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Air New Zealand Makes Successful Test Flight Using Jatropha Biofuel

The world's first commercial aviation test flight powered by the sustainable second-generation biofuel jatropha has been successfully completed in Auckland.

More than a dozen key performance tests were undertaken in the two hour test flight which took-off at 11:30am (NZ time) from Auckland International Airport.

A biofuel blend of 50:50 jatropha and Jet A1 fuel was used to power one of the Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400's Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.

At 1.30pm, Pilot in Command Captain Keith Pattie and Air New Zealand Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan stepped off the aircraft back at Auckland International Airport and informed invited guests about the outcomes of the flight.

“We undertook a range of tests on the ground and inflight with the jatropha biofuel performing well through both the fuel system and engine, just as laboratory tests proved it would,” said Mr Morgan.

“To complete our testing programme our engineers will over the next few days be thoroughly assessing the engine and fuel systems looking for any changes as a result of the use of biofuel.

“Together with our partners on this project we will then review all the results as part of our drive to have jatropha certified as an aviation fuel.”

The test flight is a joint initiative between Air New Zealand, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell’s UOP, with support from Terasol Energy.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe says the completion of the flight is a significant milestone and something every New Zealander should be proud of.

“It is Air New Zealand’s long-term goal to become the world’s most environmentally sustainable airline and we have today made further significant progress towards this,” says Mr Fyfe.

“Air New Zealanders are passionate about making a difference to the environment and as a result we have become a world leader in examining every aspect of our flight operations to reduce fuel consumption and our carbon emissions.”

“We stand at the earliest stages of sustainable fuel development and it is exciting to be a part of this important moment in aviation history.”

Captain Keith Pattie and his crew operated the test flight to the north-east of Auckland over the wider Hauraki Gulf area.

Tests were completed at various altitudes and under a variety of operating conditions to measure the biofuel’s performance through the No.1 engine and fuel system.

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