NASA and Germany’s aerospace research centre DLR are to undertake joint test flights to evaluate the environmental impact of different biofuel blends.
The organisations have made plans for a two-week flight test programme from Edwards AFB in California in May. This will involve NASA’s McDonnell Douglas DC-8 “Airborne Science Laboratory” and DLR’s Dassault Falcon 20E.
The DC-8 is undergoing modifications so that one its four CFM International CFM56-2C1 engines can run on synthetic alternative fuels, DLR says.
DLR’s Falcon, primarily used as an atmospheric research aircraft, will trail the DC-8 to determine any differences in the emissions and build-up of condensation trails.
Further co-operation with NASA over the coming years is planned as part of a DLR project focused on “emissions and climate impact of alternative fuels”, says the research institute based in Braunschweig, near Hannover.
NASA’s DC-8 (N817NA) was manufactured in 1969 and initially delivered to Alitalia, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows. The aircraft's original Pratt & Whitney JT3D engines were replaced by CFM56s in 1986.
Meanwhile, DLR is completing construction of a test cell for next-generation gas turbine engines at its site in Gottingen. The facility – which DLR says is unique – will allow scientists to test new equipment such as turbine blades and cooling systems, as well as materials for engines ranging from small business jet powerplants up to large turbofans.
The site is to be opened in the spring of 2014.