Alternative Sources of Energy for Aircraft

Due to increasing fuel costs, a lot of organizations in the aircraft
industry are researching and investigating ways to come up with a solution.
There are many major airlines around the world that reportedly incurred net
losses already in the first quarter of the year 2008 compared to their
previous revenues last year.
The use of alternative sources of energy may be the answer. Different
companies are trying to develop alternative fuels to address its rapid rate
of increase, which is a major problem globally.
The following might just be the answers:
a.. Hydrogen Fuel
b.. Biofuel
c.. Liquid Fuel Oil (GTL)
d.. Electric Power
e.. Fuel CellHydrogen Fuel
Boeing has announced last April 03, 2008 that it has successfully managed
to fly a manned airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
It was the first time in the history of aviation. What was used is a
lithium-ion battery pack and PEM hydrogen fuel cell, which was developed by
Boeing Research and Technology Europe. Hydrogen is not considered an energy
source rather a energy carrier because it takes huge amount of energy to
extract it from water.
The plane which flown 3,300 feet for 20 minutes was a two-seat Dimona
motor-glider with electric motor and conventional propeller. At one point
during the course of the flight, the plane managed to reach a speed of 62
Boeing is not yet certain If this can be applied to a large passenger
airplane but they would continue to research for the probability.

Last February 25, 2008, Virgin Atlantic successfully flown an airplane
with biodiesel. This made them the first airline to have a breakthrough on
Biofuel can either a solid, liquid, or gas fuel derived from recently dead
biological material. The use of it has a big potential to reduce our
dependence on petroleum. Different types of biofules are vegetable oil,
biodiesel, bioalcohols, biogas, syngas, cellulosic, and algae.
The company’s Boeing 747-400 flew from London to Amsterdam. One of its
four fuel tanks has a 20 percent mix of biofuel derived from coconut and
babassu oil. These were chosen because they are environmentally and socially
sutainable and can be found in usual cosmetic products. No modifications
were done to accommodate the biofuel.
Virgin Atlantic said that they are willing to share the results of its
analysis to other organization also wanting to cut their carbon emissions.
But there might be a problem for flying planes with biodiesel, the fuel my
freeze at high altitudes.
On October 19, 2007, Biodiesel Solutions and Green Flight International
successfully completed a test flight in Nevada using a Czechoslovakian-made
L-29 aircraft that has reached 17,000 feet during the course of the flight.

Liquid Fuel Oil
February 5, 2008. For the first time, an Airbus A380 aircraft has
managed to fly using liquid fuel from gas, also known as GTL (Gas to
liquids). It can be defined that GTL is a refinery method that transform
natural gas or other gaseous carbons hydrocarbons into longer-chair
hydrocarbons or liquid fuels. The resulting fuel then can only be blended
with Diesel fuel. Shell International Petroleum provided the jet fuel used.
The aircraft has flown from Filton UK to Toulouse France for three hours.

Electric Fuel
July 30, 2007. Sonex and Aeroconversions introduced an electric sports
aircraft at the AirVenture OshKosh trade show. The aircraft was runned by
electric engines and a high-output battery.
An electric aircraft is one, which runs on electric motors instead of
combustion engines. The electricity can either come from fuel cells, solar
cells, ultra capacitors, power beaming, or batteries.
Some of the advantages are decreased change of mechanical failure
resulting to an increase in safety, lesser noise, greater torque from
electric motors, and lesser risk of explosion or fire.

Fuel Cell
May, 2008. With the collaboration of German Aerospace Center and Airbus,
the first commercial aircraft using fuel cells was introduced at the ILA
Berlin Air Show 2008. The aircraft was an Airbus 320.
In the meantime, Sandia National Laboratories and Boeing are working
together on a project for a possibility of using fuel cells to provide power
backup for aircraft. The purpose is to provide alternative power for
emergency situations when the main power shuts down. Also, Israel Aerospace
Industries is currently developing an inter-city aircraft that will use fuel
A fuel cell is electrochemical conversion equipment. It converts fuel and
an oxidant to electricity, which reacts with the existence of electrolytes.

Aircraft Parts that Build an Aircraft

There are a lot parts and pieces that build an aircraft and when you have or fly a plane, you are definitely aware that some of these parts need to be replaced from time to time. Like any sort of moving entity, parts wear down or simply don't operate as good as they once did. When these parts wear down and the need for replacement arises, the whole aircraft is not outdated yet, as an alternative, aircraft parts must be bought and then installed on the aircraft.

As you might have understood, there are diverse aircraft parts that may or may not need to be replaced throughout the life span of an aircraft. When the majority of us imagine of an aircraft part, we only think of the seats, the seatbelts, the carpet, overhead bins, and the little fold out tables. While these are just additions to an aircraft, these are the pieces of an aircraft that wear out fairly quickly and need to be replaced. Most commercial airlines have thousands of replacement parts for each of these and they can simply replace them out as needed.

Then there are the external parts of an aircraft that most of us think of such as the propellers, engines, wings, windshield, and tires. These are the parts of the aircraft that deal with the elements, and for this reason they are often repaired and replaced as needed. All aircraft, especially commercial types are being checked and inspected to make sure that they meet minimum safety requirements.

During the inspections, a lot of things may be discovered to be in bad condition and they then are stranded until the faulty or worn out aircraft parts can be replaced or repaired.
There are a lot of parts of an aircraft that will eventually be in bad condition or simply become obsolete that will need to be replaced during the life span of the aircraft. Some of these aircraft parts include audio panels, autopilots, HF radios, radar altimeters, storm scopes, transponders, weather radars, and more.

Many parts of the actual aircraft frame will require to be replaced, as well. Just like cars or any other vehicle, there are a lot of little parts and pieces that wear down and need maintenance.

When an aircraft part requires to be replaced, an aircraft owner or the commercial airline requires a parts supplier or dealer. Most commercial airlines keep supply of the typical parts that require replacing or repairing but they get these parts from the parts supplier. These parts suppliers have parts varying from very small to very huge and depending on the supplier that you go to, you may find that they specialize have a lot of parts part for any aircraft. You will find that aircraft parts suppliers that cater to a different kinds of aircraft.

by Mark Sorne
Marketing & Business Development Officer
Aerosup Inc.