Bio-Coaching the Commercial Industry

Despite pioneering alternative fuel certification across USAF’s air fleets, given current low demand in the commercial aviation market, the price of this fuel remains unfeasibly high. “What it would take to get the price of [alternative] fuel down to parity is mostly elements that are outside the span of control of the Air Force,” said Kevin Geiss, USAF’s deputy assistant secretary for energy. The Air Force currently pays roughly $35 per gallon for “test and evaluation volumes” of alternative fuel—10 times the current price of JP-8 aviation fuel. Since commercial aviation accounts for nearly 90 percent of domestic jet fuel consumption, USAF is working to “share information that we’ve gleaned from certification of [our] aircraft,” in the hopes of generating a larger market to drive down the alternative fuel’s cost, Geiss told reporters during a teleconference Wednesday. “The fact that Lufthansa last Friday flew their first commercially scheduled flight on biofuels . . . was basically enabled by the work that we did in the Air Force. The aviation industry writ large would not be where it is today if we had not pursued that,” underscored Geiss.