June 19, 2008

Air NZ Plans Biofuel Test

By WOOD, Alan

Air New Zealand wants to test a plane on biofuel this year, and rely on biofuels domestically within five years as part of a long- term goal to become the world's most environmentally sustainable airline.

Air New Zealand has been in talks with big-name industry players Rolls- Royce and Boeing since last year on ways to develop a sustainable biofuel, with plans on a fast track with the latest fuel- price surge.

Airline deputy chief executive Norm Thompson said yesterday the airline would be the first in the world ready to test a biofuel in one engine of a four-engined Boeing 747 plane by the end of the year.

This would likely be a jatropha biofuel sourced from India and China and had not been tried by any other airline. Air New Zealand was also keeping on top of biofuel developments from algae farming in the South Island. Thompson plans to be on board the flight when it takes off from Auckland airport without passengers for a test run before the biofuel engine is stripped down and examined to see if there is any unusual wear and tear compared to traditional aviation fuels.

Before the first flight the airline will need approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority and ground tests will be undertaken, but it has a longer term strategy for domestic biofuel flights under sustainable supply.


(c) 2008 Press, The; Christchurch, New Zealand. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.