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PARIS: 747-8F biofuel pilot takes landmark flight in his stride

One of the pilots who flew the biofuel-powered Boeing 747-8 Freighter from Seattle to Le Bourget has described the landmark flight as uneventful, with nothing out of the ordinary to report.

Speaking to Flightglobal on board the aircraft, Captain Rick Braun said the fact that all four General Electric GEnx-2B engines were powered by a blend of 15% camelina-based biofuel and 85% kerosene had "no impact at all" on operations.

The aircraft consumed the same amount of fuel as it would have done on the same flight using 100% kerosene, and the refuelling process took the same amount of time.

747-8F RC522, Joe Walker
 © Joe Walker

Boeing director of sustainable aviation fuels Darrin Morgan is hoping the "wow factor" of the flight - the first across the Atlantic of a large commercial jetliner with all four engines powered by sustainable jet fuel - will now be "replaced by the wow factor of airline customers starting revenue services [using biofuel blends]".

Boeing could have used up to a 50/50 blend of camelina-based fuel and kerosene for the flight, but chose to use just 15% biofuel because "most airline customers won't use higher blends than this at first", said Morgan.

The airframer chose to use camelina for the flight over other feedstocks simply because it "happened to be available, but there will be many options", he added. "Going forward, we will use different blends. This is the next step."

Camelina is a rotational crop, which in this case was grown in Montana. The goal is for each region to use locally available feedstocks.