China Eastern extends its environmental responsibilities with biofuel test flight and fuel-saving Sharklet wing-tips
China Eastern has taken delivery of China's first Airbus A320 to be equipped with Sharklets (photo: Airbus)
Thu 23 May 2013 – China Eastern Airlines has conducted a first test flight of a biofuel blend sourced and produced in China. The airline carried out the 85-minute flight from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport using an Airbus A320 aircraft following a series of ground-based engine performance tests of the CAAC-certified fuel. The hybrid China Jet Biofuel-1 product, made up of used cooking oil and palm oil, was developed jointly by China Eastern, China Petroleum Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) and China Aviation Oil Holding Company, with Sinopec producing and supplying the blended fuel. The airline has also just taken delivery of its first A320 aircraft equipped with Sharklet fuel-saving wing-tip devices, becoming China’s first carrier to do so. It says it is committed to being a domestic industry leader in environmental protection.
The biofuel test flight crew, selected from the airline’s most experienced personnel, carried out biofuel temperature measurements during the cruise phase, impact of the biofuel at altitude and pre-flight and post-flight checks of the engine probes and ports. Other data were recorded during the flight to assess quality, safety and fuel economy, reports the airline.
“This is a breakthrough as well as a milestone for Chinese civil aviation in terms of our own development of aviation biofuel production,” China Eastern Airlines’ Michelle Lipan told GreenAir. “As a trend-setting air carrier in China, we are committed to fulfilling our social responsibilities in terms of environmental protection and sustainable development.”
The airline, one of China’s largest, became the first Airbus operator in 1985 and now operates a fleet of over 230 Airbus aircraft. The Airbus Tianjin Delivery Centre has delivered 126 new aircraft since June 2009 and plans to deliver 46 more this year. Delivered and entering commercial service last week, the China Eastern Sharklet-fitted A320 was also the first such aircraft assembled by the Centre. The airline says it is planning 97 more aircraft to be fitted with the devices, which Airbus says can save operators up to four per cent fuel burn on longer range sectors.
Next year, China Eastern will begin its trans-Pacific fleet renewal programme, replacing four-engined Airbus A340 aircraft with twin-engined Boeing 777s, which it estimates will save around one ton of fuel per hour.
The airline is also undertaking other environmental efforts and last year became a Chinese civil aviation pioneer of Less Paper Cockpits, and Level-1 Electronic Flight Bags have been introduced into its A330 fleet. China Eastern has also started using natural and biodegradable materials in its cabin catering.