Virgin jet to use biofuel blend in test flight

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, sometime this month a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 will be powered by biofuel during a flight from London to Amsterdam. It will be the first time a commercial aircraft has flown on biofuel.

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic, teamed up with Boeing and GE Aviation for the test. The engines in the plane did not have to be modified to use the biofuel, nor is the biofuel expected to have any negative effects onthe engine. The fuel used will be a blend of 80% conventional jet fuel and 20% biofuel.

While this will be the first commercial aircraft to use biofuel, the US Air Force recently flew a C-17 transport aircraft coast to coast using a synthetic blend of fuel – 50% traditional jet aviation fuel and 50% Fischer-Tropsch Kerosene, a synthetic aviation fuel derived from natural gas.

Hit the link for the full article in the Chronicle.

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Update 2/24/08

Today, Virgin Atlantic successfully conducted the flight from London to Amsterdam. The plane’s fuel tanks were filled with a a 20 percent biofuel mix of coconut and babassu, which was a type that Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic said would not compete with food and fresh water resources.

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