The Federal Aviation Administration has selected a team of universities to lead a new Air Transportation Center of Excellence (COE) that aims to benefit airlines by developing cleaner jet fuels and exploring other ways to meet next-generation air transportation environmental and energy goals.
Led by Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, other core team partners include Boston University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of Dayton, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Washington, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Tennessee.
Research and development efforts by the team will focus on environmental goals for noise, air quality, climate change and energy. Areas of study will include new aircraft technologies and sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels.
The FAA’s COE program is a cost-sharing research partnership between academia, industry and the federal government. The FAA expects to provide this COE with $4 million a year for each of the 10 years of the program.
The COE industry and other organizational partners include: Aerodyne Research, Airbus/EADS, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Cathay Pacific Airways, Clean Energy Trust, CSSI, Delta Air Lines, General Electric Aircraft Engines, Gevo, Gulfstream, Harris Miller Miller & Hanson, Honeywell UOP, InnovaTek, KiOr, LanzaTech, Metron Aviation, NREL – National Bioenergy Center, PNNL, Rolls Royce, Safran, US DoD – AFRL (Wright Patterson Air Force Base), UTRC (Pratt and Whitney), Weyerhaeuser, Wyle Laboratories and ZeaChem.
The FAA has set a target of 1 billion gallons of alternate jet fuel in use by 2018, FAA administrator Michael Huerta says.
The FAA has established COEs with more than 75 universities conducting research and education in nine other topic areas focusing on: commercial space transportation, airliner cabin environment and intermodal research, aircraft noise and aviation emissions mitigation, advanced materials, general aviation, airworthiness assurance, operations research, airport pavement and airport technology, and computational modeling of aircraft structures.
A report published last week ranked Alaska Airlines No. 1 in fuel efficiency while Allegiant Air is the least fuel-efficient and generates the most greenhouse gas emissions to provide a comparable level of service, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.
Alaska Airlines has reduced its carbon footprint intensity by 30 percent (measured by revenue passenger miles) since 2004. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air began flying multiple biofuel blend-powered passenger flights in 2011.