May 1, 2008  

Fuel for thought

TO THE AIR FORCE, for its pioneering work in developing synthetic fuel for aircraft. The fuel, a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and a synthetic fuel derived from natural gas, was created by an Air Force research team and has been successfully tested on a B-52 Stratofortress. In March, a B-1B Lancer became the Air Force’s first aircraft to fly supersonic using synfuel. Plans are to certify every plane in the Air Force inventory for synfuel operation by 2011. The Federal Aviation Administration has honored the Air Force with its Excellence in Aviation Research Award for the work, which will spin off into the commercial aviation world and help offset global oil price and environmental concerns. But the Air Force’s No. 1 quest is to find a source of domestically produced, assured fuels which would allow it to perform its national defense mission if overseas petroleum sources were threatened. That’s smart thinking.