The Navy showcased a flight test of the Green Hornet, an F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet powered by a 50:50 biofuel blend, on Earth Day, 22 April.
The aircraft flew exactly as we expected—no surprises. The fuel works so well, all I needed to do was just fly the plane.
—Lt. Cmdr. Tom Weaver, F/A-18 project officer for Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 and pilot for the Earth Day flight test
|Flight of the Green Hornet. Click to enlarge.|
The test, conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., drew hundreds of onlookers, including Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who has made the exploration and adoption of alternative fuels a priority for the Navy and Marine Corps.
The Green Hornet runs on a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel and a synthetic paraffinic kerosene derived from camelina. The Defense Energy Support Center, which oversees procurement of biofuel for the Navy, recently awarded a $2.7 million contract to Sustainable Oils of Seattle and Bozeman, Mont., for 40,000 gallons of camelina-based fuel, produced using Honeywell UOP’s process. (Earlier post.)
The Navy’s ultimate goal is to develop protocols to certify alternative fuels for use in its aircraft and ships.
Our mission today and for the rest of the flight tests is to confirm that the fuel makes no difference in performance across the Super Hornet’s entire flight envelope, from subsonic to supersonic operations. Preliminary results show there was no difference in engine ops attributable to the biofuel. Engine performance is normal and as expected.
—Mark Swierczek, Naval Air Systems Command propulsion flight test engineer
The Navy Fuels Lab at Patuxent River is developing certification standards for a variety of renewable, alternative fuel sources.
The Green Hornet biofuel program is the first aviation test program to test and evaluate the performance of a 50:50 biofuel blend in supersonic (above mach 1) operations—a critical test point to successfully clear the F/A-18 E/F for biofuel operations through its entire flight envelope. Once successfully demonstrated on the F/A-18 F414 engine, the Navy will expand its certification efforts to other Navy and Marine Corps aircraft and Navy tactical systems.