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Mexico's Interjet plans alternative fuels trial in early 2010

Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet has become the latest airline to sign up for an alternative fuels trial.

Airbus parent EADS says in a statement that Interjet has been selected to operate a two-hour biofuels demonstration flight early next year using a CFM International CFM56-powered Airbus A320. EADS says a fuel derived from Salicornia, a type of algae indigenous to Mexico, has been selected for the trial because the feedstock does not compete with potable water.

Continental Airlines and Japan Airlines used algae as part of the mix in biofuel trial flights conducted earlier this year. But this is the first time Salicornia, which is produced in the northern Mexican state of Sonora, has been used.

EADS says Interjet was selected for the trial during Frenchpresident Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Mexico City last week. The trial will cost about $10 million and is being supported by two French companies - Airbus parent EADS and Snecma parent company Safran. Snecma is part of the CFM consortium.

EADS says the CFM56s powering the A320 involved in the trial will not have to be modified for the test. It says after the test the alternative fuel will be drained and the aircraft will be able to return to normal commercial service.

Mexico City-based Interjet operates a fleet of 13 A320s on domestic routes. It is the first airline in Mexico to plan a biofuels trial.

Interjet joins JetBlue Airways in scheduling an alternative fuels test flight in 2010. However, the US low-cost carrier has not finalized which kind of biofuel it will use to power its trial.

Feedstocks being considered for the JetBlue trial include jatropha, algae, waste forest residues, organic waste streams and the non-edible component of corn plants, corn stover, a JetBlue spokesman tells ATI.

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