As the push to certify a full biofuel
by 2013 continues, the US FAA has awarded half a million dollars to the X Prize
foundation to devise a strategy that creates monetary incentives for the development
of alternative fuels.
The foundation awards X Prizes, which can reach $10 million
or more, to the first team achieving a specific goal set by the foundation. In
October 2004 the Mojave Aerospace Ventures team won the $10 million Ansari X prize for SpaceShipOne
developed by Burt Rutan and Mircrosoft
co-founder Paul Allen.
Using the half-million supplied by FAA the X Prize Foundation
over the next 14 months will develop the judgment criteria for the alternative
fuel prize and supervise the fund raising for the actual monetary award. During
a call with reporters earlier today FAA director of the office of environment
and energy Carl Burleson cited the X Prize Foundation’s “real expertise” in
Specifically the X Prize project, which will last from three
to eight years, is focusing on accelerating the development and use of
cost-effective renewable aviation fuels that are favorable for the environment,
and do not create negative side effects such as the displacement of food
In addition to working with other organizations to craft the
alternative fuel development strategy, the X Prize foundation is also teaming
with members of FAA’s Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative on the
The US DOT in February revealed plans to issue a 14-month
contract and supply $25,000-$500,000 in funding to three contractors to build
research roadmaps for integrating alternative fuel incentive programmes into development plans for the FAA
next-generation air transportation system (Nextgen).
FAA’s partnership with the X Prize foundation occurs as
momentum for the development and testing of alternative fuels continues to
build, and as airlines opt to conduct their own research and testing.
British Airways today became the latest carrier to express
an interest in conducting tests, announcing its partnership with engine
manufacturer Rolls-Royse to develop a test programme
examining the viability of alternative fuels for the aviation industry. The
companies are launching a joint tender process for suppliers to offer
alternative fuel samples for testing on a Rolls-Royce RB211 on a BA Boeing 747.
Other carriers planning alternative fuel tests are Air New Zealand during the fourth quarter followed by Continental
Airlines next year. Virgin Atlantic earlier this year conducted a
highly-publicized biofuel test on a Boeing 747 while JetBlue Airways is working with Airbus, Honeywell and
International Aero Engines on a second-generation biofuels
Burleson of FAA says work is continuing for certification of
a synthetic blend alternative fuel this year, followed by 50% biofuel blend in 2010.