One of the aircraft on display at next week's Paris Air Show will be Boeing's new 747-8 Freighter. While the 76-meter (250-foot) jumbo jet will no doubt be pretty impressive to see on the ground, what many gawkers may not realize is that its flight from Seattle to Paris will have marked an aviation milestone - it will be the first time a commercial aircraft has crossed the Atlantic Ocean using biofuel.
All four of the plane's General Electric GEnx-2B engines will be burning a blend of 15 percent camelina-based biofuel and 85 percent traditional Jet-A kerosene fuel. Camelina is a plant that is sometimes grown for animal feed, but is increasingly grown specifically for use in aviation biofuel.
No changes needed to be made to the aircraft, its engines or its operating procedures in order to use the blended fuel. According to Boeing, in tests of other biofuels, the aircraft have actually performed slightly better than they did using pure kerosene fuel.
The use of such fuels is reportedly part of the company's effort to reduce the environmental impact of their aircraft, while also improving mileage and reducing engine noise. The biofuel-burning 747-8 Freighter should be entering regular service in coming months, with what Boeing describes as "a double-digit reduction in carbon emissions."
The passenger version of the 747-8, the Intercontinental, made its maiden flight this March.