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US airforce checked out for synthi-fuel by 2011

What will you do after the war, skipper?

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The US Air Force (USAF) is already well known for its wish to be free of dependence on oil imported from suspect overseas dictatorships. Ultimately, the plan appears to be for the USAF's mighty aerial armadas to run on fungus or algae-based biofuels, but in the nearer future the Yankee airmen would be happy with any kind of domestically-sourced alternative.

Now, however, the USAF has set a hard target, seeking to have its entire fleet certified to run on synthetic fuel blend by 2011.

The blend in question would be a 50-50 mix of regular petroleum-derived jet juice and synthetic stuff made out of coal. America has lots of coal.

Just four years might seem like an ambitious timetable, but in fact USAF experts believe that no modifications to aircraft will be necessary. This is purely a safety and testing issue.

"Currently every test indicates that jet engines can fly on a blend of synthetic and standard fuel... and it can be done with no modifications and no impact," said senior airforce bigwig William Anderson, briefing reporters last Wednesday.

A test programme is underway, and various aircraft have already flown powered by different kinds of arti-fuel. Further flights are to follow, and jet engines will then be pulled apart and examined for any signs of ill effects.

More coverage from Aviation Week here. ®

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