Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 with Mount Rainier in the background. Photo by Brandon Farris.
Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that they will operate 75 regularly schedule flights, using renewable bio-fuels starting tomorrow, November 9th. The maiden flight will leave from Seattle (SEA) to Washington, DC (DCA) and also Portland (PDX). The airline will fuel the aircraft using a 20% blend of biofuel made from used cooking oil.
Alaska is hoping that these flights will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 10%, which is equal to removing 26 cars from the road for a year. The impact of these few flights might seem minor, but if Alaska were to use the 20% biofuel mixture on all their flights, it would be the equivalent of removing 64,000 cars off of the road.
“This is a historic week for U.S. aviation.” Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer stated. “Commercial airplanes are equipped and ready for biofuels. They will enable us to fly cleaner, foster job growth in a new industry, and can insulate airlines from the volatile price swings of conventional fuel to help make air travel more economical. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it.”
The fuel mixture is being supplied by SkyNRG and made by Dynamic Fuels (who is in a partnership with Tyson Foods). These flights by Alaska are part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN) initiative, which was launched in July 2010 by Alaska Airlines, Boeing, Portland International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Spokane International Airport and Washington State University to promote aviation biofuel development.
United Airlines's first commercial advanced biofuel flight using a Boeing 737-800 (N76516) takes off from Houston yesterday. Photo by United.
Although there is a lot of excitement in the northwest for Alaska’s first flight on Wednesday, United Airlines operated a scheduled flight using biofuels yesterday, the 7th of November. Flight 1403, a Boeing 737-800, left from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Aiport (IAH) at about 10:30am local time for Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
“United is taking a significant step forward to advance the use of environmentally responsible and cost-efficient alternative fuels,” said Pete McDonald, United’s executive vice president and chief operations officer. “Sustainable biofuels, produced on a large scale at an economically viable price, can one day play a meaningful role in powering everyone’s trip on an airline.”
United also announced that they have signed a letter of intent to negotiate the purchase of 20 million gallons of biofuel per year, starting as early as 2014
United beat Alaska for a revenue biofuel flight by two days, but it is not clear when or if United will continue the biofuel flights. An email to United to get clarification on their future biofuel flights has not been returned by the time of posting this story.
Lufthansa Airbus A321 (D-AISE) coming from Hamburg.
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.
More on the topic: Source: Seattle PI/Lufthansa Image: Thomas Becker
* Alaska Airlines and Boeing work on BioFuels
* Air New Zealand tries out biofuels
What's left of American Airlines Flight 331 that crashed in Jamaica
I normally keep a nice little collection of stories I consider blogging. Sometimes I get too busy or other stories pop up and I just delete the ones that don’t make it to the blog. Even if these aren’t the most timely, I still think they are interesting and wanted to share:
* Amazing Photos of American Airlines Flight 331’s Boeing 737 that crashed in Jamaica (via NYCAviation). Flight Global talks about how the pilot was advised to use a different approach.
* US Department of Transportation finds Virgin America is a US Citizen (via Seattle PI). Some were accusing Virgin America as not following the rules to operate as a US company. As long as they make some changes they are in the clear.
* United Airlines has Unlimited Baggage Plan (via Flight Wisdom). For $249 per year, you and your closest 8 friends, on your same reservation, get to check up to two bags per trip for free. For the frequent traveler, this can be quite the savings. Read more.
* Boeing joins in study of potential biofuel source (via the Seattle PI). Boeing is working with others to find a viable saltwater-based plant for a more environmentally friendly jet fuel.
* Pilot rehired after gun discharged on plane (via Today in the Sky). Pilot’s gun went off during flight, he got fired, he fought it and US Airways hired him back on.
* Inside the Emirates A380 First Class shower (via Gadling). Take a close look at an airborne luxury most will never be able to afford. It might only be a five minute shower, but that can make all the difference on a very long flight.
* U.S. airlines set record for on-time flights in November (via Dallas Morning News). Almost 89% of flights in November were considered on-time. That is great for airlines and for passengers.
* California’s Surplus Chihuahuas Airlifted To New York (via NPR). Too many unwanted dogs were showing up in California and Virgin America flew them over to the east coast where nice homes were waiting for them. Thanks Selena for the tip!
connect | web | twitter | facebook |