On the heels of Virgin Atlantic’s part-biofuel powered flight in February, Continental Airlines says it will pursue a biofuels demonstration flight with Boeing and GE Aviation in the first half of 2009.

A Boeing 737 Next Generation with CFM International CFM56-7B engines will be used on the flight.

Continental says it will work with Boeing and GE and an undisclosed fuel provider to identify sustainable fuel sources that do not impact food crops, water resources or contribute to deforestation, and which can be produced in sufficient quantities to support a pre-flight test schedule that includes laboratory and ground-based jet engine performance testing.

Continental 737NG

“Exploring sustainable biofuels is a logical and exciting new step in our environmental commitment. For more than a decade, we have been focused on reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions, while providing industry-leading service to the places our customers want to go,” says Continental executive VP operations Mark Moran  in a statement.

Contentinal is the first US airline to announce it will test a biofuel. A Virgin GE CF6-80C2-powered Boeing 747-400 performed a biofuel test flight in partnership with Boeing and GE on 24 February using a 20% mix of a biofuel, developed by Seattle-based Imperium Renewables and composed of babassu oil and coconut oil.

Air New Zealand will conduct a demonstration flight of a second-generation biofuel later this year in partnership with Boeing and Rolls-Royce on a RB211-524G-powered 747-400.

Earlier this month Airbus carried out a Roll-Royce Trent-powered A380 flight using Shell International Petroleum’s gas-to-liquid (GTL) jet fuel as part of its alternative fuel research programme.

Source: FlightGlobal.com