Lufthansa launches first scheduled flights using biofuel
Worldwide first long term test run will reduce CO2-emissions and deliver research results / Lufthansa Airbus will operate daily flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt using biosynthetic kerosene.
Lufthansa is today launching a six-month biofuel trial on regular scheduled flights. A Lufthansa Airbus A321 with the registration D-AIDG will fly the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route four times daily. One of its engines will run on a 50/50 mix of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene. The biofuel for jet engines has been approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Since biokerosene has similar properties to those of conventional kerosene it can be used for all aircraft types without any need for modifications to the aircraft or its engines. The first flight of the six-month trial, operating under flight number LH013, will take off today from Hamburg at 11.15 hrs (CET) bound for Frankfurt. During the six months test run period, the use of biofuel will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1,500 tonnes.
Christoph Franz, Chairman and CEO of the Lufthansa Group, said: “Lufthansa is the first airline worldwide to use biofuel in scheduled daily flight operations. We are thus continuing to steadily implement our proven and successful strategy for sustainability.” As air transport is the only mode of transport that will remain dependent upon liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, the aviation industry and the research community must develop and test alternatives. “Fossil raw materials are finite,” Franz cautioned. He added that next to reducing CO2 emissions the main aim of this long-term operational trial, was to examine the effects of biofuel on the maintenance and lifespan of aircraft engines.
The biosynthetic kerosene used by Lufthansa is derived from pure biomass (biomass to liquids – BtL) and consists of jatropha, camelina and animal fats. In the procurement of biofuel, Lufthansa ensures that it originates from a sustainable supply and production process. Suppliers must provide proof of the sustainability of their processes and meet the criteria stipulated by the European Parliament and the Council in the Renewable Energy Directive. Lufthansa guarantees that the production of its biofuel is not in direct competition with food production and that no rainforests are destroyed.
The fuel used by Lufthansa is produced by Neste Oil, a Finnish oil company. Neste has extensive experience in the production of biofuels and has been a successful partner of Lufthansa for many years.
Lufthansa puts the total costs of conducting the biofuel project at about 6.6 million euros. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology has awarded 2.5 million euros in funding for this project, which is part of a larger project known as FAIR (Future Aircraft Research) set up to examine other issues besides the compatibility of biofuels, including new propulsion and aircraft concepts and other fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The use of biosynthetic kerosene is one element of the four-pillar climate protection strategy pursued by Lufthansa with a view to reducing overall CO2 emissions in the air transport sector. By combining a range of different measures – for example, ongoing fleet modernisation, technology improvements to aircraft and engines, operational measures such as engine washing or the use of lighter materials and an improved infrastructure – Lufthansa aims to achieve the ambitious environmental goals set out in its strategy. The implementation of new technologies has seen Lufthansa improve its fuel efficiency by over 30 per cent since 1991. Today the Lufthansa fleet has an average fuel consumption of 4.2 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres.
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Deutsche Lufthansa AG