USAF C-17 makes transcontinental flight using synthetic fuel blend

A United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster III heavy airlift airplane touched down at the McGuire Air Force Base (AFB) in New Jersey, completing the type's first transcontinental flight using a synthetic fuel blend. US Air Force secretary, Michael Wynne, described it as a ''special and meaningful mission.''

The flight is a crucial step in the US Air Force's plan to certify its entire fleet on synthetic fuel by 2011. The C-17 carries 80 per cent of the Air Force cargo requirements.

Secretary Wynne has said that the synthetic blend burns more efficiently and more cleanly than standard jet fuel and could pay dividends by reducing the amount of engine maintenance required. Plans call for domestic production of the fuel to begin by 2012.

The US Air Force, which is the US government's largest fuel consumer, is hoping to lock in a long-term supply contract.