Environmental Protection

Lufthansa First Airline to Use Biofuel on Commercial Flights

In April 2011, Lufthansa will begin a six-month trial with an Airbus A321 engine that will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The primary purpose of the project is to conduct a long-term trial to study the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life. During the six months trial, Lufthansa will save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions, said Lufthansa Chief Wolfgang Mayrhuber in Berlin. “Lufthansa will be the world’s first airline to utilize biofuel in flight operations within the framework of a long-term trial. This is a further consistent step in a proven sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for many years successfully pursued and implemented,” Mayrhuber said.

“With its aviation research programme (LUFO), the Federal Government is supporting the German aviation industry in its efforts to master the technological challenges of establishing a safe and sustainable air traffic system. That backing is afforded within internationally comparable framework conditions," said Peter Hintze, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

About 77 percent of LUFO funding is directly or indirectly related to the environment and sustainability. Only an integrated research approach of the like practised in research net-works, above and beyond the classical discrete disciplines, offers the chance of achieving the ambitious climate protection objectives by 2020 and, simultaneously, safeguarding the technological competitiveness of the German aviation industry.”

The project will cost Lufthansa an estimated 6.6 million euros. “We know that biofuel is an issue we must address carefully. We can see the opportunities this fuel offers and give seri-ous attention to the debate on the requisite raw materials. But we first want to acquire expe-rience in daily practice in the use of biofuels. We are doing pioneering work in that no other airline to date has operated an aircraft engine with biofuel over a longer term,” said Wolfgang Mayrhuber. “Our fuel is sustainable. No rain forest will be deforested for Lufthansa biofuel. In the procurement of biofuel, we ensure it originates from a sustainable supply and production process. Our licensed suppliers must provide proof of the sustainability of their processes.“

Production of the bio-synthetic kerosene utilised by Lufthansa rests on the basis of pure bio-mass. The producer is Neste Oil, a fuel refining and marketing company from Finland. The company has years of experience in biofuel production and has cooperated with Lufthansa for many years. Certification of its biofuel is expected in March 2011.

The use of biofuel is one element in a four-pillar strategy aimed at reducing overall emissions in air traffic. Ambitious environmental goals can only be achieved in future with a combination of various measures, like ongoing fleet renewal, operational measures such as engine washing and infrastructural improvements. Projects dedicated to these themes are also underway under the aegis of the aviation research programme. Thanks to new technologies, Lufthansa has improved its fuel efficiency by 30 percent since 1991. Average fuel consumption per passenger is now down to 4.3 litres of kerosene over 100 kilometers.

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