Daily Lufthansa flights by an Airbus A321 between Hamburg and Frankfurt from April next year will be the world’s first scheduled commercial passenger flights by an aircraft using biofuel.
The flights will operate for an initial six month period under the ‘burnFAIR’ research project and will be powered by a 50:50 biofuel blend mixing conventional jet fuel with hydrotreated vegetable oil (or HVO) provided by Finland’s Neste Oil (and produced from sustainable feedstock sources).
“We see great opportunities in the use of bio-synthetic kerosene,” said Lufthansa CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber. “But we are first gathering experience with it in daily practice. Indeed, Lufthansa is the world’s first airline to utilise biofuel in flight operations. This is a further consistent step in the sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for years been successfully pursuing.”
Lufthansa estimates it will save around 1500 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the trial.
“Our ‘burnFAIR’ project is designed to research the long term alternatives to conventional aviation jet fuel,” said Prof Dr Johann-Dietrich Wörner, chairman of the executive board of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). “The object is to gather data on pollutants from biofuel in comparison with conventional kerosene over a longer period. The measured pollution pattern related to diverse stresses in flight and the composition of the exhaust gases will allow us not only to draw conclusions about the compatibility of biofuel but also about the maintenance needs of aircraft engines. Since, above all, we expect a significant reduction in soot particles.”
The trial will cost Lufthansa an estimated E6.6m (A$9.0m). Lufthansa says the A321 will only be fuelled in Hamburg, and that a wide range of processes must be modified to accommodate the restrictions of deploying an individual aircraft exclusively on a single route.
Certification of Neste Oil’s biofuel is expected in March 2011.