Friday, December 22, 2006

Fuel Conservation

Folks around Elmendorf AFB are a little up in arms over the fact that jets up there occasionally dump fuel. For those of you who aren't aware, military aircraft have the ability to dump fuel in order to get down to a safe landing weight; to explain a bit further, aircraft typically take off with a higher gross weight than what they are able to safely land at, with the assumption that when the airplane reaches it's destination, it will have been lightened considerably due to burning fuel, among other things (dropping stuff that goes boom also lightens the load). Obviously, when something goes wrong with the plane or something else happens that requires an immediate landing (like weather rapidly approaching minimums and no divert available) you have to dump fuel in order to get down to a safe landing weight.

Anyway, one critic (whose authority on the matter is that he's a Professor of Marine Advisory) questions whether or not these are real "emergencies," and then says that the military shouldn't be wasting fuel. I'm sorry, the next time a plane's on fire I'm sure the pilot will be willing to stay up there for a few hours and burn fuel the old fashioned way so we won't be wasting any. The other critic (a state oil spill official) is concerned with the effect that dumping fuel has on the environment. Of course, it doesn't matter to her that according to Elmendorf officials, less than 1% of all fuel dumped even reaches the surface. I was only in the engineering field for 3 semesters, but I picked up a few of those is "negligable for all practical purposes." I should think that less than 1% would fit within that category.

Yeah, it's things like this that make me thank God I'm not a PAO, because dealing with these people would have a severely adverse effect on my sanity.