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Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia Attract International Interest in Developing Homegrown Jet Biofuels

Submitted by on April 7, 2017 – 11:05 amNo Comment

(GreenAir Online)  A year after issuing a joint Request for Information (RFI) from parties interested in supporting the development and production of sustainable aviation fuel in the region, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia say they have had strong interest both locally and from abroad. The airlines have now completed an extensive review of more than 30 responses from organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and the United States. When announcing the RFI, the airline partners said that while the aviation biofuel development was accelerating internationally, it was not the case in their region. A roadmap report published in 2011 by the Australian government science research agency CSIRO found that by 2020 a 5% bio-derived jet fuel share could be possible in Australia and New Zealand, expanding to 40% by 2050. Despite both airlines having engaged in a number of early alternative fuel initiatives, progress so far has been slow however.

A world-first use of sustainable aviation fuel, Air New Zealand carried out a two-hour test flight in December 2008 that used a 50/50 blend of fuel made from jatropha oil sourced from Africa and India in one of the four engines of the Boeing 747. Following the flight, the carrier said it was aiming for sustainable biofuels to make up a significant proportion of its jet fuel needs by 2013 (see article).

Virgin Australia too has had ambitions to be an early adopter of sustainable fuels, with involvement in three initiatives.

It was part of a University of Queensland led project to undertake a detailed analysis of a potential renewable jet fuel industry in the state from three biomass sources – sugar cane, pongamia and algae.  READ MORE

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