Hainan Airlines partners with Sinopec and Boeing on first biofuel-powered Chinese domestic commercial flight
Mon 23 Mar 2015 – Hainan Airlines has become the first China-based carrier to carry out a commercial flight using sustainable aviation biofuel. Both engines of the scheduled flight on Saturday (Mar 21) between Shanghai and Beijing of a CFM56-7B-powered Boeing 737-800 aircraft carried a fuel blend made up of around 50 per cent of biofuel sourced from waste cooking oil that came from Chinese restaurants and mixed with conventional jet fuel. The biofuel was supplied by China’s biggest oil refiner Sinopec, which last year was awarded a licence by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) permitting the use of its jet biofuels in commercial flight operations. The Hainan flight was to have coincided with another flight on the same day of an Airbus A330-300 by Cathay Pacific subsidiary Dragonair between Shanghai and Hong Kong using the same batch of fuel but this did not take place due to certification issues with the fuel. (see updated article).
Commenting on the Hainan flight, the airline’s Vice President, Pu Ming, who piloted the plane, said: “We are honoured to see our airplane fly on sustainable aviation biofuel from Shanghai to our nation’s capital. As a fast-growing domestic and international carrier, Hainan Airlines is demonstrating our environmental commitment by showing that aviation biofuel can play a safe and effective role in China’s air transport system.”
In May 2013, Sinopec produced and supplied a blended biofuel made up of waste cooking oil and palm oil for a test flight carried out from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport by a China Eastern Airlines’ Airbus A320 aircraft (see article).
The Hainan Airlines flight, carried out together with Boeing and China National Aviation Fuel, was another milestone, said Sinopec. “For many years, Sinopec has maintained a leadership role in China in terms of development and application of biomass fuel including aviation biofuel and bio-diesel,” said a spokesperson. “This full represents an earnest commitment to continuously advance scientific and technological innovation and promote green and low-emission development.”
Boeing’s record on aviation biofuels in China goes back to 2011, when it partnered on China’s first-ever aviation biofuel demonstration flight of an Air China 747-400 that used China-grown jatropha-based biofuel. It is currently cooperating with fellow aircraft manufacturer COMAC and several research institutions, including Chinese Academy of Science’s Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, on aviation biofuel development.
According to its Current Market Outlook, Boeing forecasts China will require over 6,000 new commercial aircraft by 2033 to meet fast-growing passenger demand for domestic and international air travel. The country is said to have abundant biomass resources and huge quantities of waste cooking oil, estimated at around 28 million tonnes a year.