Mobility Air Forces Airmen shoulder success of fuel conservation efforts
by By Capt. Kathleen Ferrero
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
10/24/2011 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Experienced marathon athletes are rarely haphazard about running. From the morning's breakfast ingredients to stretching minutes before they start, marathon performance relies heavily on controlled efficiency.
Similarly, air mobility performance increasingly relies on controlled fuel efficiency. As the Air Force's largest user of aviation fuel, Mobility Air Forces Airmen extend their range farther and faster than any other air force in the world to provide global reach to those in need.
New policies hone the essential amount of takeoff fuel so aircraft do not have excess weight, officials said. Ingenuity has also paved the way for more sophisticated aircraft taxiing and takeoff routines, more efficient cargo loading, more streamlined aircraft exteriors to reduce drag and new ways to optimize aircraft paths in flight to conserve fuel.
These initiatives are just a handful of more than 70 in motion, but they would be useless without the maintainers, aerial porters and aircrew members who step forward to help out, said Col. Bobby Fowler, the director of Air Mobility Command's Fuel Efficiency Office.
"While our goal is to increase everyday effectiveness of what we do on a daily basis, we give aircrews the ability to be more efficient while doing it," Fowler said.
For example, mobility Airmen are required to participate in a fuel-tracking system that logs sortie specific details to include fuel amounts before takeoff and after landing, he said. Although the tracker's current manual logging system can be time consuming and perceived as tedious, more than 90 percent of mobility Airmen participate.
The fuel tracker data allows FEO officials to compare projected fuel savings with actual fuel savings and adjust accordingly. "We'd particularly like to get more participation with crews using mission index flying as it's coming on-line," he said.
Mission index flying officially became available in the summer of 2011 for all who fly MAF C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, he said. It's scheduled to become available for KC-10 Extenders and KC-135 Stratotankers later this year. It is a software-based program that allows crews to adjust flight profiles in real-time to maximize fuel efficiency.
With the C-17s, FEO officials expect a 1.25 to 1.5 percent decrease in fuel consumption, said Lt. Col. Marc Gildner, from the FEO. "It doesn't seem like much, but because Mobility Air Forces use almost 60 percent of the total Air Force fuel inventory, that savings amounts to a considerable dollar figure which can be used to recapitalize the aging fleet, support fuel efficiency initiatives and provide resources for incentives."
While the ingenuity and hard work of aircraft maintainers, aerial porters and aircrews build an energy-secure future for the Air Force, the bottom line remains the mission.
"We will do whatever it takes to support the warfighter, no matter what," Fowler said. "It is about getting the Soldier what he needs in the most effective manner possible."
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