Aircraft Fueled by Soybeans?
Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson
has entered into a partnership with Boeing to develop a bio-fuel
for jet engines... and both parties believe they can fly a 747 with
one engine running on biofuel as early as next year.
Normal aircraft movement contributes hundreds of tons of
greenhouse gases to the environment. Branson (right) believes he
has found the solution.
"The positive effects of biofuel will hopefully reduce or almost
get rid of the airlines' contribution to global warming," said
Branson is joining forces with Boeing and aircraft engine
manufacturers to try to turn everything from soybeans to
switch-grass into jet fuel, according to WLS-TV Chicago.
Ground testing is scheduled to begin soon. A test flight could
actually happen by the end of 2008.
"Passengers ill get from A to B on bio fuels the same way they
get from A to B on dirty fuels. The difference is they'll be able
to get from A to B without feeling guilty and without damaging the
environment," said Branson.
"I think 15 years ago in the car industry people said it was
unrealistic. Then with further work on fuel cells, ethanol,
renewable sources and you can begin to see a future world out there
where dependency is reduced," said Jim McNerney, Boeing
As Aero-News reported in December
2006, Branson lobbied Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to
allow tugs to take planes from their gates to the runway and back
at O'Hare. Pilots would only throttle up their engines for
The tug system is currently being tested in San Francisco and
London Heathrow. O'Hare currently uses tugs to move aircraft from
gate to gate or from a terminal to a maintenance hangar.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Aviation Department denied any
"serious" discussions about expanding the use of tugs.
"The footprint to the environment around those airports will be
something like 90-percent better than it is today, a dramatic
improvement. All the noise of those engines running all day will
disappear," said Branson.