Page last updated at 01:32 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Airline tests tropical fruit fuel

Advertisement

The Air New Zealand biofuel aircraft makes its maiden flight

A passenger plane has completed a two-hour test flight partly powered by fuel derived from a tropical fruit.

Air New Zealand hailed the flight as a "milestone" in the development of sustainable fuels that could lower aeroplane emissions.

One engine of the Boeing 747-400 was fuelled by a 50-50 mixture of jatropha plant oil and standard A1 jet fuel.

A Virgin Atlantic test flight in February used fuel derived from a blend of Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts.

In Auckland on Tuesday, a range of tests were completed both on the ground and during the flight, said Air New Zealand chief pilot David Morgan.

He said the oil from the plum-sized jatropha fruit performed "well through both the fuel system and engine".

Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said the completion of Tuesday's flight was "a milestone for the airline and commercial aviation".

The International Air Transport Association says it wants a 10th of aviation fuel to come from biofuels by 2017.

Critics of biofuels are opposed to turning arable land over to the cultivation of biofuels at the expense of growing food.

However, the fruit from jatropha trees is toxic to humans and the plant can be grown in poor, marginal soils.

But questions have been raised about the plants' suitability as a biofuel because harvesting the fruit is labour intensive and the quality of the yield can be inconsistent.

Tuesday's flight was the first time the fuel had been used partly to power an aircraft, but the biodiesel has been used in cars and trains in Asia for a number of years.

Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Biofuel trial flight set for 747
28 Sep 07 |  Science & Environment
Q&A: Aviation emissions
20 Aug 07 |  Science & Environment
Biofuels 'are not a magic bullet'
22 Feb 08 |  Science & Environment
Quick guide: Biofuels
24 Jan 07 |  Science & Environment
Biofuels look to the next generation
18 Sep 06 |  Science & Environment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific