Flying high with aviation biofuels

A private-public partnership is working to bring biofuels to the airline industry. Called “Farm to Fly,” the 2-year-old initiative is based on a partnership between the USDA and Boeing.

If all goes well, the partners believe that the development of aviation biofuel in the United States has a huge upside that could increase domestic energy security, establish regional supply chains for the biofuel, and create more income opportunities for farmers.

The airline industry backs this plan, because they are seeking ways to reduce emissions and fuel costs. As Boeing, which manufactures 75% of the world’s aircraft, builds more fuel efficient planes, the introduction of biofuel could lead to a 60% reduction in aviation emissions.

However, there are a couple of obstacles to overcome before aviation biofuel can become a reality. The fuel must be able to be used in current airplane engines without significant modification. It must also be sustainable, so the partnership is looking at various sources that would not take too much from the world’s food and water supply.

If the “Farm to Fly” program can get these issues worked out, the demand is there. Several airlines and the Department of Defense have expressed interest in switching to biofuel.

If they can get the wrinkles ironed out, “Farm to Fly” is an interesting program that could have many benefits, including giving a boost to agriculture, which is always a good thing.

Flying high with aviation biofuels

By Mike Wilson, Farm Futures

It’s not often you can connect rural America with a world full of jetliners, but that’s exactly what’s happening with a two-year-old public-private initiative called “Farm to Fly.”

Airlines for America, the industry trade association for several U.S. airlines, along with USDA and industry giant Boeing, say the Farm to Fly program will accelerate the availability of a commercially viable and sustainable aviation biofuel industry in the United States. The initiative would increase domestic energy security, establish regional supply chains for aviation biofuel, and support rural development.

When pigs fly, right? Actually, there’s a lot of support for the idea – and most is coming from the airline industry.

John Tracy, Chief Technology Officer and senior VP of engineering for Boeing, says a robust aviation biofuels market will have other benefits, including potential new crop demand and rural infrastructure, depending on the feedstock that is used for aviation biofuel.

And since 75% of the world’s fleet comes from Boeing factories, Tracy seems to be the right guy to be out there cheerleading this concept. Read more …


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