Airlines all over the world are finding themselves under increased pressure to lower their carbon footprints, and saving a buck or two (million) in the process certainly wouldn't hurt anything. To that end, Air New Zealand has successfully conducted the world's first commercial test flight with a Boeing 747-400 powered by Rolls-Royce jet engines. According to reports, everything went exactly as planned without a single problem.

This successful test should go a long way towards helping Air New Zealand hit its self-imposed target of displacing 10 percent of its 9 million barrels of fuel used annually with biofuels by 2013. If the company is able to meet that goal, some 400,000 tons of CO2 could be kept out of the atmosphere. For this flight, one of the jet's two engines ran on jatrpopha-based oil and the other used normal Jet A1 fuel.

Jatropha oil reportedly freezes at a lower temperature than even standard-grade jet fuel and is not used as a food source, making it an ideal choice for aviation biofuels. The oil for these tests was sourced from East Africa and India and is cost competitive with traditional fuels.


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