Lufthansa has confirmed it will begin a six-month biofuel trial on scheduled commercial flights from April next year.
In conjunction with the German national aviation research programme the flag-carrier will operate an Airbus A321 on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route for the duration of the trial.
Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene.
Peter Hintze, state secretary for economics and technology, said: “With its aviation research programme (LUFO), the federal government is supporting the German aviation industry in its efforts to master the technological challenges of establishing a safe and sustainable air traffic system.
“That backing is afforded within internationally comparable framework conditions.”
The primary purpose of the project is to conduct a long-term trial to study the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life.
Lufthansa chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber said the airline would look to save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions during the six month trial.
“Lufthansa will be the world’s first airline to utilise biofuel in flight operations within the framework of a long-term trial,” Mayrhuber added.
“This is a further consistent step in a proven sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for many years successfully pursued and implemented.”
Lufthansa will operate the aircraft out of Hamburg
Lufthansa is currently making preparations for the practical tests, with the acquisition of sufficient biofuel and the complex logistics key concerns.
Furthermore, an array of internal processes must be modified, since Lufthansa does not normally deploy a plane exclusively on a single route, but always in a rotation chain on flights to different destinations.
The aircraft will be fuelled only in Hamburg.
Chairman of the executive board of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Dr Johann-Dietrich Wörner, dwelt on the project background.
“Our burnFAIR project is designed to research the long-term alternatives to conventional aviation jet fuel.
“The object is to gather data on pollutants from biofuel in comparison with conventional kerosene over a longer period.
“The measured pollution pattern related to diverse stresses in flight and the composition of the exhaust gases will allow us not only to draw conclusions about the compatibility of biofuel but also about the maintenance needs of aircraft engines. Since, above all, we expect a significant reduction in soot particles.”
The project will cost Lufthansa an estimated €6.6 million.