By golly, the B-52 loaded up with a 50-50 blend of traditional jet fuel and a coal-derived alternative in two of its eight engines flew Tuesday with no ill effects. Flying in the bomber with the mission crew during the test was Air Force Undersecretary Ronald Sega, who said the flight “sets the stage” for USAF’s “more comprehensive” conservation plan. The coal-based Fischer-Tropsch fuel is just one of many possible aircraft fuel alternatives under study. Within a few months, the Air Force plans to fly a B-52 operating with Fischer-Tropsch fuel in all eight engines.
When the Air Force sets a new program baseline for the B-52 re-engining this fall, there will be “some” cost increase, because the project wasn't previously fully funded, and the Air Force has a better handle on actual supplier costs and knowledge from ground testing, program officials said.