There have been quite a few airlines testing out different biofuels, but none that have run biofuels on a long-term basis during scheduled passenger service. Starting in April 2011, Lufthansa will start a six month trial using an Airbus A321 on scheduled flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt using biofuel.
Only one of the A321’s engines will be using a 50-50 mix of biofuel and normal aviation fuel. They hope to use this six months to see how the use of biofuel will affect maintenance and engine life. The A321 will have a unique set up since it will only fly this route and only be fueled in Hamburg. Normally aircraft are used on different routes and can be fueled at almost any airport.
During the six month trial, Lufthansa expects to save about 1,500 tons of CO2 emissions. “Lufthansa will be the world’s first airline to utilize biofuel in flight operations within the framework of a long-term trial. This is a further consistent step in a proven sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for many years successfully pursued and implemented,” said Lufthansa Chief Wolfgang Mayrhuber.
This project, that Lufthansa is calling “burnFAIR,” is being funded in part by the German government. The government is investing about $3.3 million (2.5 million Euros) into the project, where Lufthansa is investing about $8.7 million (6.6 million Euros). The goal is to find a viable alternative to standard aviation fuel that can power airlines around the world with less emissions and be sustainable.
The use of biofuel is one element in a four-pillar strategy aimed at reducing overall emissions in air traffic at Lufthansa. Environmental goals can only be achieved in the future with a combination of various measures, like ongoing fleet renewal, operational measures such as engine washing and infrastructural improvements. Cheers to Lufthansa taking this next step, I will be very interested to see how it works out.Seattle PI/Lufthansa Image: Thomas Becker