Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic airline will conduct a test flight at the end of the month wherein a Boeing 747 will fly from London to Amsterdam using an 80/20 blend of conventional fuel and biofuel, respectively. The plane will carry no passengers but will be “the first time a commercial aircraft has flown on biofuel,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Branson announced this little experiment last year and analysts posited that it could be done by the end of 2008. With this experiment, Virgin announced that it’s about 10 months ahead of schedule. How do you like them apples? Not only is something in the technology happening ahead of schedule without being delayed, but a full ten months ahead of schedule.
From the business perspective, the airlines are under great financial pressure because of soaring fuel costs; the price of crude oil is consistently flirting with $100 per barrel. On the environmental side of things, aircraft represent up to 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the U.S. transportation sector, according to the Environmental Protection Agency…
…To get it done, Virgin Atlantic is teaming with Boeing and GE Aviation, maker of the engines that power the airplane. The airline said the GE Aviation CF6 engines used during the flight will not require modifications to burn biofuel, nor will the biofuel have negative effects on the engines.
The fuel used in the flight will be a blend of 80 percent conventional jet fuel, which is essentially kerosene, and 20 percent biofuel. Although the exact type of biofuel to be used has not been disclosed, the airline said it is a form that does not compete with food and freshwater resources.
Exciting, no? We’ll keep an eye out for an exact flight date and update everyone.