SpiceJet operates first biofuel flight

By: | Published: August 28, 2018 4:34 AM

Though the country’s first biofuel-powered flight was tested with the landing of a SpiceJet’s aircraft in the Capital from Dehradun on Monday, the commercial use of biofuel in the aviation sector is still some years away.

SpiceJet chairman and MD Ajay Singh reacts after landing of the first flight running on biofuel, at the Delhi airport terminal on Monday. (PTI)

Though the country’s first biofuel-powered flight was tested with the landing of a SpiceJet’s aircraft in the Capital from Dehradun on Monday, the commercial use of biofuel in the aviation sector is still some years away. Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said the government is working on a policy for biojet fuel use in the aviation sector but what is available currently is not enough for commercial operations. “We are still far away from commercial operation of flight by biojet fuel. It was a technology demonstration and turned out to be successful. We are working towards a policy for it. We have to first ensure that there is mass production of biofuel,” Gadkari explained.

He was supported by experts. “The bio fuel was prepared in a lab. Clearly, it is not enough for commercial operations. We need tonnes of oil seeds for it,” IIP director Anjan Kumar Ray said while adding that it took six months of preparations to conduct this test flight.

Civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said the use of biofuel would be promoted under the proposed aviation action plan. “The aviation action plan, laying the foundation for the growth of aviation sector, will prioritise biofuel. It is cost-friendly and protects the environment. It will be given special emphasis going forward,” he said.

SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said the use of biojet fuel could deliver savings of around 15-20% on ATF for airlines. “The biojet fuel has the potential to reduce cost of aviation in India by 15-20%. It can bring down  fares for consumers as well apart reducing carbon emissions,” Singh told reporters.

On Monday, a bombardier Q400 plane, having a blend of 75% aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and 25% biojet fuel, took off from Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun for a successful landing at the capital’s Indira Gandhi International airport.

The biojet fuel used in the test aircraft was made of jatropha crop which is an oil producing seed. Biofuel refers to the fuel produced directly or indirectly from organic matter such as agricultural residues, edible oils and municipal waste.

The Netherlands’ KLM was the first airline in the world to execute a commercial flight with bikher fuels in 2011. The carrier offers a daily flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam using the alternative energy source. As per international norm, up to 50% of biofuel is allowed to mix with the traditional fuel for the aviation industry.

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