Photo: Doug Peters/PA Wire
It can be hard for the environmentally minded AvGeek to get on a flight without a twinge of guilt, since planes spew tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every minute of every day. Over recent years, the industry has slowly started wising up to the importance of sustainability. We’ve seen some airlines introduce biofuels derived from plant products. But today, the field takes a new leap forward.
The Boeing 747 flying Virgin Atlantic’s flight #16 today from Orlando to London Gatwick will be powered by a unique sustainable jet fuel that’s recycled from carbon-containing waste gases from industries like steel mills. The result is a product that has proven at least as powerful as regular jet fuel but with a significantly lower carbon footprint. The flight is the outcome of a partnership between Virgin Atlantic and LanzaTech, which developed the fuel. Partners like Boeing, Honeywell, GE, fuel suppliers, and the DOE played a significant role as well.
The star of the show. Or stars, if you include the fuel tanker. – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
We’ll be on the inaugural flight and will be back later with a full report. For the time being, check out our Twitter feed for live updates. Here’s to a greener future for aviation!
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 heading out of Las Vegas
In years past, Southwest Airlines has been known to consistently make a profit. However, Southwest wasn’t able to keep up in the economic downturn and the end of hedged fuel prices. Then the airline saw three quarters of losses, but no more!
Southwest announced today that it made $54 million during the second quarter this year. This is far less than the $321 million they made during the same time last year, but better than being in the red.
Of course, like most of the world economy, Southwest is not fully in the clear. They are still taking a careful approach to the near future. Southwest chairman and chief executive officer Gary Kelly points out that, “demand for business travel remains weak, and we continue to stimulate traffic with more discounted and promotional fares.” He isn’t confident that Southwest will see a profit for the third quarter. Southwest is cutting about 4% or 1,400 employee positions through early-out offers, hoping to keep the airline profitable.
To compare, Continental Airlines posted a loss of $213 million, American Airlines posted a $390 million loss and United Airlines posted a $28 million profit. Additional airlines should be posting their second quarter results in the next day or so.
Boeing is working to allow their jets to run off a bio fuel made from algae. Of course we all like the idea of fuel that isn’t as bad for the environment, but one of the benefits of this type of fuel is that jatropha (the image above and where the fuel is made from) is a nonfood plant (at least for us humans).
E85 Ethanol fuel has seen the ramifications of using a food plant where the prices rise dramatically as the price of corn rose.
Currently Continental Airlines is working on flying one engine of a 737-800 on a fuel mixture.
This looks promising. Goldman Sachs recently stated that, “Jatropha curcas as one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production.”
Source: KOMO Image: TheLandScaper