C-5 Flies with Synthetic Fuel

A C-5A transport with the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 164th Airlift Wing took to the skies over Memphis earlier this week for the first time running on a synthetic fuel blend in two flight tests meant to clear the C-5 fleet to operate with this alternative fuel mix. In the first flight on Jan. 13, only one of the aircraft’s four General Electric TF-39 engines ran on the blend, which is a 50-50 mix of traditional JP-8 jet fuel and synthetic paraffinic kerosene. On the following day, this new fuel powered all four of the C-5A’s engines. “The raw data look good,” wing spokeswoman Maj. Kris Jones told the Daily Report yesterday, in discussing the flights. The same C-5A from the wing’s total complement of nine was used in both tests, she said. The Air Guard unit operates from Memphis International Airport. The Air Force intends to certify its entire aircraft fleet to operate on the JP-8-SPK fuel by 2011. Service officials have said using this mix will help to reduce US dependence on foreign sources of energy especially since SPK, which is derived today from natural gas, could also be wrought in the future from coal, of which the US has an abundant supply. So far, the Air Force has certified the B-1B, B-52H, and C-17 for full operations with the synthetic blend. The F-15, F-22, and KC-135 have also flown with it in tests, but have not yet been cleared for full operations, the Daily Report confirmed yesterday with Air Force spokesman Gary Strasburg. (For more, read yesterday’s Memphis Commercial Appeal report.)