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TAM Airlines and Airbus first to fly Jatropha-based biofuel in Latin America

TAM Airlines together with Airbus have conducted the first Jatropha-based biofuel flight in Latin America, using an Airbus A320. The biofuel, processed by UOP LLC, a Honeywell group, was a 50 percent blend of locally-sourced Brazilian Japtropha-based bio-kerosene and conventional aviation kerosene. 20 people from TAM Airlines and Airbus were on board the A320 powered by CFM56 engines which took off from Galeão Antonio Carlos Jobim International airport in Rio de Janeiro. The aircraft performed a 45 minute flight before returning to its point of origin.

“Airbus and TAM have taken an important step towards establishing an aviation biofuel solution that is both commercially viable and sustainable, with positive impact on the environment,” said Airbus’ President and CEO, Tom Enders. “This flight serves as evidence of the aviation industry’s commitment to advance on its self-imposed CO2 reduction targets: carbon neutral growth from 2020, and working towards a 50 percent net CO2 reduction by 2050.”

“This experimental flight materializes TAM’s participation in a vast project to develop a production chain for renewable biofuel, with the purpose of creating a Brazilian platform for sustainable aviation bio-kerosene,” said Libano Barroso, president of TAM Airlines.

Studies show that the use of biofuels made from Jatropha in aviation could reduce the sector’s overall carbon footprint by up to 80 percent, compared with conventional petroleum-based aviation kerosene. TAM Airlines and Airbus both support the study and assessment of the sustainability and economic viability of implementing the bio-kerosene value chain in Brazil.

The technical flight was approved by Airbus, the engine provider CFM International, and was authorized by aviation authorities in Europe (the European Aviation Safety Agency – EASA), and Brazil (National Civil Aviation Agency – ANAC).

“TAM’s young and modern Airbus fleet has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the region, leading the way for the rest of the industry to contribute to the cause,” Enders added.

As part of its ongoing commitment to ensure that air travel continues to be one of the most eco-efficient means of transportation, Airbus has developed a roadmap working towards making alternative fuel and biofuel technology a reality for aviation. In addition to its efforts with TAM Airlines, in February 2008, an Airbus A380 aircraft successfully completed the first ever flight by a commercial aircraft using Gas-to-Liquid (GTL), and in October 2009 Airbus and Qatar Airways undertook the first commercial flight of 50 percent blended GTL.

Source and photo: Airbus