Qantas to operate biofuel flight

Friday, 06 April 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 14

Qantas announced it will operate Australia’s first commercial flights powered by sustainable aviation fuel on April 13, 2012.

The flights, a Sydney-Adelaide return service operated by an Airbus A330, will be powered by a biofuel derived from used cooking oil (split 50:50 with conventional jet fuel). Produced by SkyNRG, the fuel has been fully certified for use in commercial aviation and endorsed by the World Wildlife Fund. Its ‘life cycle’ carbon footprint is around 60 percent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel.

Qantas Airbus A330. Qantas Airbus A330.

With high fuel costs and carbon pricing affecting airlines around the world, the Qantas Group is taking the lead in advocating the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.

A 2011 study by the CSIRO, endorsed by major aviation businesses, found that such an industry is feasible and, over the next 20 years, could generate more than 12,000 jobs and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent in the aviation sector. However, it also identified significant obstacles that must be overcome.

Qantas’ Head of Environment, John Valastro, said the goal of the flights was to raise awareness about the potential for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia.

“We know that sustainable aviation fuel can be used in commercial aviation just like conventional jet fuel. But until it is produced at a commercial scale, at a competitive price, the industry will not be able to realize its true benefits. No single player can make this happen: it needs support from government, private sector investment, access to infrastructure and market demand,” Valastro said.

“Over recent months Qantas has been in discussions with government and industry partners about taking the next step - producing a clear blueprint for the establishment of an Australian sustainable aviation fuel industry. This needs to focus not on speculative technologies but on biofuels that are operationally feasible now, production of which could commence within the next few years - given the right conditions. We hope to accelerate the process in the coming weeks as we build towards this Australian-first flight.”

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