Japan Airlines tries new biofuel in test flight

A non-food energy crop was used in a test flight done by Japan Airlines in a successful attempt to try out a new biofuel. The plane, without any passengers, was powered by conventional jet oil and the test biofuel.


AFP - Japan Airlines (JAL) on Friday carried out the world's first successful test flight of a Boeing aeroplane run on biofuel made primarily of a non-food energy crop called camelina.

In a joint project with the United States' Boeing and engine maker Pratt and Whitney, JAL -- Asia's largest carrier -- conducted a demonstration flight of about 90 minutes.

One engine on the Boeing 747-300 aircraft, which took off from Tokyo's Haneda airport, was powered by biofuel mixed with conventional kerosene jet oil, the company said.

"No modifications to the aircraft or engine were required for biofuel," JAL said in a statement.

"Today is an extremely important day for Japan Airlines, for aviation, and for the environment," said JAL president Haruka Nishimatsu. "The demonstration flight brings us ever closer to finding a greener alternative to traditional petroleum-based fuel."

"When biofuels are produced in sufficient amounts to make them commercially viable, we hope to be one of the first airlines in the world to start powering our aircraft using them," he said.

The biofuel used in the flight is "a mixture of three second-generation biofuel feedstocks" of camelina, jatropha and algae, the airline said.

"Second-generation feedstocks do not compete with natural food or water resources and do not contribute to deforestation practices," the company said.

The JAL flight was Boeing's fourth project using biofuel.

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