Getting There

The Air Force is well on its way to meeting a chief energy goal, having cleared all but four of its aircraft types to run unconstrained on the 50-50 blend of traditional JP-8 aviation fuel and synthetic paraffinic kerosene. Only the MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted vehicles, UH-1 Huey helicopter, and CV-22 tiltrotor platform remain, Jeff Braun, USAF’s alternative fuels certification office director, tells the Daily Report. Several years ago, the Air Force set the goal of certifying its entire fleet to operate on this fuel blend by 2011 as a means of bolstering US energy independence. SPK is derived today from natural gas using the Fischer-Tropsch refining process, but there is also the potential for it to come from coal, of which the US has abundant supply. Braun said the Air Force expects UH-1 certification this month, followed by the Global Hawk in spring 2011, and the Reaper next summer. The Air Force continues to pursue joint certification of the CV-22 with the Navy, he noted.