The United-Arab-Emirates-based aviation heavyweight Etihad Airways will soon be offering regular 100%-biofuel-powered commercial flights throughout the region, according to recent comments made by chief operations officer Richard Hill.
This strong push towards greater biofuel-use by the airline is being supported by the creation of the new BIOjet Abu Dhabi project — a partnership with the French energy firm Total, and the world-renowned aircraft-producer Boeing, with the aim of developing aviation biofuels in the United Arab Emirates.
The new project was announced at a recent press conference celebrating the success of a recent UAE-produced-biokerosene-powered flight (partly powered with biofuels, not fully) — the first such flight. Speaking at the time, the chief operations officer at Etihad, Richard Hill, told reporters that “the 45-minute flight was the latest step towards operating commercial flights using biofuels.” He also stated that he expected the first of such commercial flights to be offered within the next five years.
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Working with Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company Masdar, the group intends to develop a supply chain that will bring aviation biofuel production and refining capabilities to the oil-rich nation.
Masdar is currently developing salt-tolerant plants that could provide the raw material for the renewable fuel. It is hoped that species such as salicornia could be grown in coastal areas, allowing for large scale production of energy crops that could be grown without impacting scarce water supplies in the region. However, agricultural waste and date palm leaves are also being considered as potential feed stocks for the project. Creating fuel from sustainable sources would help Etihad curb its carbon emissions, the company said.
“In collaboration with our key partners, our goal is to support and help drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and also globally,” said James Hogan, president and chief executive of Etihad. “We have made some important first steps in this process and our continued focus will be to develop further initiatives such as this which will facilitate the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels for Etihad Airways in the coming years.”
For more backstory on this breakthrough, check out: Boeing Biofuel Breakthrough — This Is A BIG Deal (Interview With Boeing’s Biofuel Director).
Image Credit: Airplane taking off via Shutterstock