetic and aviation fuels in its four engines—from Washington state to New Jersey, marking the first such transcontinental flight. Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and a bunch of energy and airline officials and others, including Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), met the aircraft. The Air Force already has certified the synfuel for use on the B-52 bomber and expects to complete certification for the C-17 fleet early in the New Year. As the largest military consumer of energy—80 percent of which is aviation fuel—the Air Force plans to pursue the use of a synfuel blend for all its aircraft, achieving certification for “every engine and every airframe” by early 2011 and purchasing 50 percent of its fuel requirement from domestically produced synfuel, according to USAF energy guru William Anderson. Some have questioned the practicality of switching to a synfuel blend because there’s no ready source, but Anderson told Pentagon reporters last week that estimates from the marketplace mark 2016 as “about the time that a robust commercial synthetic fuel market may be in significant growth stage.”