JAL completes biofuel flight using flowering plant

Singapore
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Today Japan Airlines (JAL) completed a flight in which a JAL Boeing 747-300 used a mix of biofuel and kerosene to power one of its four engines.

JAL has issued a statement that quotes the aircraft's captain, Keiji Kobayashi, as saying "everything went smoothly" and "there was no difference at all in the performance of the engine powered by the biofuel blend and the other three engines containing regular jet fuel."

"Data recorded on the aircraft will now be analysed to determine" if this is the case, says JAL.

JAL says today's one and a half hour demonstration flight, from Tokyo Haneda with no passengers or pay-load, was significant because its the first to use a blend of three biofuels and the first to use Pratt & Whitney JT9D engines.

colin parker/airteamimages.com 
 © Colin Parker/AirTeamImages.com

Other airlines doing biofuel demonstrations have tended to use jatropha but JAL says its blend was 50% biofuel and 50% jet kerosene and of the biofuel component camelina makes up 84%, jatropha 16% and algae less than 1%. Camelina is a flowering plant.

No modifications were made to the engines but some tests were done before the flight to ensure the engines performed well with the biofuel blend, says JAL.

During the flight, the pilot had the engines do quick accelerations and decelerations and an engine shut-down and restart, it adds.

JAL group president and CEO, Haruka Nishimatsu, says in the statement: "The demonstration flight brings us closer to finding a greener alternative to traditional petroleum-based fuel."

"When biofuels are produced in sufficient amounts to make them commercially viable, we hope to be one of the first airlines in the world to power aircraft using" biofuels, he adds.