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Biofuel flight in Australia scheduled

April 9, 2012, 09:58 am

Qantas and SkyNRG recently announced they will operate Australia's first commercial biofuel flight April 13 from Sydney to Adelaide. Using an Airbus A330, the flight will operate using a 50:50 blend of biofuel derived from used cooking oil and conventional jet fuel.

The fuel will be supplied by SkyNRG and is certified for use in commercial aviation. The lifecycle carbon footprint is about 60  percent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel, making it a more environmentally sound fuel source. Qantas Group is working to advocate the development of the sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency, Air Transport World reported.

The flight will depart Sydney at 10:20 am and arrive at Adelaide at 12:25 pm. The goal of the flight is to raise awareness about the potential for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia produced at a commercial scale and a competitive price. Without the awareness and attention, the industry will likely not realize the many benefits of alternative fuel sources. Qantas believes the transition to biofuel must be a collaborative effort, and hopes the flight will inspire other airlines and aviation groups to lend their support and resources toward future research and development in Australia, ATW reported.

In the United States, the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently conducted a study highlighting the potential for alternative energy production at airports. The study indicated that airports should consider transitioning to alternative fuel sources due to the many economic and environmental benefits.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said grasslands at many airports could be used to develop American-grown biofuel and biobased products that will eliminate the country's dependence on foreign oil and boost the transition to clean energy consumption.

"Converting airport grasslands to biofuel, solar or wind production not only provides more environmentally-sound alternative energy sources for our country, but may also increase revenue for airports and reduce the local abundance of potentially hazardous wildlife to aircraft," Vilsack said. "Such efforts may be particularly beneficial for rural economic development, as many rural airport properties contain expansive grasslands that potentially could be converted to biofuel crops or other renewable energy sources."

As new fuel sources pave the way for innovation in aviation, professionals should not forget about the fundamentals of air travel including safety and pilot insurance.

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