FARNBOROUGH: BA eyes up London sites for biofuel initiative

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British Airways and US bioenergy group Solena are evaluating potential sites in East London on which to build a sustainable jet fuel plant aimed at providing at least half of the airline's fuel needs for aircraft based at one of its London airports.

BA manager of environmental affairs Leigh Hudson says there are "some prominent sites in the East End that would be convenient to our operations at London City". She adds that "if we could make the fuel in the East End it would be a neat solution for our London City operations", although the carrier has not yet decided which of its London bases the new fuel will be destined for.

BA has not invested financially in the project but has given a "long-term commitment to buying the fuel", says Hudson. At the moment the fuel is certified for 50:50 blends, but by the time the plant becomes operational in 2014 Hudson believes it is feasible that it could provide all of the fuel for aircraft based at one of BA's London airports.

The fuel will be derived from waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill. Solena converts the waste material into a gas which is then turned into liquid biofuel through the Fischer Tropsch process.

BA will be the first airline to trial jet fuel derived in this way.