China lands first biofuel-powered passenger flight

China has landed its first ever passenger flight using sustainable biofuels, hailed as a key environmental milestone for the country’s commercial aviation industry.

Saturday’s Hainan Airlines flight from Shanghai to Beijing used biofuel produced by Sinopec from waste cooking oil collected from local restaurants. Both engines in the Boeing 737-800 were powered by a 50:50 fuel blend of aviation biofuel mixed with regular petroleum jet fuel.

“We are honoured to see our airplane fly on sustainable aviation biofuel from Shanghai to our nation’s capital,” said Pu Ming, vice president of Hainan Airlines, who piloted the plane. “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.”

Boeing, Hainan Airlines, and Sinopec said in a statement that the fuel can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 80 per cent compared to petroleum fuel over its lifetime and could help meet environmental goals.

Aviation currently accounts for about three per cent of global emissions, but this proportion is expected to rise significantly as global trade increases and other sectors decarbonise. The Boeing Current Market Outlook has forecast that China will require 6,020 new airplanes by 2033 to meet fast-growing passenger demand for domestic and international air travel.

As a result, biofuels are critically important for aviation given the difficulty in decarbonising the sector with any other current technology.

The emissions benefits of greener fuels have encouraged a range of carriers from BA to Virgin, Lufthansa and KLM to experiment with fuels made from crops, waste products or algae. In 2011, Air China conducted China’s first aviation biofuel test flight in a Boeing 747-400 using a jatropha-based biofuel.

However, critics argue growing crops for fuel restricts food production while questioning whether there is enough waste, algae or other feedstock to supply a global industry.

 

Photo: Hainan Airlines service from Shanghai to Beijing uses 50:50 blend of used cooking oil from restaurants and standard jet fuel

View original article at: China lands first biofuel-powered passenger flight

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