Air China has successfully completed a demonstration flight using a sustainable biofuel derived from biomass grown in China. The project, which is a partnership with Boeing, Honeywell UOP, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, PetroChina and Pratt & Whitney, marked two firsts: It was the first sustainable biofuel flight in China and the first flight with sustainable biofuel grown and produced in China.
The Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered Boeing 747 completed an approximately one-hour flight using a biofuel derived from Jatropha curcas seeds. That biofuel is classified as a drop-in replacement for petroleum-based fuel, meaning neither the aircraft nor the engine required any modification. A spokesperson for Pratt & Whitney told AIN its still difficult to predict how long it will be before a practical application for biofuel will emerge in China, but she was optimistic about the role of biofuel in aviation, in general. “In North America you might see three to five percent of aviation fuel coming from alternative sources by the end of the decade,” she said. The flight was completed as part of the Energy Cooperation Program’s sustainable biofuel program.