Sustainable biofuel demonstration flights held over the past year with Boeing, airlines, engine companies and fuel processing technology leaders highlight the technical feasibility of using biofuels in commercial jetliners and are a significant step toward a long-term vision of fully sustainable, low-carbon-lifecycle fuel solutions for the aviation industry.

Air New Zealand Biofuel Flight
On Dec. 30, 2008, Boeing, Air New Zealand and Rolls-Royce, working with Honeywell’s UOP, conducted the first sustainable biofuels flight using jatropha as a fuel source. One of the airline’s 747 engines was flown with a 50/50 mixture of jatropha-based biofuel mixed with traditional jet fuel.

Continental Airlines Biofuel Flight
On Jan. 7, 2009, Boeing, CFM International and Honeywell’s UOP helped Continental Airlines become the first U.S. carrier to conduct a biofuels test flight, and also the first to use algae as a fuel source. The algae was mixed with jatropha-based biofuel and traditional jet fuel, and flown in a single engine of a 737 Next-Generation aircraft. Photo courtesy Continental Airlines.

Japan Airlines Biofuel Flight
On Jan. 30, 2009, Boeing, Japan Airlines (JAL), Pratt & Whitney and Honeywell’s UOP moved aviation closer to a sustainable fuel supply by demonstrating a new low-carbon-lifecycle biofuel in a commercial jetliner. During a 90-minute flight from Haneda Airport in Tokyo aboard a 747-300, JAL became the first airline to use the energy crop camelina as a fuel source. The 90-minute test flight combined sustainable biofuel from camelina, algae and jatropha mixed with conventional jet fuel in one of the aircraft’s four engines.

The sustainable biofuels used in these demonstration flights required no modifications to the airplanes or engines. Results from these flights will help pioneer a diverse and sustainable fuel supply for commercial aviation.