Team Vance plays big part in producing energy-aware culture

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  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The Air Force’s Energy Analysis Task Force focuses on saving fuel costs through improving resiliency, optimizing demand, and assuring supply. Airmen are a key element to the success of these goals, so it is imperative to foster an energy aware culture amongst the Air Force’s newest aircrew.

Team Vance played a big part in producing energy-aware culture by teaching student pilots how to shave more than 6 percent off their fuel consumption on cross-country sorties and 3 percent on local flights.

“We appreciate the 71st Flying Training Wing’s cooperation and support during our fuel efficiency small group tryout,” said Roberto Guerrero, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Operational Energy, during a recent visit here.

The small group tryout he referenced was held two years ago with great success. Thirty-four students in the 3rd Flying Training Squadron were given an in-flight guide page with tables for flying fuel efficient cruise speeds and altitudes.  After the trial, data gathered from the 34 students were compared with baseline data.

“The study validated the effectiveness of the training and demonstrated fuel savings in all measured areas,” said Guerrero. Student surveys after the study indicated students had an improved understanding of selecting fuel-efficient cruise altitudes, calculating fuel-efficient descents, and an increased awareness of fuel efficiency in general.

“The tryout validated the effectiveness of introducing fuel efficiency techniques in initial training to help foster an energy-aware culture,” said Guerrero. “Small changes in the behavior of our people and the processes they employ can generate significant cost avoidance savings to the U.S. Air Force.”  Currently, these changes have been incorporated into the Vance T-1 training syllabus.  This new energy-aware mindset will be carried forward to the Major Weapons Systems and turn small changes into big ones.

These changes are essential under current budget constraints.

Guerrero helped put into context the impact energy costs have on the USAF budget.  “Over the past 10 years, the Air Force’s total energy expenditures have increased 5 percent, amounting to nearly $8.5 billion, with more than 86 percent of those energy costs going to aviation.” 

Having served as a pilot for both the Navy and the Air Force, and logging more than 4,100 flying hours including 350 combat hours, Guerrero is no stranger to military aviation. He flew helicopters, trainers, and the E-3 AWACS. After retiring as a colonel from the Air Force, he entered civil service. Guerrero is now a member of the senior executive service.

His duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Operational Energy include improving energy resiliency by ensuring continuity of operations, optimizing demand through elimination of waste, and assuring supply and uninterrupted access to operational energy.

Improving resiliency includes increasing fuel flexibility and availability for Air Force aircraft. One example of this is the transition of jet fuel from military specific JP-8 to the widely available commercial jet fuel, Jet-A. “By blending military-specific additives into Jet-A, we bring the fuel up to JP-8 specifications, giving us the flexibility to acquire and use this type of fuel throughout the United States and around the world, and at a cheaper price,” said Guerrero.

Additionally, the Air Force certified all of its aircraft for operation on two different types of alternative fuels. These alternative fuels can be mixed with Jet-A or JP-8 at a 50/50 blend. “Access to these alternative fuel options help ensure fuel is available when and where we need it to conduct USAF operations” said Guerrero.

“The approved alternative fuels have been tested in all our aircraft, so we know we are compatible with fuel sources anywhere in the world,” he said.

“As energy becomes a bigger part of the budget, we are more and more interested in ensuring we’re optimizing that energy use,” he said. “That will bring savings back into the operational world so we can buy more combat capability.”

Guerrero expressed great appreciation for the support provided by the men and women at Vance. “They helped the Energy Analysis Task Force accomplish its mission of identifying and evaluating energy initiatives across the Air Force to meet Department of Defense and Air Force strategic energy goals.”