The Air Force opts for synthetic fuel

Business Jet Traveler » February 2008
An Air Force Boeing C-17 recently flew crosscountry powered by a synthetic fu
Friday, February 1, 2008 - 4:00am

Last December 17, 104 years to the day after the Wright Brothers' historic first flight, a U.S. Boeing C-17 Globemaster III accomplished another milestone. The heavy lift cargo jet touched down at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, completing the type's first transcontinental journey using a synthetic fuel blend.

The flight of the unmodified aircraft, described by its chief pilot as "unremarkable," represents an important step in the use of fuel other than petroleum in aviation. "The Air Force is taking a leadership role in testing and certifying the use of synthetic fuel in aircraft," said Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, who vowed to certify the service's entire fleet on synthetic fuel by 2011. The Air Force is the U.S. government's largest fuel consumer.

Based on a chemical process developed in the 1920s, which synthesizes jet fuel from coal or natural gas, the initiative hopes to bring America's other energy resources into play. The program aims to reduce fleet fuel consumption, dependency on foreign oil and environmental impact. With domestic production of the synthetic fuel planned to begin in 2012, aircraft owners may soon have another option when it comes to filling up their tanks.

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“"Many years ago, our company founder, Al Conklin, sold a new twin-engine business aircraft to a very successful entrepreneur. He had established a bit of a rapport with the individual and, after the sale, asked him straight out, 'How can you justify the cost of this airplane?' His reply? 'What is the cost of a divorce?'"–David Wyndham, president, Conklin & de Decker”

-David Wyndham