Qatar Airways to start commercial gas-to-liquid fuel flights

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Qatar Airways is to start flying commercially with gas-to-liquid jet fuel, three years after the carrier conducted a demonstration service with the new technology.

The fuel is a blend of regular Jet A-1 fuel with up to 50% gas-to-liquid synthetic paraffinic kerosene, which is produced by the Pearl GTL plant.

Distribution of the fuel to Doha's international airport started on 17 December and, on 9 January, Qatar Airways scheduled its QR001 flight to London Heathrow with an Airbus A340-600 powered by the blend.

The Pearl GTL facility has been developed by Qatar Petroleum and Shell.

"GTL jet fuel will be supplied into the wider jet fuel pool at Doha, enabling the state of Qatar to enjoy the benefits of this product," says Qatari energy minister Mohammed bin Saleh Al-Sada.

Qatar Airways carried out a London Gatwick-Doha demonstration revenue service, using the fuel in an A340-600, in October 2009.

At the time the airline set a target of having all its flights from its hub powered by the new fuel from 2012.

Qatar Airways, which unveiled its gas-to-liquid fuel project in late 2007, says the new fuel is "now flowing" into aircraft tanks at Doha.

"As the world talks and preaches environmentally friendly skies, we at Qatar Airways are setting the bar high for others to follow," says chief executive Akbar Al Baker. "We are shifting the goalposts."

The carrier says the synthetic blend can produce fewer particulate emissions than conventional fuel, and has a higher energy density. "This has the potential to reduce engine maintenance requirements and the required fuel payload," it claims.

Qatar Shell managing director Wael Sawan says the fuel can be "safely usedacross all legacy aircraft" and by the latest airframes and engines "on the drawing boards today".