Lufthansa to start regular scheduled biofuel flights this week and announces other fuel-saving and climate initiatives
Measuring probe in the fuselage section of the Lufthansa A340-300 Viersen aircraft for the IAGOS climate research project (photo: Lufthansa)
Mon 11 July 2011 – Lufthansa’s Pure Sky biofuel programme of commercial scheduled daily flights from Hamburg to Frankfurt will get underway this Friday (July 15). The 50/50 blended fuel will be used for six months on eight of its 28 daily flights on the near-500 mile round trip, notching up 1,200 flights in all and saving a total of 1,500 tonnes of CO2, says the airline. Although Lufthansa has been pipped to the post by KLM as the first airline to use recently approved hydroprocessed fuels on a commercial flight, the German carrier is laying claim to being the first to use sustainable biofuels in regular service. Lufthansa has also said it will start a programme of replacing its cargo containers with new lightweight versions that are 15 per cent lighter. In addition, the airline has joined in the launch of a new climate research project for the long-term observation of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The biofuel is being supplied by Neste of Finland and while details of the biomass source have not been formally released it will likely be plant-based.
For the biofuel flights, one engine of an Airbus A321 will be fed by the biofuel blend, the other on conventional kerosene and the during the length of the programme it will allow Lufthansa engineers at its Hamburg MRO facility to compare the engines’ performances under normal everyday operations.
The airline is reported to be paying more than double the price of kerosene, which is currently just under the $1000 per tonne or $3 per US gallon mark, for the biofuel to be used in the programme.
From the autumn, Lufthansa will begin phasing out its old aluminium cargo containers and replacing them with new plastic versions manufactured by Jettainer, a Lufthansa Cargo subsidiary, that are up to 15% lighter. The new smaller containers, which are transported on the under-floor deck of passenger and cargo planes, will phased in over the next four years. A total of 5,000 containers are being replaced and Lufthansa estimates the weight saving will have the potential to reduce fuel consumption by 2,180 tonnes per year and save 6,867 tonnes of CO2.
The containers, which are used for both transporting passenger luggage and cargo shipments, have already undergone extensive testing procedures for security and handling properties, assures the airline.
“The new light containers are another step towards achieving our ambitious targets to reduce emissions,” said the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Lufthansa Cargo, Karl Ulrich Garnadt. “Together with Jettainer, we are targeting investment in the latest technology, and the Lufthansa group will therefore be operating the largest fleet of lightweight containers in the world.”
Last week, a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Lagos marked the launch of a climate research project with the Jülich Research Centre (FZJ) that will enable long-term measurement and observation of the Earth’s atmosphere using scheduled Lufthansa services.
Specially developed measurement devices have been installed on an Airbus A340-300 aircraft that will routinely record while in flight atmospheric trace substances, which will in the future be extended to aerosols and cloud particles. The data generated from flights taking place worldwide will be digitally sampled, processed and analysed after every landing, and will be of major importance for climate research and numerical weather forecasting, says Lufthansa.
The project is part of the European IAGOS (In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System) research programme, and is the fourth climate project being supported by Lufthansa. The airline says the use of civil aviation aircraft allows for the collection of large quantities of important measurement data in a volume and resolution that would otherwise not be possible using only research flights or satellites. It claims to be the only airline worldwide involved in climate research and air quality.