Boeing Supports Upcoming Biofuel Powered Flight Of US Navy F/A-18 <


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Boeing Supports Upcoming Biofuel Powered Flight Of US Navy F/A-18

Shane Nolan

April 21, 2010 - Boeing is supporting the U.S. Navy's biofuel-powered flight, scheduled to take place on Earth Day, April 22. An unmodified, Boeing-built F/A-18F Super Hornet will take off from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., powered by a sustainable biofuel blend of 50 percent camelina and 50 percent JP-5 aviation fuel.

Operating Navy platforms with renewable energy sources such as sustainable biofuels is part of the service's strategy to reduce reliance on fossil fuels by half over the next decade, as well as the Secretary of the Navy's broader emphasis on energy-efficiency efforts for the Navy and Marine Corps.

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a 4.5+ generation carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft. The F/A-18E single-seat variant and F/A-18F tandem-seat variant are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm gun and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried with up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.

Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Full-rate production began in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the F-14 Tomcat since 2006, and serves alongside the original Hornet. The Royal Australian Air Force ordered F/A-18F Super Hornets in 2007 to replace its aging F-111 fleet and its first aircraft entered service in March 2010.

Boeing has been assisting the Navy through laboratory testing of fuel properties and engineering evaluations of fuel system compatibility, according to Tim Vinopal, Boeing's environmental chief engineer supporting the Boeing Defense, Space & Security effort.

"We have worked closely with the aviation and fuels industries for several years to provide our customers with options to reduce environmental impact, including the use of sustainable biofuels," Vinopal said. "We are honored to be able to support the U.S. Navy in this groundbreaking renewable-energy effort."

Boeing biofuel testing has included demonstration flights of five commercial aircraft, testing of four engine types, and laboratory testing with various fuel processors, feedstocks, and engine manufacturers to ensure these fuels meet or exceed the high performance and quality standards specified for current aviation fuels, without modification to the engine or airframe. Camelina is one of several promising biofuel crops, as it requires little water or fertilizer and does not compete with food crops.


The company also is helping to create a commercial market for renewable fuels and to guide their approval for use in commercial aviation. "Boeing is applying the significant knowledge we've gained during this sustainable biofuel development effort in support of U.S. Department of Defense specification revisions for military fuels," said Vinopal. "Boeing recognizes the serious challenges facing the global ecosystem and is committed to improving the environmental performance of its operations, products and services."

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.
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