First-ever transatlantic aviation biofuel flight sets up week of alternative aviation fuel events at Paris Air Show
The GEnx-2B engines of the 747-8 Freighter (photo: Boeing)
Thu 16 June 2011 – Aviation biofuels are likely to receive a high profile at this year’s Paris Air Show that starts on Monday when Boeing will fly in its new 747-8 freighter from the US having been powered by a biofuel blend, so marking not only the plane’s international show debut but also the first transatlantic crossing of a commercial airliner using a sustainable biofuel. Each of the freighter’s four GE GEnx-2B engines will be powered by a blend of 15 per cent camelina-based fuel and 85 per cent traditional Jet-A kerosene. Another transatlantic biofuel flight is also expected but details have not been released. During the air show, a major US-led initiative will be showcasing efforts on alternative aviation fuels, with a number of presentations and panel sessions taking place with leading biofuel companies and airlines participating.
Commenting on the Boeing arrival, 747-8 Vice President and General Manager Elizabeth Lund said: “This historic flight is a boost to aviation’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency in all phases of our industry. And the 747-8 Freighter fits in well with these efforts by bringing huge improvements in fuel efficiency, lower carbon emissions and less noise.”
The airplane is due to arrive at Le Bourget Airport, the site of the show, on Monday afternoon after a 4,335 nautical mile (8,029km) trip. The camelina was sourced from Montana, where it is grown as a rotation crop with wheat, and was processed by Honeywell UOP.
Camelina has been used for a number of biofuel test flights, including those carried out by KLM and Japan Airlines, as well as by the US Air Force. A study by Michigan Technological University found that camelina-derived jet fuel can reduce emissions by up to 84%.
According to Boeing, the 747-8 freighter required no modifications to the airplane, engines or operating procedures to accommodate the biofuel blend, and normal flight parameters are being followed and have been approved by the US FAA.
In its latest market outlook just published, Boeing has upped its forecast of a year earlier in the number of new commercial aircraft that will be bought over the next 20 years, in which a doubling of the world’s airline fleet will take place, with much of the increased demand coming from the Asia-Pacific region. From a forecast of 30,900 new airplanes last year, Boeing is now anticipating a market for 33,500 through till 2030, with a value of $4 trillion. Following average worldwide air travel growth of 5% since 1980, Boeing expects the trend to continue with an annual average of 4.1% growth in passenger volume, 5.1% in passenger miles and 5.6% in cargo.
The Alternative Aviation Fuels Showcase will be taking place throughout the Paris Air Show in Hall 3 (stand E118-140), and is being organised by the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) in association with Kallman, which is responsible for US exhibitor participation at the show, and GIFAS, the show organisers. VIP and delegation visits are scheduled for the first day, Monday 20 June, and panel and sponsor sessions are scheduled to take place during the trade show days in a presentation theatre.
The third day, Wednesday 22 June, has been designated Investors Day. “An important aspect of the programme is the outreach effort underway to attract aerospace and fuel sector investors to meet the participants and get first-hand information about opportunities opening up in the alternative aviation fuels industry. A number of investor-focused events are planned,” explains Carole Lotito of Kallman.
Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, Qantas and United are supporting the Showcase. Exhibitors include the Air Transport Association, AltAir Fuels, Amyris/TOTAL, Axens, Florida Gulf Coast University, Gevo, Heliae, Lanzatech, Metron, Neste, Sapphire Energy, SkyNRG, Solazyme, Solena and Honeywell UOP.
The Boeing 747-8 biofuel flight, which does not arrive in Paris until tomorrow (Monday, 20th), has been pipped to the post as the first flight to cross the Atlantic to be partially powered by a sustainably-sourced biofuel. A Honeywell-operated Gulfstream G450 business jet made a non-stop crossing from New Jersey, arriving at Le Bourget yesterday morning. The aircraft closely followed the route taken by Charles Lindbergh on his historic flight from Long Island to Le Bourget in 1927. Lindbergh’s single-seater, single-engine ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ took nearly 34 hours to cover the 5,800 kilometres distance, compared to the Gulfstream’s seven hours.
The biofuel was derived from camelina, the same feedstock to be used on the 747-8 flight. It was grown and harvested by US-producer Sustainable Oils and processed by Honeywell UOP into Honeywell Green Jet Fuel. A 50/50 blend of Green Jet Fuel and conventional kerosene was used to power one of the Gulfstream’s Rolls-Royce engines.
Honewell estimates that based on lifecycle analyses, the biofuel saved around 5.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The company disclosed it has produced more than 700,000 gallons of its Green Jet Fuel from sustainable sources such as camelina, jatropha and algae for use in commercial and military testing.
“Now that the initial ASTM International approval is in place, we are one step closer to commercial use that will help the aviation community reduce its carbon footprint and dependence on crude,” said Jim Rekoske, VP and GM of Renewable Energy and Chemicals for UOP.
Tom Todaro, CEO of Sustainable Oils, commented: “With more than 500,000 gallons produces, camelina-based renewable jet fuel has been the most widely tested of any feedstock and has proven itself on more engine types and aircraft. It’s the only sustainable feedstock that is widely and commercially available today.”
More details and video of the flight available here