Swedish regional airline BRA undertakes first biofuel flight of a turboprop ATR 72-600
BRA ATR 72-600 refuelled with jet biofuel blend at Bromma
Tue 7 Feb 2017 – Swedish carrier BRA, formerly Braathens Regional, has carried out a commercial flight using a blended biofuel sourced from used cooking oil, marking a first for both the airline and turboprop aircraft manufacturer ATR. The ATR 72-600 flew from Stockholm’s city airport Bromma to Umeå in northern Sweden, a flight distance of around 500 kilometres. With Swedish forests covering over half the country, there are several national research and development projects currently underway to produce sustainable biofuels from forestry residues in the near future. BRA said the flight was an initiative to show its commitment to the environment, while ATR pointed to the environmental performance of the ATR 72-600 and its lowest fuel consumption per seat in its aircraft category.
The fuel for the BRA flight was supplied by Air BP and was sourced and blended 45/55 with conventional fuel in California. The airline and ATR expect further biofuel flights once locally-sourced biofuels become available. They estimate that with Swedish forests growing at a rate of 120 million cubic metres per year, making domestic air traffic in Sweden completely fossil-free would require less than 2% of the total annual forest growth.
The Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer, which equips the fleets of some 200 airlines in nearly 100 countries with below-90-seat regional aircraft, said it is working to encourage the use of alternative fuels and is willing to support customers and local governments in developing a full business plan, from fuel selection to routing, certification and availability.
“Today’s challenge is to get a large-scale production of biofuels at affordable costs while avoiding a negative impact on the environment,” said ATR CEO Christian Scherer. “Swedish Airlines like BRA can take advantage of the massive expansion of its forests, along with the operation of fuel-efficient turboprops, to reach the ambitious goal of halving their CO2 emissions by 2025.”
Responded BRA CEO Christian Clemens: “The ATR 72-600, especially if powered by biofuel, is the optimal transportation on many of our routes and features the highest standards of environmental care.”
Criticising a potential new environmental tax on aviation in the country, he added: “It will have a minimal impact on emissions, and will unfortunately slow down the pace at which we can continue to make aviation more sustainable.”
BRA carries a third of the domestic passengers in Sweden, operating 13 routes in the country, and originates from former operators Braathens Aviation, Braathens Regional, Malmö Aviation and Sverigeflyg. Malmö Aviation was one of the founding partners of the Nordic Initiative for Sustainable Aviation that was launched in 2013 (see article). The first Swedish biofuel flights took place in 2014 following a decision by sustainable fuel supplier SkyNRG and Statoil to establish a jet fuel BioPort at Karlstad Airport (see article).