Industry body ATAG publishes guide to explain benefits of moving to new, cleaner sources of aviation biofuels
Fri 12 Jun 2009 – The Geneva-based Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) has launched a new publication, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Aviation Biofuels’, to inform industry employees and the public about sustainable aviation biofuels, which it believes will be in operational use on commercial flights within three to five years. It examines the key safety and technical criteria and testing process currently underway, while also looking at the challenges that remain if the industry is to maximize the potential of biofuels. A poll conducted by ATAG found that almost half of those surveyed did not know the difference between first and second generation biofuel supplies.
Paul Steele, Executive Director of ATAG, said: “We are standing at the beginning of a new era in aviation. For the first time we have identified a viable alternative to fossil fuels for commercial aviation. We have seen the age of flying boats, the jet age and the age of democratisation of air travel. In the next few years, we are preparing to enter the ‘biofuels age’ of flight.”
Steele said the biofuel flight tests by Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines and Continental Airlines were a success from both a safety and technical viewpoint.
“We are now confident that biofuels can be technically used in flight. There remain two major complexities: guaranteeing the biofuel we use is sustainable and doesn’t impact on food and water supplies; and ensuring we can get enough to use. The industry has called on governments to support potential biofuel suppliers in developing the necessary feedstock and refining systems until the fledgling sustainable aviation biofuels industry has achieved the necessary critical mass.
“While these are not minor hurdles, they are not insurmountable. After all, the history of aviation is marked by people achieving extraordinary things, despite the conventional wisdom of the time telling them it couldn’t be done. We feel the same way about the biofuels age of flight.”
From responses to the ATAG survey, 5% said biofuels would be available this year; 35% said in the next three to five years; 57% said between 2015 and 2030; and 3% said they would never be ready for use on commercial flights.
ATAG is the only aviation industry body that comprises the whole commercial air transport sector and counts among its members the large aircraft and engine manufacturers as well as the global associations representing airlines, airports and air traffic control. Its mandate focuses on ensuring the future growth of air transport is sustainable and highlighting the economic benefits that aviation brings to society. Currently, it is ensuring the industry has a coordinated approach to tackling climate change impacts.