OVER THE PAST YEAR, COMMERCIAL aviation suddenly has become serious about alternative fuels. Once pie-in-the-sky popular science, the subject now is manifestly mainstream. From January 2004 through July 2006, jet fuel prices skyrocketed $1.16 per gal., according to the Air Transport Assn., and fuel has leapfrogged labor at most airlines as the largest operating expense. But "this is not just about price," says ATA Chief Economist John Heimlich, "it's about supply integrity. We want to make ...

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