Beats Boeing, Virgin To Bragging Rights
Boeing and Virgin Atlantic have talked about doing it for
months... but on Friday, Airbus became the first manufacturer to
fly a commercial aircraft powered by an alternative fuel. An Airbus
A380 took off Friday morning from Filton, England for a successful
three-hour flight to Toulouse, France, powered by synthetic liquid
fuel processed from natural gas.
Shell International Petroleum provided the Shell GTL
(gas-to-liquid) Jet Fuel. The Airbus tests are running in parallel
to the agreement signed in November 2007 with Qatar Airways, Qatar
Petroleum, Qatar Fuels, Qatar Science & Technology Park, Rolls
Royce and Shell International Petroleum Company to research the
potential benefits of synthetic jet fuel processed from gas.
"After more than 30 years of development and a decade of
operations, we are now building, together with Qatar Petroleum, the
world scale Pearl GTL plant in Qatar," said Sjoerd Post, Vice
President Shell Aviation. "In our drive for cleaner fuels, GTL
technology can help reduce local emissions and encourage
Airbus states GTL technology provides real benefits in fuel
efficiency and emissions... especially as GTL is almost entirely
sulfur-free. The fuel may be sythesized using a method called the
Fischer-Tropsch process, which can extract usable fuel from almost
any carbon-based material.
The findings of the tests will benefit the consortium's
research, and will likely pave the way for flights powered by other
alternative fuels, such as fuels derived from biomass such as
As ANN reported, Virgin
Atlantic announced last month it planned to fly the world's first
commercial jet flight powered by biofuel by the end of February.
That flight, in comparison to Airbus' trip, was planned to be a
relatively short hop, from Heathrow to Amsterdam... and will be
powered by a biofuel sourced from either soybeans, or algae.
Stephen Vella, a management adviser at Qatar Airways, told The
Economist the airline hopes to start using GTL on a small number of
commercial flights in 2009.