Lufthansa has launched a six-month biofuel trial on regular scheduled flights, believed to be the first of its kind.
A Lufthansa Airbus A321 with the registration D-AIDG will fly the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route four times daily.
One of its engines will run on a 50/50 mix of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene, with the biofuel approved by the American Society for Testing & Materials (ASTM).
Since biokerosene has similar properties to those of conventional kerosene it can be used for all aircraft types without any need for modifications to the aircraft or its engines.
The first flight of the six-month trial, operating under flight number LH013, will take off today from Hamburg at 11:15 bound for Frankfurt.
During the six months test run period, the use of biofuel will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1,500 tonnes.
Christoph Franz, chairman of the Lufthansa Group, said: “Lufthansa is the first airline worldwide to use biofuel in scheduled daily flight operations.
“We are thus continuing to steadily implement our proven and successful strategy for sustainability.”
As air transport is the only mode of transport that will remain dependent upon liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, the aviation industry and the research community must develop and test alternatives.
“Fossil raw materials are finite,” Franz cautioned.
He added that next to reducing CO2 emissions the main aim of this long-term operational trial, was to examine the effects of biofuel on the maintenance and lifespan of aircraft engines.
The biosynthetic kerosene used by Lufthansa is derived from pure biomass (biomass to liquids – BtL) and consists of jatropha, camelina and animal fats.
In the procurement of biofuel, Lufthansa ensures that it originates from a sustainable supply and production process.
Suppliers must provide proof of the sustainability of their processes and meet the criteria stipulated by the European Parliament and the Council in the Renewable Energy Directive. Lufthansa guarantees that the production of its biofuel is not in direct competition with food production and that no rainforests are destroyed.
The fuel used by Lufthansa is produced by Neste Oil, a Finnish oil company. Neste has extensive experience in the production of biofuels and has been a successful partner of Lufthansa for many years.
Lufthansa puts the total costs of conducting the biofuel project at about 6.6 million euros.