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Continental plans a first: commercial biofuel flight

Houston-based Continental Airlines this week announced that it plans to become the first commercial airline in the U.S. to take off on a biofuel-powered flight.

The demonstration flight, set for Jan. 7, will use a biofuel blend made from algae and jatropha plants, both biofuel sources that — Continental notes — “don’t impact food crops or water resources, and don’t contribute to deforestation.”

“This flight represents another step in Continental’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions and identifying sustainable, long-term fuel solutions for the aviation industry,” said Larry Kellner, Continental’s chairman and CEO.

During the test flight in Houston, Continental plans to take numerous measurements to assess how the biofuel blend affects the performance of the Boeing 737-800’s Number 2 right engine. Among the aspects it will watch are power accelerations and decelerations, in-flight engine shutdowns and restarts and other normal and non-normal maneuvers.

Don’t worry, though: Continental won’t be using any of its customers as guinea pigs: while the test will still require on-board pilots, the demonstration flight will be a no-passenger one.

1 Comment

  • Tara
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 4:14 am

    That’s good to hear. I look forward to seeing the results of the flight.
    I also look forward to seeing more airlines and other forms of transportation using biofriendly fuels and/or workable fuel additives in the near future.

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