World first pure biodiesel jet flight

While Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic have been garnering publicity for their upcoming biofuel test flights a small group of aviation enthusiasts in the US have flown a jet aircraft powered by 100% biodiesel.

Unlike the Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic test flights where one of the four engines will be run on biofuel the Greenflight International flight was in a single engined L-29 military aircraft. Working in their favour is the fact that the Czechoslovakian-made aircraft is rated to fly on a variety of fuels including heating oil, making it the preferred platform for testing biodiesel in jet engines.

Greenflight International L-39

The experimental test flights were conducted starting with a blend of jet fuel and biodiesel. The engine data was measured and the performance was evaluated and found acceptable for continued use, eventually resulting in the landmark flight using 100% renewable biodiesel fuel. According to Chief Pilot Carol Sugars who wrote and conducted the test program:

As we gradually increased the amount of biodiesel in the fuel blend, the data confirmed that the aircraft continued to perform well, giving me the confidence to transition to 100% biodiesel.

Flight tests were conducted up to an altitude of 17,000 feet showing no significant difference in performance compared to conventional jet fuel. You can read the full press release on the Greenflight International web site.

Source: Greenflight International via ecogeek

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