At the start of 2009, Flightglobal - with the help of experts in the field - made several forecasts plotting the likely developments and achievements of those pioneering the use of alternative fuels in aviation. Here is our report on progress so far.
We predicted: an intensified focus on aviation as a "first mover" for bio-derived liquid hydrocarbon fuels driven by the US Air Force, independent of any short-lived fuel price reductions. What has happened? The USAF initiated a biofuels programme in January and is now procuring 1.5 million litres (400,000USgal).
We predicted: high levels of activity on alternative fuels on both sides of the Atlantic by the major international specification groups - ASTM in the USA and the UK Ministry of Defence's DEFSTAN group. What has happened? In the USA, ASTM is starting the balloting process ultimately to pass a new fuel D-XXXX specification by the end of this year.
We predicted: broad feedstock-centric research roadmaps and programmes to ensure biofuel supply development is co-ordinated between aviation, agriculture and renewable fuel interests. What has happened? In March, US Federal Aviation Administration chief scientist Dr Lourdes Maurice passed on the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative's (CAAFI) research and development roadmaps to the US House of Representatives' Science and Technology committee along with Fuel Readiness Level scales tracking development, approval and commercialisation.
We predicted: growth and alignment of initiatives outside the USA with CAAFI via European Union research and development programmes and International Civil Aviation Organisation workshops. What has happened? ICAO initiated this in February alongside the launch of the EU initiative SWAFEA.
We predicted: consensus on an environmental framework for civil aircraft using analysis tools developed by the USAF and regulators together with key universities in consultation with environmental groups and potential producers and processes with a focus on calculating lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions. What has happened? This is in peer review.
We predicted: quantification of particulate reduction benefits for alternative and sustainable biofuels. What has happened? This is an ongoing project by the US aviation research initiative Partner out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the FAA.
We predicted: the launch of an airport handbook produced by the Airport Cooperative Research Program to facilitate airport/airline/distributor/fuel supplier costs and benefits. What has happened? It is under peer review.