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Air Canada jet flies from Toronto to Mexico City using 50 percent cooking oil-derived biofuel


June 20, 2012

An Air Canada Airbus A319 (Photo: BriYYZ)

An Air Canada Airbus A319 (Photo: BriYYZ)

This Monday, Air Canada became the latest in a lengthening list of airlines – including Lufthansa and KLM – that have experimented with running their airliners on biofuels during regular passenger flights. In this case, the aircraft in question was an Airbus A319, traveling from Toronto to Mexico City. It was tanked up with a 50/50 mix of regular aviation fuel and biofuel made from recycled cooking oil.

The biofuel was produced by Dutch firm SkyNRG. Because the fuel was made to jet fuel standards, it could be safely used in the A319 without requiring any changes to the aircraft’s systems. Although Air Canada hasn’t yet posted any data on how the plane performed, it was expected to generate at least 40 percent less emissions than would otherwise have been the case.

Along with the use of biofuel, the airline took a number of other measures to maximize the aircraft’s efficiency on the test flight. Some of these included a preflight fuselage wash and wax to improve aerodynamics, an engine compressor wash, runway taxiing using only one engine, minimized use of the on-board Auxiliary Power Unit by relying on ground-supplied power at the airport gates, and reduced thrust on take-off.

In order to save weight, the airline even went so far as to install lightweight aisle carpet, and equip the pilots with iPads instead of their usual stacks of paper flight documents.

The experiment was conducted with support from Airbus, as part of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Flightpath to a Sustainable Future initiative. It was timed to coincide with the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

Future biofuel flights from Canada to Rio de Janeiro are now being planned.

Source: Air Canada via Treehugger

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

great story, so now an airport will smell like a chip shop, love it Ben


This "cooking oil" term is getting really old hat. Does anybody really think that there is enough old cooking oil in the world to power just 1 airliner across the atlantic every day? Let's just call it biofuel or processed vegetable oil. The media people just can't resist this silliness.

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