Biofuel Flights Take Dignitaries to UN Conference

 - June 25, 2012, 1:15 PM
Biofuel made from sugar cane helped power an Azul Embraer E195 from Campinas to Rio de Janeiro. (Photo: Embraer)

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) served as an ideal destination this week for a series of biofuel demonstration flights that transported, among others, ICAO secretary general Raymond Benjamin to Rio de Janeiro for the sessions.

On June 18 a Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 partly powered with camelina and brassica carinata oil flew Benjamin from Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport for the first leg of his trip to Rio. Following his flight to Toronto, Benjamin flew on an Air Canada Airbus A319 powered with 50-percent used cooking oil supplied by SkyNRG to Mexico City, where a Boeing 777-200 flown by Aeroméxico and powered by an ASA-supplied jet fuel using camelina, jatropha and used cooking oil took him to São Paulo, Brazil.

The last leg of Benjamin’s journey saw him fly on Brazil’s Gol Airlines on June 19 aboard a Boeing 737-800 using fuel derived from inedible corn oil and used cooking oil supplied by UOP, a Honeywell company.

Dubbed Flightpath to a Sustainable Future, the ICAO initiative marked the first-ever series of connecting flights powered by sustainable alternative fuels.

Also on June 19, KLM conducted another biofuel flight to the conference in Rio from Amsterdam on a Boeing 777-200 powered by used cooking oil produced by SkyNRG.

Passengers included Dutch state secretary of infrastructure and the environment Joop Atsma. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that from 2013 Dutch officials on government business will travel as much as possible on biofuel flights, including the government’s own aircraft,” promised Atsma.

Separately, on the same day an Azul Airlines Embraer E195 traveled from Campinas Viracopos Airport to Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport on jet fuel produced from Brazilian sugar cane by Amyris of Emeryville, California.

A lifecycle analysis and sustainability study sponsored by Brazilian think-tank Institute for International Trade Negotiations showed that the Amyris renewable jet fuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 82 percent compared with conventional fossil-derived jet fuel.