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KLM Celebrates World’s First Passenger Flight Using Biofuel

November 24, 2009

The airline KLM claims it has achieved the world’s first passenger flight using biofuel, as its Boeing 747 — with one of four engines powered by a 50-percent biokerosene mix — circled the Netherlands for an hour on Monday, AFP reported.

The 747 took off and landed at Schiphol airport near Amsterdam.

KLM chief executive officer Peter Hartman noted after the flight that such a feat was technically feasible.

“We have demonstrated that it is possible. Government, industry and society at large must now join forces to ensure that we quickly gain access to a continuous supply of biofuel,” he said.

Hartman, Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven, the director of nature group WWF in the Netherlands, Johan van de Gronden, and a handful of journalists were among the 40 people on board the historic flight.

“Among the Boeing’s four engines, one was powered by a mix of 50 percent sustainable kerosene and 50 percent normal fuel. The biofuel was manufactured from the camelina plant, sourced from a biotechnology company based in Seattle in the United States,” said KLM spokeswoman Monique Matze.

KLM said the test flight was also the first of any kind in Europe powered partly by sustainable biofuel.

Matze, citing ongoing projects to reduce CO2 emissions, said they compensated the footprint of transporting the fuel from the United States to here.

KLM said its quest for biokerosene was conditional on forests, food and water sources not being jeopardized.

“The company dare not name any targets for switching to biofuel for its commercial flights, as the difficulty now is the availability of biofuels,” Matze said.

She said Monday’s flight was the first step towards ensuring clean and sustainable air transport.

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