The US Department of Agriculture has teamed up with the FAA on a five-year MoU aimed at developing biofuels in the USA for use in aviation.
For full details, take a look at the USDA press release or read agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack’s speech unveiling the agreement, in which he says that the USDA and the FAA “will work together with the airline industry over the next five years to develop appropriate feedstocks that can be most efficiently processed into jet fuel”.
The next Environment Special Report in Flight International magazine (23 November issue) will examine hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel, which could be certified for commercial use by an ASTM subcommittee early next month, so look out for that.
While these are all positive steps towards making the use of biofuel in aviation a reality, I’m constantly reminded by experts in this field that massive amounts of investment will be needed to scale-up production of alternative fuels to the levels needed for commercial use.
Hopefully, if certification happens next month investment will start to flow in. That’s certainly the hope of Richard Altman from the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), who told me recently that 2011 will be “a critical year for initial investment in production programmes”.