Canada’s National Research Council (Hall 4 Stand C18B) has been flight-testing its Dassault Falcon 20 fueled by biofuel while sampling the exhaust using a probe fitted to a Lockheed T-33 chase plane. TheNRC believes the exercise to be a world first.
The flights took place in May and June this year and pushed the mix 10 percent beyond the certified 50/50 blend of fossil fuel and the biofuel, which is produced from a new, domestically grown feedstock crop derived from Brassica carinata and optimized for aviation use by Agrisoma Biosciences. Flights at an even split and at a ratio of 60-percent bio and 40-percent fossil were made under various conditions.
The T-33 pilots took up formation on the Falcon to position the old trainer’s wing-mounted sensor pods in the slipstream of the Falcon. “The T-33 flies about 1,000 to 2,000 feet in trail and measures the whole wake of the Falcon,” Stewart Baillie, director of the flight research lab at the NRC Institute for Aerospace Research, Ottawa, toldAIN. “The Falcon is not that heavy, and the T-33 is a robust old airplane, so we can get pretty close too–about a wingspan separation.”
Preliminary results of the sampling indicate that “particulate emissions, includingaerosols of black carbon, sulphates and by-products of the combustion of aromatic compounds,are significantly lower from biofuels than from jet-A1.”Analysis continues. What’s more, said Baillie, the performance of the Falcon 20 operating on biofuels was essentially the same as operations under jet-A1 on the ground, in cruise and during in-flight engine restarts. “The use of the biofuels did not demand any change to our ground handling, fueling or fuel system or engine maintenance practices.”
The feedstock crop used for the biojet fuel was grown in the summer of last year by Agrisoma Biosciences with the support on the NRC’s plant biotechnology expertise. This crop has all the features necessary to make it a sustainable energy feedstock crop, according to the NRC. “It is a nonfood, industrial oilseed, uniquely suited for production in semi-arid areas unsuitable for food oilseed production, with excellent agronomic characteristics,” the council said.
Brassica carinata is a “hardy plant, a type of mustard, almost like a weed in that it grows where other crops could not grow, and it’s got some interesting characteristics right at the molecular level that allow it be a particularly effective fuel feedstock,” noted Baillie.