KLM and SkyNRG start new series of long-haul sustainable jet fuel flights to the Caribbean as part of ITAKA project
Fri 16 May 2014 – KLM has started a series of 20 long-haul sustainable jet fuel flights from Amsterdam to the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Bonaire as part of the ITAKA initiative, which is aimed at speeding up the development and commercialisation of such fuels in Europe. The first flight in the series took off today en route to Aruba and marks the longest biofuel flight performed by an Airbus aircraft. The 10-hour flight is powered by a 20 per cent blend made of used cooking oil supplied by leading sustainable aviation biofuel provider SkyNRG, a partner in ITAKA. Funded by the European Union, the initiative is a collaborative project that aims to link supply and demand by establishing relationships among feedstock growers and producers, biofuel producers, distributors and airlines. The flight will be met by Aruba Prime Minister Michiel Godfried Eman.
For KLM, the new series of flights to the Dutch Caribbean follows the series between New York and Amsterdam last year. “I am proud that once again KLM is demonstrating its pioneering role in sustainable aviation fuels, together with new partners, the European Commission and Airbus,” commented Camiel Eurlings, the airline’s CEO.
Airbus will collect data before, during and after the flight involving the engine fuel system and conduct engine performance analysis in order to provide insights into the use of non-petroleum based fuels compared to traditional fuels.
“As the lead aircraft manufacturer, our participation in the ITAKA initiative with KLM using an A330-200 – the most fuel-efficient aircraft in its category – is key to our role as a catalyst in the commercialisation of sustainable jet fuels,” said Andrea Debbané, Airbus Vice President of Environment Affairs. “We are very happy to have the support of the European Union in the project, supporting the aviation industry’s initiative to develop sustainable biofuels for aviation.”
Including Airbus and SkyNRG, ITAKA (Initiative Towards sustainable Kerosene for Aviation) has 11 partners from eight European countries: SENASA, Neste Oil, Camelina Company España, Manchester Metropolitan University, RE-CORD, CLH, EPFL and Biotehgen, along with representation from Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.
The project is part of a European goal of achieving annual sustainable aviation fuels production of two million tonnes by 2020.
“The main objective of ITAKA is to support the development of aviation biofuels in an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable manner, improving the readiness of existing technology and infrastructures,” said Maria de la Riva Iglesias of SENASA.
“These demonstration activities represent the longest programme of commercial biojet flights reported to date. The outcome of these flights will generate valuable data such as engine and fuel systems performance as a result of the biofuel use. This data will be compared against standard fossil kerosene usage parameters in order to assess its behaviour and promote the use of biofuels in the aviation sector.”
Although used cooking oil is the biofuel for the KLM flight series, progressively the fuel for the next set of flights is foreseen to come from the energy crop camelina sativa, which is being currently grown and processed for this purpose, she reported.
SkyNRG’s CEO Dirk Kronemeijer is hopeful that the company will soon be able to supply its key customer and founder, KLM, with biofuel produced in Holland. “This goal will be achieved within the BioPort Holland project, which we initiated with our consortium partners KLM, Schiphol, Neste Oil, the Dutch government and the Port of Rotterdam.”
He revealed that Friesland Campina and Ricoh have joined the KLM Corporate BioFuel Programme. “These leading green corporations will be able to fly on sustainable jet fuel for a portion of their total flight volume, thereby stimulating the further development of biofuels and reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint,” said SkyNRG. The two companies join 11 other partners in the programme, which include Heineken, Accenture, Nike, Philips, Siemens and Schiphol Group.