Qantas trials cooking oil in biofuels flight

Qantas has a long-term plan to reduce its fuel bill. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Qantas has a long-term plan to reduce its fuel bill. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Qantas will use recycled American cooking oil to help power a biofuel trial flight tomorrow.

The aircraft will use a mix of biofuel and conventional jet fuel for the Sydney-Adelaide return service. Produced by Dutch firm SkyNRG, the fuel has been used by several other airlines.

Qantas says its "life cycle" carbon footprint is around 60 per cent smaller than that of conventional jet fuel. It is part of a long-term plan to reduce a fuel bill that totalled A$3.6 billion last year.

The airline said the goal of the flights was to raise awareness about the potential for sustainable aviation fuel in Australia.

Spokesman Tom Woodward said that while other airlines had run biofuel flights, debate about alternative aviation fuel in Australia had been limited.

The production of biofuels for aviation was now well advanced, he said.

"What we want to do is take the next step and see how we can produce it in Australia.

"To some extent we've been cautious about not wanting to do a flight for the sake of it. We want to build some momentum over here."

Bookings for the 90-minute to two-hour flight were solid, he said.

Fuel was the biggest operational cost for Qantas and like other airlines it faced carbon emission charging.

Dutch airline KLM, Chile's LAN and Finnair have trialled SkyNRG fuels which come from a variety of feedstocks besides used cooking oil.

At the end of 2008 Air New Zealand successfully ran a trial in which it powered a Boeing 747 with a 50:50 blend of imported jatropha biofuel and traditional jet fuel and is looking for local alternatives. Last December it signed an agreement with Australian firm Licella to examine the development and commercialisation of a process to convert woody biomass into biofuel.

- NZ Herald

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