U.S. Navy completes biofuel aircraft test No. 7

| October 06, 2011

If advanced biofuels test flights were any indication of a U.S. department’s commitment and determination to use renewable fuels, the U.S. Navy would be winning. In the span of two months, the Navy has run test flights using camelina-based jet fuel in several different aircrafts. Although the test flight of the MQ-8B Fire Scout was only the most recent in the long line of tests, the Navy did achieve something it hadn’t previously done when it successfully tested the first unmanned aircraft at Webster Field in St. Inigoes, Md.

The flight marked a significant milestone for the Navy, said Rear Admiral Bill Shannon, program executive officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons, who pointed out the significance of the first flight using an unmanned aircraft. “I am very pleased we can add MQ-8B to the list of successful bioflights completed at Pax River this year, bringing us one step closer to achieving the Navy’s energy goals.”

In addition to the Fire Scout, the Navy recently tested the T-45 training aircraft and the MV-22 Osprey, both in August. With the successful flight of the Fire Scout, the total of aircrafts tested using a camelina-based jet fuel is now at seven. The Fire Scout in particular is designed to operate from all air-capable ships, according to the Navy.

The reason for all the test flights is to ensure the Navy will meets its goal of creating the Great Green Fleet, made up of vehicles and aircraft that utilize a blend of 50/50 renewable jet fuel, all in an effort to cut the Navy’s use of foreign-based fossil oil in half by 2025. “Our commitment to the aggressive test schedule for drop-in replacement fuels for JP-5 and F-76 keep us on pace for the 2012 demonstration and 2016 deployment of the Great Green Fleet,” according to Rear Admiral Phil Cullom, director of the chief of naval operations energy and environmental readiness division.

Along with camelina-based biofuel, the Navy has also used, and is in the process of confirming  the  performance of, 4,000 gallons of algae-based biofuel, HRD-76, recently brought to the Naval Academy’s Waterfront Readiness Department , to fuel yard patrol craft.