Aviation biofuels on verge of official certification

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Certifying body ASTM International looks set to approve the use of hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) fuel for use in commercial aviation, opening up the possibility for biofuel-powered flights to operate during the 2011 Paris air show.

A deciding ballot passed through ASTM's relevant technical committees on 8 June.

While approval has not been made official yet, Richard Altman, executive director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), told ATI and Flightglobal that "from a practical point of view, we are done".

Once approval is officially given, it clears the way for airlines such as Lufthansa to begin operating flights using a biofuel blend.

Lufthansa had originally planned to begin a six-month trial in April 2011, operating its Frankfurt-Hamburg route using an International Aero Engines-powered Airbus A321 with one of its engines running on a 50/50 blend of biofuel derived from vegetable oil.

However, it was forced to put the plan on hold because the fuel was not certified in time by regulators.

If ASTM approval becomes official, it will also give the green light for airlines to operate biofuel-powered flights during the 2011 Paris air show - something that has been planned in the hope that certification happens before the show begins on 20 June.

"We're hoping to get all procedural matters sorted before the air show. If this happens it opens the prospect for aircraft to fly in on that fuel," said Altman. "We're planning to have a physical presence of aircraft flying this fuel."

It is not known which airline will conduct the biofuel-powered flight at Paris, however Lufthansa said it will not be the carrier.