Monday, January 26, 2009

Air Force Changing to Drive Down Fuel Use

I had the privilege of interviewing Kevin Billings a few months ago via DOD PAO's New Media operation when he commented on the Air Force's resolve on reducing its fuel use. Well here he is again, in, describing fuel-driven USAF operational changes in much more detail:
Using techniques such flying more direct routes to their destinations to taxing aircraft on fewer engines or starting engines at later times before takeoff and using simulators far more often, the service has managed to save millions of dollars in energy costs, according to Kevin Billings, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, logistics and environment. “We had a 3-percent reduction in fuel use last year while flying expanded missions,” said Billings during a Jan. 14 interview at the Pentagon. Service officials achieved this by expanding direct routing of aircraft, reducing the weight of aircraft, using simulators and updating maintenance procedures.
Billings also says fuel savings are also possible via better coordination with civilian agencies, like State: 

The service is ... working with the State Department to expedite diplomatic clearances for its aircraft. This would allow the jets to fly much more direct and efficient routes through other nations’ airspace. 

... and the FAA:

[USAF] is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to let its planes to descend on direct glide paths during landing instead of gradually “stepping down,” said the assistant secretary. This will let the Air Force take advantage of new Global Positioning System-based navigation tools that allow more efficient flight patterns while maintaining safety, according to Billings.

This is all good stuff and we need to see more of it. The Air Force has by far the largest energy burden of the 4 services, and uses the vast majority of the fuel. Stay tuned for more ...

Photo: GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) by Wikimedia Commons

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