The first biofuel test flight by a commercial airline was completed yesterday by Air New Zealand using a 50:50 blend of a jatropha-derived synthetic paraffinic kerosene and conventional Jet A1 fuel (named NZ-J50) in an Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400 on Tuesday.
The two-hour test flight took off from Auckland airport on Tuesday morning, with the jatropha-derived biofuel blend powering one of the four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.
This successful test should go a long way towards helping Air New Zealand hit its self-imposed target of displacing 10 percent of its 9 million barrels of fuel used annually with biofuels by 2013.
The Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, launched in September 2008, has chartered a peer- reviewed, independent life cycle and socio-economic sustainability research report of the NZ-J50 fuel, which is expected to be completed in September 2009.
It is reported that jatropha oil freezes at a lower temperature than even standard-grade jet fuel and is not used as a food source, making it an ideal choice for aviation biofuels. The oil for these tests was sourced from East Africa and India and is cost competitive with traditional fuels.