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FAA flexes green thumb

By Hpanchal on October 20, 2011

Targeting the environmental footprint of airports instead of airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration has handed over a $2 million grant to officials at San Diego International Airport so they can study how to reduce carbon consumption at the airport. The award is one of 12 environmental projects at 11 airports meted out by the FAA this year.

“We are committed to helping airports around the country make the necessary infrastructure investments that will reduce fuel costs and help protect the environment,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

The money will be used to install land-side power units and air units at airport gates, which will allow incoming aircraft to shut down their own power supply and connect to the airport’s electronic infrastructure. The FAA reasons that this will reduce airline emissions and diminish the airport’s carbon footprint.

Like many carriers around the world, the administration is also getting into the biofuel act. Last November, the FAA signed a five-year MoU with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding the development of fuel from forest and crop residues. The aim, according to a joint press release, is to reduce dependence on foreign oil and bring stability to aviation fuel costs.

Upon hearing of the partnership, Billy M. Glover, Boeing’s vice president of environment and action policy, issued a statement commending the partnership.

“Through test flights with a number of our customers, we have proven that fuels made from plant matter and algae can power jet aircraft safely and efficiently, and we look forward in the months ahead to the approval of these fuels for commercial use,” he said at the time.

“The challenge then will be to prime the production pump,” he continued, “and bring biofuels to an attractive price point for airlines.”

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