AN-32 of IAF to fly on blended biodiesel for 200 hours

Jinen Gada

17 Sep 2022

In a significant move, the fleet of AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was certified to fly on blended aviation fuel containing up to 10 per cent bio-jet fuel.

This move comes as a part of efforts to reduce carbon footprint, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking to fly an AN-32 transport aircraft modified to operate on 10% blended biodiesel for 200 hours in the next six months, said Air Vice Marshal (AVM) S.K. Jain, Assistant Chief of Air Force.

The IAF AN-32 took flight on biodiesel blended with aviation turbine fuel (ATF) for the first time in December 2018.

IAF officials said the biofuel, to be used by the AN-32 fleet, would be produced from tree-borne oils (TBOs) sourced from tribal areas.

Biodiesel is a domestically produced, clean-burning, renewable substitute for petroleum diesel. Using biodiesel as a vehicle fuel increases energy security, improves air quality and the environment, and provides safety benefits.

"So far an AN-32 has flown 65 hours with a 10% blend of biofuel and the performance has been very satisfactory.The target is to fly 200 flight hours, which should happen within the next six months"AVM Jain said at a seminar.

An aviation biofuel or bio-jet-fuel or bio-aviation fuel (BAF) is a biofuel used to power aircraft and is said to be a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The International Air Transport Association (IATA) considers it a key element in reducing the carbon footprint within the environmental impact of aviation.

On the way forward, AVM Jain added that there was scope for increasing the blend ratio to 50-50% and also stressed the need for mass production of biodiesel.

Aviation biofuel could help decarbonize medium- and long-haul air travel generating most emissions, and could extend the life of older aircraft types by lowering their carbon footprint.

The global aviation industry, both civil and military, is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases which cause global warming. It is imperative that the industry finds ways to reduce its carbon footprint for global efforts to achieve 'net zero emissions' to be successful.

ALSO READ - HAL signs contract with Honeywell for 88 engines for HTT-40 basic trainer aircraft

A second aircraft, a Dornier, is currently undergoing ground tests after which it will undertake its first flight. The Dornier had been cleared by the original engine manufacturer of the engine, Honeywell, for use of 50% biofuel.

The plan is eventually to expand the usage of aviation turbine fuel blended with biodiesel to all fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft through evaluation and certification. Such usage has the dual benefit of reducing carbon footprint as well as reducing the usage of fossil fuels, which will also result in savings for the IAF.

Read next

Boeing looking for new buyers for Chinese rejected B737 MAXs

Jinen Gada

17 Sep 2022

Boeing officials said on Thursday that they will find new buyers for Boeing 737 Max jets that were built for Chinese airlines but can't be delivered because China's aviation regulator has not cleared the plane to fly after two deadly crashes.

Boeing hopes the move will reduce its inventory of undelivered Max jets, which built up while the planes were grounded around the world.

However, the decision risks adding to the tension between the aircraft manufacturer and China, which was once Boeing's biggest market for the Max.

Boeing had 290 undelivered 737s in inventory as of June 30, with about half of them earmarked for China, company officials said.

Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft had run into regulatory trouble in different countries after a string of accidents, resulting in the aircraft being banned. Seventeen regulators in various countries had lifted the ban since then, and China was the only country still yet to budge.

Boeing's hopes were raised last December when China's aviation regulator took a major step toward letting airlines resume using the Max. In February, Chinese airlines ran flight tests.

But the Civil Aviation Administration of China has not taken the final steps to allow Max flights and deliveries to resume, which Boeing officials blame on COVID-19 lockdowns. China is the last major market where the Max is still awaiting approval to fly.

Boeing expects the commercial aviation services market in China is worth USD 1.8 trillion.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approved changes Boeing made to the plane in late 2020, and regulators in Europe, Canada and Brazil have followed suit.

China is an important market for Boeing, and it estimates that Chinese airlines will likely require 8,700 new airplanes by 2040 that could be worth USD 1.47 trillion. By Boeing’s projections, Chinese demand for widebody airplanes could make up 20% of its global deliveries by 2040.

ALSO READ - Chinese airlines orders 292 Airbus A320neo aircraft

The importance of the Chinese market to Boeing was underscored in July when China's three largest airlines ordered nearly 300 planes from its European rival Airbus.

Read next

Two aerospace companies, Two different strategies

Jinen Gada

17 Sep 2022

The Boeing and Airbus Companies are the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial and military jetliners. The companies date back to 1916 and 1969 respectively. Boeing being in operation for a long time had experienced a long period of monopoly in the manufacture of large commercial jetliners.

The companies in their attempts to outdo each other used different strategies of flight with Boeing adopting a point-to-point strategy while Airbus adopted a hub-to-hub strategy.

The Boeing Company was founded by William Boeing in 1916 in Seattle, Washington. It is an American Multinational aerospace dealing with the manufacture of commercial jetliners as well as military aircraft. The company has a market for its products and support services in 150 countries all over the world.

The end goal of both companies is to build the best and safest flying transportation possible.

On the other hand, Airbus founded on May 29, 1969, by Jean Chamant and Karl Schiller deals with the manufacture of military airlifters and commercial jetliners. The company has its headquarters in Toulouse France and other places in Germany, Netherlands, and United Kingdom. The company has sixteen sites in four European countries.

Boeing airline’s vision is “people working together as a global enterprise for aerospace leadership” while that of Airbus is the production of aerospace that are eco-efficient and environmentally friendly. The difference in the visions makes the two companies have disparities in their operation.

In the analysis of the strategies used by the two companies, Boeing point-to-point flight refers to means of flight where travellers do not change their planes during their travels. In addition, the point-to-point flight may refer to a nonstop flight from the place of origin to the destination.

Boeing Company also uses its innovation in design, manufacturing, operations and fleet support.

The connection of secondary towns by Boeing means that the passengers would take flights from their point of origin to their point of destination non-stop or else without a change of planes.

Whereas, the hub-to-hub strategy used by Airbus Company involves the change of planes or routes to take the passengers to their destination. The strategy is usually applicable in airports that do not have direct route connectivity. The passengers may change the plane or even the route to their destination.

The two strategies are very different as the point-to-point strategy creates a direct connection between the place of origin and the destination while the hub-to-hub uses airline hubs in connecting the place of origin, and the passenger intended destination.

Airbus's vision is the production of aerospace that are eco-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Point-to-point flight strategy allows connections to multiple destinations. This ensures that passengers travelling from one destination to the other use less time as they do not have to use a hub to connect to their destination. The strategy saves time as compared to the hub-to-hub strategy. The strategy is also cost-effective as it reduces the cost of flight expenses due to reduced distances.

The direct connection between the cities shortens the distance travelled. This makes the costs incurred in fuelling and other flight expenses reduce and that consequently reduces the flight charges. The other advantage of the strategy is that it is reliable and efficient to the passengers as it assures them of reaching their destination without a change of planes or travel companies.

The strategy also offers the passengers comfort during their travel. The shortening of the travel distances reduces the time spent on the flight which consequently reduces tiredness, which makes the passengers comfortable during their travel.

The release of the Boeing 787 which had a capacity of about 210 to 290 passengers increased competition.

The point-to-point strategy also helps in reducing congestion in the airports that act as airline hubs through the provision of opportunities by the strategy to bypass the hubs.

This further makes the airline hubs run effectively. Point-to-point services also give the passengers convenient schedule choices as they do not depend on the times allocated for the plane connection as in the hub-to-hub strategy.

On the other hand, the method has a drawback in that it is less efficient, especially between routes with few passengers. This causes most airlines to find it difficult in their application. Further, this causes the strategy to be only applicable to small and medium-sized airplanes.

Hub-to-hub strategy has its pros where the method is efficient for routes with few passengers. The airlines can connect and interchange the passengers, which makes the airlines use this strategy to have enough passengers for their trips. The method is thus applicable to large airplanes. This ensures that airlines reduce the cost of flight expenses thus becoming more economical.

However, the strategy has cons in that it is time-consuming. The use of hubs makes the distance travelled by the planes longer as they have to stop at different destinations. In addition, the change of planes and routes also consumes a lot of time thus making the strategy inefficient. The strategy is tiresome due to long-hour travels that make it unreliable.

The strategy is also expensive as the costs incurred by the plane such as fuels cost are huge and affect the flight charges. The strategy is also unreliable as the use of airline hubs may cause delays in case of an emergency or climatic changes at the hub point. This makes the passengers change their arrival times or even days depending on the impact of the effects.

The new model A350 had a capacity of 270-350 passengers that was mainly meant to compete with the Boeing 787.

The use of these two models led to stiff competition in the air market with Boeing concentrating on both minor and major airports while Airbus only concentrated on major airports.

The difference in airports and route concentration made Boeing a competitive advantage over its competitor as its plane model could be accommodated in many airports. The two companies also produced fuel-efficient airplanes which made both companies more competitive.

Currently, Airbus holds half of the aerospace market due to its improvement in products that are both environmental and economically friendly to the users. Similarly, in its operation in the airline industry, the company has adopted a two-way strategy to ensure they take the full competitive advantage.

The company applies both the point-to-point and hub-to-hub strategies that were made possible due to the introduction of the Airbus A380 and A350. The company uses A380 for hub-to-hub strategy and Airbus A350 for point-to-point strategy. This has helped the company to dominate the market which led to its tremendous market growth.

The Airbus A380 a double-deck airliner with a capacity of over 500 passengers brought competition to the air market, as it could carry many passengers at once.

On the other hand, Boeing holds one-third of the total aerospace market. The company’s use of one strategy has given Airbus Company the advantage to penetrate most of the markets.

Competition between the two companies helps in the advancement of the aerospace and airline industry. The companies should focus on challenging each other in the manufacturing as well as in the airline industry but ensure that they do not expose each other to risks.

The two companies being the main competitors should not view each other as a threat but should work together through innovative programs and technology advancement research that would help them to experience more growth in their field.

This will consequently ensure that the customers have quality products as well as ensure that the company's competition is healthy. The companies should also focus on making their training programs more extensive for the airline industry to help in the improvement of services and efficiency.

Read next

FedEx grounds aircraft; reduces the frequency of freighter flights due to revenue shortfall

Radhika Bansal

17 Sep 2022

FedEx has temporarily grounded some cargo aircraft and reduced the frequency of freighter flights in response to a slowdown in global demand for package deliveries.

The Tennessee-based shipping and logistics company said on September 15 that “macroeconomic weakness in Asia and service challenges in Europe” led to a first-quarter revenue shortfall of about USD 500 million for the company’s air delivery service FedEx Express.

FedEx’s response has been a “reduction in flight frequencies and temporarily parking aircraft”, the company says without disclosing more details.

FedEx grounds aircraft; reduces the frequency of freighter flights due to revenue shortfall

The move follows years of significant growth for the broader air cargo market. FedEx and competitor UPS specialise in carrying express packages, a segment benefiting from the rapid growth of e-commerce, particularly during the pandemic. 

FedEx’s revenue from its ground-shipping division was also down about USD 300 million, relative to its forecast, for the three months ending August 31 2022.

Chief Executive Raj Subramaniam, who took over in June, said he was taking actions to reduce costs including freezing hiring, closing 90 FedEx Office locations, parking some cargo aircraft, reducing Sunday ground operations and closing five corporate offices. FedEx didn’t say if it was cutting its workforce.

“Global volumes declined as macroeconomic trends significantly worsened later in the quarter, both internationally and in the US. We are swiftly addressing these headwinds, but given the speed at which conditions shifted, first quarter results are below our expectations.”Raj Subramaniam, President and Chief Executive, FedEx

Shares of FedEx plunged more than 20% on September 16 in response to the company’s cost-cutting measures and gloomy outlook on the global economy. FedEx declines to provide details about the grounded aircraft, though the company anticipates reduced demand through the fiscal year 2023.

FedEx has a massive hub in Louisville and operated 675 aircraft at the end of May, according to its most recent financial report. The fleet included Boeing 777 Freighters, MD-10Fs, MD-11Fs, 767Fs, 757Fs, Airbus A330-600Fs, ATR turboprops and Cessna Caravans and 408s.

FedEx has a massive hub in Louisville and operated 675 aircraft at the end of May

UPS declines to comment about whether it will take similar measures to save costs. 

FedEx expects “business conditions to further weaken” in the second quarter. It also withdrew its 23 June earnings forecast for FY2023, citing “expectations for a continued volatile operating environment”.

The company is also delaying hiring new staff and is closing more than 90 FedEx Office locations across the USA.

ALSO READ - FedEx requests permission from FAA to equip cargo planes with anti-missile systems

(With Inputs from Flight Global)

Read next

Airbus A400M first test flight with SAF - one step forward to a more sustainable military aviation


17 Sep 2022

The Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) test flight campaign has been launched by the Airbus A400M programme team with the Military Air Systems unit of the Defence and Space division this summer. In military aviation, Airbus advances its commitment to cleaner skies after a first test flight with a load of 29% SAF in one of its engines was successful.

Airbus A400M first test flight with SAF - one step forward to a more sustainable military aviation

For this first flight, we are using a type of SAF called HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) which is made of residuals of oils, vegetables and fats, and also free of aromatics and Sulphur, so it is very efficient and good for the engines. It is a drop-in fuel, so there is no need to modify the engines´ systems and there are no technical limitationsexplained Ana Belén Blanco, Technical Leader for SAF in A400M

Over the years, MSN4 has been used for a variety of testing. It was important for, among other things, the development and certification of AAR capabilities as a tanker and receiver as well as for cargo and parachute drops since it was made such that the cargo hold was instrumentation-free and completely usable for aerial delivery or additional fuel tanks (CHT). After approximately 2,000 flight hours and this first flight with SAF, the MSN4 will "retire" after only six more flights, which is a well-deserved milestone.

One of the MSN4's engines, especially engine number 2, hit the runway with a combined load of 29% SAF, or "Grizzly 4," as the aircraft is known among the team.

To better understand the behaviour of the fuel system feeding a single engine, SAF's use for this first test flight was restricted to one engine.

During the flight, we performed a close comparison between engine number 2, the one using SAF, and the other 3 engines using standard fuel Jet A1, so we had a very good opportunity to compare the performance of the different fuels. The results we got confirmed that using this blended SAF does not affect engines or aircraft performance, so the A400M can receive the whole potential of it in terms of environmental benefitsaid César González, Flight Test Engineer at Airbus Defence and Space

The aeroplane, which departed from the San Pablo plant runway in Seville and travelled for more than an hour before safely landing back in Seville, took off for the North of Huelva.

A400M Flight Test

SAF is a tried-and-true alternative fuel that, when compared to conventional fuel, can cut life cycle CO2 emissions by up to 85%. This first SAF-powered A400M flight proved that the aircraft and its TP400-D6 engines, which had never been tested with SAF before, comply with the new fuel specifications with a blend of 50% certified SAF for a more environmentally friendly military aviation.

This flight is a significant step forward, and relying on the expertise of our parent companies, we are confident that TP400-D6 robust design will enable us to reach the highest SAF standards said Stephan Schlisske, Head of Design Organisation of Europrop International

This first flight represents a step toward the 100% SAF certification that Airbus and EuroProp International, which is in charge of the TP400-D6 turboprop's engine design, development, production, and support, have agreed to establish jointly.

This first flight of an A400M using SAF is a first step in our division that creates the momentum to progress steadily and persistently at an efficient pace along this path towards sustainability. In order to move forward, more flight tests with SAF are planned for the coming months for the C295 and the A330 MRTT, which will soon join the A400M in this fascinating race towards sustainable military aviationsaid Rocío Gutierrez Alonso, Chief Engineer of A400M Power Plant

Furthermore, preliminary conversations are being held between Airbus, OCCAR, and the A400M Nations to create a path for the certification and operational use of 100% SAF in aircraft.



Read next

"Flying Aircraft Carriers" to be the future of Aerial Warfare


16 Sep 2022

"Gremlins"- a programme operated by DARPA (the Defense Department's Advance Research Projects Agency), is apparently the moniker given to specific drones - that are inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) featuring digital flight and navigation controls.

It is specifically made to be collected mid-mission by a transport aircraft that has been modified. Its potential uses include signal jamming, communication interception, and the search for and destruction of targets. Additionally, they might have explosives for kamikaze strikes.


The Defense Department plans to order roughly 1,000 of the Gremlins, which is expected to cost less than $800,000.

The US military intends to build an aerial aircraft carrier specifically for the Gremlins project in order to transport them. They could use a modified C-130 transport plane, which has bomb racks under its wings that can hold up to four drones. These drones would be deployed with the assistance of a small squadron. However, recovering them airborne after a mission seems to be challenging.

The Dynetics X-61 Gremlins

The Dynetics X-61 Gremlins is an unmanned aerial system that Dynetics is currently testing.


The X-61 was developed as part of the DARPA Gremlins initiative to show off a cheap, recoverable UAV with digital flight and navigation controls. After accomplishing its mission, it is designed to be collected in midair by a modified transport aircraft.

The Williams F107 turbofan engine powers the X-61A, which has a range of payload capabilities that include electro-optical sensors, infrared imagers, electronic warfare systems, and weaponry.

We Are The Mighty

Up to eight X-61As can be controlled simultaneously by a controller in the mothership or on the ground thanks to the semi-autonomous nature of the UAV.

As a result, the Gremlins project's contractor, Dynetics, intends to create a specific recovery system that would be installed atop the C-130's cargo ramp.

When a Gremlin flies back to the mothership, the cargo ramp opens and the recovery system lowers a boom out of it. This boom releases a pod on a ten-metre-long tether, and that pod clamps onto a short engagement arm which pops out of the top of the Gremlin itself. A successful capture shuts off the Gremlin’s engine. A winch then hoists the drone on board. This arrangement should be able to pull eight Gremlins an hour out of the airSOURCE



CAPACITY 65.7 kgLENGTH13 ft 9 inWINGSPAN11 ft 5 inMAXIMUM SPEEDMach 0.6POWERPLANT1 × Williams F107 turbofan engineRANGE560 kmWikipedia

For a second test next summer, Dynetics is modifying its software. The testing will include Gremlins stacked with different payloads while they simulate different circumstances on the battlefield.

The modified aerial aircraft carrier and other aircraft will be able to interact with the Gremlins while in flight thanks to software being developed by DARPA for this purpose under the name "Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment."

On January 17, 2020, the X-61A completed its first free flight. The main parachute did not open during the recovery after the successful takeoff, and the aircraft was lost. The remaining four aircraft are still operational.

A specially outfitted C-130 Hercules cargo plane successfully recovered an X-61A from mid-air in October 2021, according to a DARPA announcement.

It is intriguing to contemplate how current naval and aerial warfare would evolve if the Navy were to construct a fully operational airborne aircraft carrier.

SOURCE: SOFREP | Wikipedia

COVER: SOFREP | (The U.S. National Archives/picryl)