April 24, 2014
High-Flying Sequel Set To Premier By NASA Aeronautics
Jim Banke, NASA
[ Watch The Video: NASA Prepping HU 25C Guardian For ACCESS II Test Flights ]
For the second time in as many years, NASA researchers beginning in early May will take to the skies with a DC-8 and other aircraft to conduct a series of flight tests designed to study the effects on emissions and contrail formation of burning alternative fuels in jet engines.
And just like a good movie sequel, this year's Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions flight tests, known as ACCESS II for short, will feature a number of new plot twists to keep the research story interesting and moving forward.
Among them are new science instruments, new flight profiles to follow and a decidedly new international flavor to the effort thanks to the direct participation of research aircraft and scientists from Germany and Canada.
"We’re going to have quite a few people speaking German. We’ll have some Canadians present and the pilot for the Canadian aircraft is Australian, so it should be a real international crowd out there," said Brian Beaton, NASA's ACCESS II integration manager.
ACCESS II involves flying NASA's workhorse DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while its four CFM56 engines burn either JP-8 jet fuel, or a 50-50 blend of JP-8 and renewable alternative fuel of hydro processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil.
Meanwhile, a trio of instrumented research aircraft will take turns flying behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 10 miles in order to take measurements on emissions, and to study contrail formation as the different fuels are used.
The aircraft will include NASA's HU-25C Guardian jet based at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia, a Falcon 20-E5 jet owned by the German Aerospace Center, and a CT-133 jet provided by the National Research Council of Canada.
"We are excited to be working with our international partners in this very important research that could lead to worldwide environmental benefits and enable the growth in global air travel forecast for the decades ahead," said Ruben Del Rosario, manager of NASA's Fixed Wing Project.