NEW YORK: Last week at New York’s JFK airport, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines highlighted the next iteration of sustainable aviation by initiating the first-ever series of biofuel-powered intercontinental flights.
The biofuel, which is derived from used cooking oil and is blended into traditional aviation fuel, is helping to power a Boeing 777-200 across the Atlantic Ocean as part of a 25-week trial. Flight KL642 is operated every Thursday between JFK and Amsterdam Schiphol. Partners in the programme include Schiphol Group, Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Some passengers are craving opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint while travelling, and biofuels may play a significant role in helping meet this demand. “I am proud that KLM is once again demonstrating its leading role in developing sustainable biofuel,” said KLM managing director Camiel Eurlings during last week’s media event in new York.
KLM is no stranger to experimenting with biofuels. In 2009, the carrier operated the world’s first passenger flight utilising biofuels. Biofuel currently costs several times more than traditional aviation fuel, but this has not deterred KLM and its partners from pursuing its development. The biofuel used aboard the KLM 777-200 is provided by partner SkyNRG, which was founded by KLM in 2009 along with North Sea Group and Spring Associates.
Climate change is real, according to Susan Baer, aviation director for The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. She notes that storms have worsened in recent years, and airports are especially vulnerable to changing climates. After hurricane Sandy, several major New York area airports were severely flooded. Baer drove home the point that the adoption of biofuels is an important step in helping to mitigate climate change.
Biofuel is just one part of large-scale efforts to reduce the aviation industries carbon footprint; others advancements include the use of highly efficient engines that omit less CO2, and precision approaches that require less fuel burn.