After much anticipation, on January 30th Japan Airlines successfully completed a test flight utilizing 50% biofuels in one engine of an unmodified Boeing 747-300 aircraft. The test flight lasted approximately 90 minutes flying from the Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan. Although several carriers have shown that biofuel can be used in jet fuel, this is the first successful commercial flight utilizing the substance.
The flight maintained normal operations during all phases of acceleration and start-up. The biofuel mixture used was produced from 84% cameline, supplied by Sustainable Oils, Inc.; 16% jatropha, supplied by Terasol Energy; and 1% algae, supplied by Sapphire Energy. No modifications for the engine were required to complete the flight. In most cases, no modification is needed to use biofuels. The project was a joint effort between Japan Airlines who conducted the flight and U.S. based Pratt and Whitney who supplied the engine.
The results of the flight now prove biofuel’s performance capabilities and potential for regular use in a commercial environment. According to Captain Keiji Kobayashi, pilot for the test flight, “Everything went smoothly. There was no difference at all in the performance of the engine powered by the biofuel blend, and the other three engines containing regular jet fuel.”
“Today is an extremely important day for Japan Airlines, for aviation, and for the environment,” said JAL president Haruka Nishimatsu. “The demonstration flight brings us ever closer to finding a greener alternative to traditional petroleum-based fuel.”