2008: The rising cost of aircraft fuel has forced the U.S. Air Force to get
more efficient. Some 73 percent of the Department of Defense fuel goes to aircraft,
and in the air force, 42 percent of that fuel goes to transports. Noting the
measures airlines are taking to cut fuel costs, the air force is following
suit. For example, every piece of equipment carried by transports is being
reviewed, and lots of unneeded stuff (extra parachutes, life-rafts, tech
manuals, even seats) is being removed. This adds up to big bucks when you have
several hundred transports, being used heavily.
big savings was long overdue. It had long been the custom to have reserve unit
transports to fly around to several air bases to pick up crew members and
equipment. Now the distant crew members find their own way to the transport (by
commercial air, car, train or whatever, at air force expense). Any equipment
needed can be mailed. For transport pilots, it's now a lot cheaper to spend a
lot more time (about 95 percent) in a simulator, when learning how to fly a new
aircraft type, than to fly the actual aircraft. The pilots are just as well
trained, and lots of fuel is saved. The air force is also paying more attention
to exactly what it costs to fly its transports, and to send gear by cheaper
commercial freight haulers, when possible, instead of using the air force plane.
force is examining all uses of fuel, on the ground as well as in the air. Some
of the new practices can be applied to combat aircraft as well. The air force
has little choice, as the tax payers are not going to raise their budget to pay
for the higher fuel costs.