A-10C Thunderbolt II Jet Aircraft, First
Aircraft To Use Alcohol Based Fuel
July 3, 2012 - On Thursday, the 40th Flight Test
Squadron made history flying the first aircraft
to use a new fuel blend derived from alcohol.
"The A-10 is the first aircraft ever to fly on
this fuel," said Jeff Braun, Chief for the Air
Force Alternative Fuel Certification Division,
at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
"It flew like a usual A-10 would without any
issues," said Maj. Olivia Elliott, an A-10 pilot
and an evaluator for the mission. The fuel,
known as ATJ (Alcohol-to-Jet) is the third
alternative fuel to be evaluated by the Air
Force for fleet wide use as a replacement for
standard petroleum derived JP-8 aviation fuel.
Before ATJ, other alternative fuels included a
synthetic paraffinic kerosene derived from coal
and natural gas and a bio-mass fuel derived from
plant-oils and animal fats known as
Hydroprocessed Renewable Jet.
ATJ is a cellulousic-based fuel. It can be
derived using wood, paper, grass, anything that
is a cell-based material. The sugars extracted
from these materials are fermented into
alcohols, which are then hydro-processed into
the aviation-grade kerosenes used for aviation
An A-10C Thunderbolt II takes off from
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., June 28, 2012,
marking the first flight of an aircraft powered
solely by a alcohol-derived jet fuel blend. ATJ,
or Alcohol to Jet, is a cellulousic-based fuel.
It can be derived using wood, paper, grass,
anything that is a cell-based material. The
sugars extracted from these materials are
fermented into alcohols, which are then
hydro-processed into the aviation-grade
kerosenes used for aviation fuel.
The Fischer-Tropsch SPK blend has been fully
certified by the Air Force for operational use
throughout the Air Force. All testing of the
bio-mass HRJ has been completed and formal
coordination is underway to certify it as an
approved fuel agent. Like ATJ, the bio-mass fuel
was first tested by 40th FLTS in 2010, using the
same A-10 test platform.
"The A-10 is an excellent platform for testing
the new fuel due in part to its segregated fuel
system," said Capt. Joseph Rojas, A-10 test
engineer. "The system allows one engine to run
off a fuel supply that is completely segregated
from the other engine. This allows us to fly
with one engine on the new fuel and the other on
traditional fuel. If engine operation is normal,
as with the ATJ blend, then we progress to
flying with both engines on the new fuel."
The A-10 ATJ fuel test went through similar
ground and flight tests, using a mixture of the
alternative fuel and the standard Air Force
JP-8. Ground-based testing included monitoring
engine performance and ensuring all data
correlated favorably to both the technical
requirements and JP-8 fuel specification. Flight
tests included analyzing aircraft performance
during controlled accelerations and climbs and