Last updated: 02:41 PM ET, Wed December 09 2015

China Makes First Flight With Environmentally-Friendly Fuel

Airlines & Airports | Michael Isenbek | March 22, 2015

China Makes First Flight With Environmentally-Friendly Fuel

Photo courtesy of Boeing's Twitter feed

Everything about a recent, regularly scheduled Hainan Airlines flight was routine,  100 passengers flew from Shanghai to Beijing in a Next-Generation 737-800, but it was the fuel powering the engines that made the journey a milestone for China’s aviation industry, reported. It was a blend of 50 percent conventional jet fuel, and 50 percent biofuel made by Sinopec from discarded cooking oil collected from restaurants in China.

"We are honored to see our airplane fly on sustainable aviation biofuel from Shanghai to our nation's capital," said Pu Ming, vice president of Hainan Airlines, the plane’s pilot. "As a fast-growing domestic and international carrier, Hainan Airlines is demonstrating our environmental commitment by showing that aviation biofuel can play a safe and effective role in China's air transport system."

Biofuel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent when compared to conventional petroleum, a vital characteristic as passenger demand increases. The Boeing Current Market Outlook foreseeing that China will need 6,020 new airplanes by 2033 to accommodate the higher number of fliers.

"We are very pleased to work together with Hainan Airlines, China National Aviation Fuel and Boeing to accomplish this remarkable flight, which is a milestone," said Sinopec spokesperson Lv Dapeng. "For many years, Sinopec has maintained a leadership role in China in terms of the development and application of biomass fuel including aviation biofuel and bio-diesel. This fully represents an earnest commitment from Sinopec to continuously advance scientific and technological innovation and promote green and low-emission development."

Boeing has partnered with numerous agencies and institutions in China in the development of sustainable aviation biofuels. China's first aviation biofuel test flight was with a Boeing 747-400 using China-grown, jatropha-based biofuel. Boeing also works with the Commercial Aviation Corp. of China and Chinese Academy of Science's Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, on aviation biofuel development.

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