Home' Asian Aviation : AAV April 2011 Contents 16 AsianAviation | APRIL 2011
William Dennis / Singapore
Lu hansa will become the rst airline
to use biofuel on commercial ights
in April, when it starts a six-month
trial using an Airbus A321 aircra on
the Hamburg-Frankfurt route.
One of the aircraft s two
International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500
powerplants will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and
The German airline s Chief Executive Officer
Wolfgang Mayrhuber says the primary goal is to
conduct a long-term trial to study the e ect of biofuel
on engine maintenance and engine life. During the
six-month trial, Lu hansa estimates it will cut its
carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,500 tonnes.
With its current national Aeronautical Research
Programme (LuFo), the German government is
supporting the country s aviation industry in its
e orts to establishing a safe, clean air tra c system.
Close to 77 percent of LuFo funding is directly
or indirectly related to the environment and
Lufthansa s 'burnFAIR alternative-fuel testing
project is part of its overall 'Future Aircra Research
(FAIR) initiative, which also tackles other issues such
as new engine and aircra concepts. e German
government is contributing 5 million euros towards
FAIR, half of which is for fuel research.
e burnFAIR project is intended to research
viable alternatives to conventional aviation fuel.
Among its aims is to gather long-term data on
pollutants from biofuel compared with those
produced by conventional kerosene.
e measured data will allow Lu hansa not only
to draw conclusions about biofuel compatibility, but
also about related engine-maintenance needs. e
airline expects to nd a signi cant reduction in soot
particles, for example.
"Aside from the actual research programme, the
acquisition of biofuel in su cient quantity and the
complex logistics had proved a challenge in the run-
up to the trial," Mayrhuber says. e aircra can be
fuelled up only in Hamburg.
e project will cost Lu hansa an estimated 6.6
million euros (US$9.24 million).
"In the procurement of biofuel, we ensure it
originates from a sustainable supply and production
process. Our licensed suppliers must provide proof of
the sustainability of their processes," Mayrhuber said.
e bio-synthetic kerosene used by Lu hansa is
produced by Neste Oil, a fuel re ning and marketing
company based in Finland. e company has years of
experience in biofuel production and has cooperated
with Lu hansa for many years. e fuel has been
awarded International Sustainability and Carbon
Certi cation, a strict sustainability check recognised
by German authorities.
Biofuel use is just one element in a four-pillar
strateg y aimed at reducing overall air tra c emissions.
"Ambitious environmental goals can only be
achieved in future with a combination of various
measures, like ongoing eet renewal, operational
measures such as engine washing and infrastructural
enhancements," Mayrhuber says.
Projects dedicated to these themes are also
underway under the national LuFo research
programme. Lu hansa itself has improved its fuel-
e ciency by 30 percent since 1991. Average fuel
consumption per passenger is now down to 4.3 litres
of kerosene per 100km own.
IATA spokesman Albert Tjoeng says one of the
main reasons for operational biofuel trials such as
Lu hansa s is to examine issues such as introducing
the fuel into airports delivery systems.
"It is also a positive sign of the con dence the
industry has shown in biofuels and will be an
indication to suppliers that aviation is a serious
customer [that] they should be supplying in the mid-
to long-term," Tjoeng says.
In June 2010, IATA Director General and Chief
Executive O cer Giovanni Bisignani predicted that
airlines could be operating commercial ights with
biofuel within three to ve years. e issue, according
to IATA, is no longer technological but commercial,
as synthetic fuel blends have already been approved
for commercial use.
Biofuel blends have already been used in test
ights by carriers including Virgin Atlantic, Air New
Zealand, Air China and Japan Airlines. However,
the certification and testing of biofuels is still
underway. With di erent feedstocks and di erent
methods used in production, certi cation remains a
complicated and extended process, but is required to
ensure guaranteed performance for airlines.
With the price of oil surging once again and 4,000
airlines scheduled to come under the European
Union s Emissions Trading Scheme from 2012, there
is a good deal of urgency to this research.
EU climate action commissioner Connie
Hedegaard says aviation-related emissions are
growing faster than those produced by any other
industry. "Firm action is needed," she says. n
'Ambitious environmental goals can only be achieved in future
with a combination of various measures,'
-- Wolfgang Mayrhuber
ansa will fuel one
e of an Airbus
with a biofuel
over six months.
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