Continental Airlines reports that the biofuel blend on its test flight performed better than traditional jet fuel
Biofuel testing on a CFM56-7B engine that was the type used for the demonstration flight (photo: CFM International)
Thu 18 Jun 2009 – Continental Airlines has announced that the results from its demonstration flight in January show the biofuel blend performed as well as, if not better than traditional jet fuel. The airline reports a 1.1 percent increase in fuel efficiency in different stages of the flight. Overall life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of the biofuel blend of algae and jatropha oils used on the flight are estimated to have been reduced by between 60 and 80 percent compared to standard jet fuel.
“We are pleased with the successful results of the biofuel demonstration flight,” said Leah Raney, Continental’s Managing Director of Global Environmental Affairs. “We look forward to working with our partners as biofuels go through the certification process, and we hope to see these fuels produced in commercial quantities in the near future.”
The 90-minute Continental flight was the first biofuel flight by a commercial carrier in North America, the first sustainable biofuel commercial two-engine aircraft flight and the first to use algae as a feedstock.
The aircraft’s No.2 engine operated with a blend consisting of 50 percent biologically-derived fuel and 50 percent traditional jet fuel. The algae oil was supplied by Sapphire Energy and the jatropha oil by Terasol Energy.
Because it was a drop-in fuel, no modifications were necessary to the aircraft or engine and after inspections post-flight, the aircraft returned to regular revenue service the next day.