The race to integrate biofuel into commercial airline service – or, at least, to grab a headline doing so – is definitely on, and it’s happening in Northern Europe.
A month after KLM Royal Dutch used a 50-50 mix of biofuel and conventional fuel to carry 70 passengers from Amsterdam to Paris – a 465-mile hop – Finnair announced it had gone one better. The airline said its 900-plus mile trip from Helsinki to Amsterdam, using the same SkyNRG blend, in late July was the longest commercial biofuel trip ever.
The roughly four-hour flight on July 20 went as scheduled, according to the company. Flight Captain Jarkko Rosti told passengers they were embarking on a unique adventure – as far as we know, nobody then headed for the exit – and pamphlets were passed out to travelers explaining the benefits of biofuels.
Biofuels in general have come under some scrutiny recently, first with a U.N. report claiming some sources endanger developing countries, then an M.I.T. report showing some production models are not eco-friendly, and finally a new study suggesting ethanol subsidies are driving up food prices. We tackled the subject of whether or not an aviation biofuel market is sustainable, and while some airlines are making news with their use of biofuels, analyst Mackinnon Lawrence suggested such fuels won’t have a big impact on the industry until around 2020.