Lufthansa’s Biofuel Trial On Commercial Flights

April 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Design and Tech

German flag-carrier Lufthansa is set to become the world’s first airline to use biofuel for an Airbus A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route. One of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The major constituents of the biofuel are RSPO-certified palmoil, rapeseed and animal fats. The six-month trial, due to start in late 2011, will examine the effects of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life, and determine the feasibility of regular flight operations using biofuel. For the duration of the trial, Lufthansa estimates it will save 1,500 tonnes in CO2 emissions.

According to a study by the World Resource Institute in 2005, the aviation industry is currently responsible for only 1.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, Lufthansa aims to act accordingly with its Pure Sky initiative. Pure Sky covers all of Lufthansa’s important measures and activities concerning the technical exploration, research and use of renewable energy in aviation.

One area of commitment is the permanent and continuous reduction of harmful emissions. The interest in biofuel as a form of sustainable energy remains a key focus because it can be produced from a variety of biomass-based raw materials such as plants, household waste, industrial waste or vegetable oils. Implementation costs are non-existent as biofuel is fully compatible with conventional jet fuel. Biofuel could potentially meet the important criteria of availability, price stability and effective benefit. When used on a global scale, around 50% of aviation emissions can be compensated in a climate-friendly manner.

Lufthansa’s Pure Sky initiative is consistent with the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 4-pillar strategy for environmental protection. This focuses not only on an improved infrastructure on the ground and in the air but also on operational measures, economic measures and the search for technological innovations in the reduction of CO2 emissions. With a combination of different measures such as fleet renewal, engine cleaning, lighter materials, and improved infrastructure on the ground and in the air, it will be possible for Lufthansa to achieve its ambitious environmental goals.

By 2020, Lufthansa aims to continue adding up to 10% biofuel to fossil fuel. Their intermediate target is an annual improvement of their fuel efficiency by 1.5%. By 2050, the target is to achieve full carbon-neutral growth by 2020. An additional target is a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 2050 compared to 2005. Already, Lufthansa has succeeded in increasing its fuel efficiency by over 30% since 1991. For more information on Pure Sky, visit

Source and Image: Lufthansa

Editor Comments:

Lufthansa’s trial would contribute much to the knowledge and data on using biofuel for commercial flights. This would add another demonstration flight to the one conducted in Feb 2008 by Virgin Atlantic (owned by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Singapore Airlines), where a Boeing 747 flew from London to Amsterdam using a 20% biofuel and 80% kerosene blend. Even with the demonstration flight and Richard Branson’s strong push for biofuel, Singapore Airlines has not indicated whether it has plans to use biofuel in the future. Anyway, Singapore Airlines has plans to sell its stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines is still committed to the continual improvement of its environmental performance. For example, Singapore Airlines partnered aviation authorities in Singapore, the US and Japan to carry out demonstration green flights under the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) programme, and managed to use 6% less fuel than normal flights through efficiency measures. Singapore Airlines also support IATA’s commitment for the industry to achieve carbon-neutral growth. Visit the Singapore Airlines website to find out more.

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