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KLM flight highlights biofuel development

By control on February 24, 2012

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has resumed its series of biofuel flights between Schiphol Airport and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. The carrier, which launched the initiative in September under the endorsement of the World Wide Fund for Nature, seeks to perform 200 flights powered by a used-cooking-oil blend.

In a press release, KLM said that the purpose of this flight series is to show the feasibility of operating aircraft with sustainable jet fuel.

“KLM believes that only a sustainable alternative to current fossil kerosene actually leads to a reduction of CO2 emissions in the medium term,” according to the press release. “For this purpose, since late 2007 KLM [has been] doing research for sustainably produced biofuels and hopes that more parties will follow its example in order to decrease the price of biofuel.”

It appears that Continental Airlines is such an entity. Last November, the United Airlines subsidiary made history by operating the first commercial flight utilizing advanced biofuels in the U.S. This flight came on the heels of United Airlines’ partnership with Solazyme to negotiate the purchase of 20 million gallons of biofuel per year.

Across the Atlantic, Virgin Atlantic Airways has also made headlines for its collaboration with LanzaTech to develop an alternative jet fuel with half of the carbon emissions of standard fuels. Once complete, the biofuel will be utilized on Virgin Atlantic’s routes from Shanghai and Delhi to London Heathrow Airport, a spokesman for the carrier said in October.

Such initiatives are in line with the International Air Transport Association’s goal of slashing carbon emissions in half by 2050. The association, which has long championed a global approach to sustainability developed through the International Civil Aviation Organization, praised the creation of biofuels, despite citing some barriers to utilization.

“Biofuels could be a game-changer,” IATA Director Tony Tyler said in a statement. “But despite the quick progress to date, some major hurdles still remain, such as bringing big oil on board and getting the policy framework of fiscal and legal incentives to encourage their commercialization. We need positive economic measures that result from strategic government decisions to support the growth of green economies, including aviation.”

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