Air Mobility Command has spent some $1.4 billion over the past 10 years to buy new aircraft simulators and upgrade old ones—all with an eye toward fuel economy. The command expects to be able to cut more than 270,000 flight hours over the next 6.5 years, saving about $2.3 billion in fuel and general wear and tear. Still that is not all AMC is doing to curb rising fuel costs. Taking a page from commercial airline operations, the command is engaging an automatic data reporting system on each of its transport aircraft to feed flight information via satellite to the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB, Ill. The aim is to get a better handle on actual fuel consumption vs. the flight plan. TACC personnel also are working with foreign airspace authorities to ensure AMC aircraft fly the shortest routes possible. Lt. Col. Jim Rubush, chief of the TACC diplomatic clearance shop, said his folks saved $46 million in aircraft utilization costs, including fuel, last year.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.