ICAO launches Rio+20 sustainability initiative and joins with aviation industry in series of alternative fuel flights to Rio
Mon 18 June 2012 – To mark its participation at the United Nations Rio+20 sustainable development gathering in Rio de Janeiro this week, UN specialised agency ICAO has brought together aviation and biofuels industry stakeholders to conduct a series of connecting commercial alternative fuel flights from Montreal to Rio de Janeiro. ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin will be on board four separate flights operated by Porter Airlines, Air Canada, Aeroméxico and GOL, each using different types of sustainable biofuels. The first flight departs Montreal at 11.30am local time today and the final leg arrives in Rio at 2pm tomorrow (June 19), which has been designated Aviation Day at Rio+20. Separate alternative fuel flights arriving in Rio tomorrow are also being conducted by a European carrier and an internal test flight by Azul Airlines.
On his way to Rio+20, Benjamin will travel via Toronto, Mexico City and São Paulo on flights that will use various blends of fuels derived from sources including camelina, used cooking oil, jatropha and inedible corn oil. The fuels have been supplied by Mexico’s ASA (Aeropuertos y Servicios), Curcas, SkyNRG and UOP, and the Azul flight will use fuel derived partly from sustainable sugar cane supplied by Amyris.
“This is truly a world-first series of flights,” said Benjamin, launching ICAO’s ‘Flightpath to a Sustainable Future’ global initiative, “and one which demonstrates that the whole air transport sector is working together to make significant advances across a range of sustainability issues, so that it can continue to fulfil its role as a catalyst for economic and social development, while reducing its impact on the environment.”
Aviation industry representation for the series of flights has involved leading aircraft manufacturers Bombardier, Airbus and Boeing, as well as Aéroports de Montreal, Infraero and ANAC and ASA.
Aircraft used for the flights include a Porter Airlines’ Bombardier Q400 powered in part from fuel derived from camelina (flight 414 from Montréal to Toronto); an Air Canada Airbus A319 using used cooking coil supplied by SkyNRG (flight 991 from Toronto to Mexico City; an Aeroméxico Boeing 777-200 using a blend including used cooking oil, jatropha and camelina supplied by ASA (flight 14 from Mexico City to São Paulo); and a GOL 737-800 from São Paulo to Rio Santos Dumont using fuel derived from inedible corn oil and used cooking oil supplied by Honeywell’s UOP.
The flights will carry the declaration signed by industry leaders at a previous Aviation & Environment Summit organised by industry umbrella group the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), which pledged the sector’s commitment to environmental responsibility.
“Aviation is a key enabler of economic growth and social development which currently supports 56.6 million jobs and over $2.2 trillion of global GDP,” commented Paul Steele, Executive Director of ATAG. “Our sector has a strong track record of fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions savings working collaboratively as today’s flights are demonstrating.
“But we also need governments to step up and help craft the sustainable future we all want. Support for research and development of new technologies, sustainable biofuels for aviation and much-needed improvements in infrastructure are vital for aviation to be able to continue its positive role while minimising its environmental impact.”
Azul will separately conduct a test flight to Rio Santos Dumont using a fuel derived from sustainable sugar cane – these fuels have not yet been approved for commercial use – supplied by Amyris.
ICAO Council President Roberto Kobeh González said: “Such a collaborative enterprise showcases in a concrete manner that sustainable biofuels are now a reality. From camelina to used cooking oil or jatropha, advanced alternative fuels help save significant amounts of CO2 emissions while not competing for land or water with food crops.”