April 24, 2012: The U.S. Air Force is spending an additional billion dollars this year for fuel, mainly because of higher fuel prices. So to save money the air force has ordered its transport pilots to adopt more fuel saving practices that have long been common for commercial cargo haulers. Thus air force cargo pilots are now flying higher and slower.
But the air force has been adopting commercial aviation fuel saving techniques more energetically for over a decade. This includes installing more fuel-efficient engines on older aircraft and changing flight paths and operating techniques. For example, pilots are ordered to minimize the time they operate their engines while on the ground and crews have been ordered to get rid of any non-essential equipment on the aircraft. As a result of all this, fuel consumption is down four percent over the last five years. This happened despite the fact that 27 percent more cargo is being flown compared to 2007. Currently, the air force transports carry out over 900 flights a day.
One thing the air force has been unable to cut much is flights they make to carry senior government officials, including members of Congress. Since Congress decides how much money the air force gets each year, cuts in Congressional flights is seen as false economy.