Air China conducts first biofuel test flight

Updated: 2011-10-28 17:30

By Hou Lei (

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Air China conducts first biofuel test flight

An Air China Boeing 747-400 powered in part by biofuels takes off from Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing, Oct 28, 2011. Air China successfully conducts China's first biofuel test flight Friday. [Photo/Xinhua]

Air China became the first Chinese carrier to conduct a demonstration flight powered in part by biofuel, indicating the alternative energy's possible use in future commercial flights in the country, Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

The Beijing-based airline company, also China's flag carrier, made the flight with a Boeing 747-400. The jumbo jet took off at 8:30 am and landed successfully at Beijing Capital International Airport at 9:30 am after the one-hour test flight.

One engine of the B747 ran on a mixture of half biofuel and half traditional jet fuel. The other three ran solely on jet fuel. The test flight consumed more than 10 tons of biofuel, according to Xinhua's report.

During the flight, the aircraft reached an altitude of 11,000 meters. The flight crew conducted various tests to analyze the technical aspects of using biofuel.

The alternative fuel used in this flight was derived from jatropha seeds, which contain about 40% oil. It is developed and produced by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) after 10 years of research and development, said Shen Diancheng, deputy general manager of CNPC.

CNPC has already planted 1.2 million mu (198,000 acres) of jatropha trees in Yunnan, Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces, aiming to reach a production capacity of 60,000 tons of aviation biofuel a year by 2014, Shen said.

This plant can grow on almost any terrain, including wastelands. As China has 800 million mu (132 million acres) of barren mountains, promoting the cultivation of jatropha trees is believed to have huge potential, according to the report.

The use of alternative energy like biofuels is a way for airline companies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and lower fuel costs.

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