Using nationally-sourced jatropha, Aeromexico conducts first transcontinental commercial biofuel flight
Aeromexico Boeing 777-200ER (photo: Boeing)
Thu 18 Aug 2011 – Aeromexico has become the first airline to carry out a passenger flight across the Atlantic using biofuel. A GE-powered Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, with a blend of 30 per cent biofuel sourced from jatropha and 70 per cent conventional jet kerosene, flew 250 passengers from Mexico City to Madrid. Around 20 tons of the jatropha curcas fuel was supplied by Mexico’s largest airport operator and jet fuel provider Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA). Aircraft manufacturer Boeing was involved in the flight programme, which was also supported by Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transport. On July 21, Mexico’s second-biggest airline, Interjet, carried out the country’s first commercial biofuel flights between Mexico City and Tuxtla Gutierrez using an Airbus A320.
Aeromexico says it will coordinate with ASA on a further jet biofuel programme over the next year involving CFM-powered Boeing 737-700 aircraft on weekly commercial flights to destinations such as San Jose, Costa Rica.
ASA is leading plans for one per cent of jet fuel consumption in Mexico to be met from sustainable biofuels by 2015 and 15% by 2020.
Mexico’s sustainable jet biofuel strategy encompasses additional biomass sources such as algae, salicornia and castor seed. ASA is coordinating efforts with other organisations through the country’s Inter-Agency Biofuel Development Commission, which was set up to overview and coordinate all government efforts related to biofuel production, storage, transportation, distribution, commercialisation and final use. ASA has set up collaboration agreements with state governments as well as the private sector, including Boeing and Honeywell’s UOP.
In October 2009, ASA joined with Boeing and Honeywell’s UOP to identify, research and further the development of a commercially viable market for sustainable aviation biofuels sourced in Mexico (see story). The parties agreed to commission initial studies on promising biomass systems for Mexico and to formalize the joint initiative with a commitment to work via the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels
In cooperation with ASA, low-cost operator Interjet carried out Mexico’s – and, points out Interjet, the Americas’ – first commercial biofuel flights on July 21 using a CFM-powered Airbus A320 aircraft between Mexico City’s International Airport and Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport in the southern state of Chiapas using jatropha cultivated in the state and processed by UOP. Around 12,700 litres of biofuel was supplied to Interjet and the consumption for the two flights amounted to just over 8,500 litres, and was blended 27/73 with conventional jet fuel.
The airline says it is planning further biofuel flights despite limited availability of the fuel and the cost being considerably higher than conventional jet kerosene.