India’s first biofuel-powered aircraft landed yesterday at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
Last week it was announced that Indian carrier SpiceJet would first test fly it over Dehradun, and if a success, would again fly it from the hill station to the national capital.
Union Ministers Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan,Civil Aviation Minster Mr. Suresh Prabhu and other top officials were at the airport when the SpiceJet flight,arrived in the capital. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat flagged off the flight in Dehradun.
For the test flight, which carried 28 people, including five crew members, the aircraft’s right engine was filled with 75% Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) and 25% of biofuel, made from Jatropha plant. The 45 minuet flight was completed with a Bombardier Q400 aircraft.
The fuel was prepared by the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun. The institute’s Director, Mr. Anjan Ray, said around 330 kg of biofuel was made for flight.
According to SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director, Mr. Ajay Singh, it was a “historic occasion” to operate the test flight and said that India is the first among developing countries to fly an airplane powered by biofuel.
Science and Technology Minister, Mr Harsh Vardhan has said that bio-jet fuel is carbon neutral and that only three to four nations are using it. He also emphasised that ways should be explored to scale up production of such fuels.
Biofuel is low cost and helps in significantly reducing carbon emissions. It has the potential to reduce the dependence on traditional aviation fuel by up to 50% on every flight and bring down fares
It also comes at a time when the airline industry is grappling with spiralling fuel prices that are impacting their profitability. However, use of biofuel for regular flights would take some time.
International authorities such as International Air Transport Association(IATA) & American Standard Testing Method (ASTM) have been looking into using bio-jet fuel for some time now.
IATA has also set out a target for one billion passengers to fly on aircraft using a mix of clean energy and fossil fuels by 2025.