Airmen Help Save Fuel Through Better Planning

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jeremy J. McClure
  • 185th ARW Public Affairs
With the dramatic jump in gas prices over the years, we all have looked for ways to save money at the pump when we fuel up. The Air Force and the Air National Guard are no different and with the ideas from two Airmen with the Iowa Air National Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, IA, the Air Force is cutting down on the fuel it uses to accomplish its missions through better analysis and mission planning.

"We are taking off with less (fuel) so we are burning less," said Senior Master Sgt. Jay Doran, a boom operator with the 185th Air Refueling Wing.

Doran and Tech. Sgt. Misty McNamara have helped the 185th become one of the top units in the Air Mobility Command for reporting fuel use which has helped find ways to reduce consumption.

"Air Mobility Command has a website that all aircraft report their fuel use to in order to analyze how we are planning our fuel use," said Doran. According to Doran, this has led to better mission planning.

The website was born of an initiative to analyze fuel used by units in the Air Force and Air National Guard to look for ways to conserve, according to information released by the Department of Energy.

The Airmen developed a form that is completed at the end of fight that has made reporting fuel use to the website more efficient and timely. This has also led to creating a culture of conservation amongst the flying units.

"I have gotten calls from different units wanting to know how we are tracking this so fast," said McNamara.

Thanks to the efforts of Doran and McNamara, the 185th Air Refueling Wing was the recipient of the Air Mobility Command's Fuel Efficiency Award for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

"By entering this data, we are better able to plan our missions," said Doran. "This way we carry as little fuel as possible to accomplish the mission."

Unlike our cars, aircraft have to burn more fuel to be able to carry the weight of the added fuel. By reducing the weight of the aircraft, they increase efficiency. This efficiency translates to financial savings and lowered impact on the environment.

"We are carrying considerably less fuel then we were five years ago," added Doran while talking about flying missions conducted by the unit.

In addition to planning more efficient fuel use in missions, Doran recognized another way to save the government money by having air refueling tankers conduct refueling missions while en route to other bases.

While the main mission of the 185th is aerial refueling, the KC-135 Stratotanker can conduct transport missions. There missions are often used for hauling cargo or medical evacuations of wounded service members.

"We were flying to Andrews Air Force Base to get positioned for a medevac mission and it seemed that we could be doing a refueling mission as well," Said Doran.

Doran said before his suggestion was accepted, a refueler may fly to another base to get ready or "positioned" for another mission and not do a refueling another aircraft. In order to support the refueling requirements, another refueler would have to be launched for that mission.

"There are more refueling mission requirements then there are refuelers to meet those requirements," said Doran explaining the demand for aerial refueling.

His idea saved the Air Force money by having refuelers flying to get "positioned" for another mission, conduct a refueling mission. This helped meet demand and save the Air Force and Air National Guard the cost of launching another aircraft and the fuel to conduct the mission.

"I was told that my idea helped save 1.8 to 1.9 million dollars in fuel costs alone for the Air Force," said Doran.

So next time you are at the pump, imagine having to estimate the minimum amount of fuel you would actually need for your trip to get an idea of what Airmen do every day to save fuel.

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