Lufthansa fuels international flight with Neste Oil biojet fuel

By Erin Voegele | January 16, 2012

The use of biobased aviation fuel took another step forward mid-January when Neste Oil’s NExBLT was used for the first time to power an international commercial Lufthansa flight. The plane traveled on a regularly scheduled service from Frankfurt to Washington D.C. According to Lufthansa, the Boeing 747-400 carried about 40 metric tons of a biosynthetic fuel mix.

The flight marked the end of successful six-month trail between Neste Oil and Lufthansa. During the trial period Lufthansa flew a total of 1,187 flights within Germany, between Frankfurt and Hamburg. During the trial period a Lufthansa Airbus A321 traveled the route. One of its engines was powered by a 50/50 blend of traditional jet fuel and biosynthetic kerosene. The primary goal of the trial was to gain experience in the use of biojet and collect long-term data. The test flights also enabled the organizations to analyze any maintenance or engine issues that might arise.

“Our burnFAIR project went off smoothly and to our fullest satisfaction. As expected, biofuel proved its worth in daily flight operations,” said Joachim Buse, vice president aviation biofuel at Lufthansa.

Following the end of the trial, the two companies are expected to continue to cooperate on renewable aviation fuel. The initial focus will be to research new possible feedstocks for biofuel production. Neste Oil and Lufthansa will collaborate on other areas of biofuels research in the future, and note they will share a joint stand at the International Green Week Berlin event in late January.

Lufthansa said its next step will be focusing on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials,  but first it must tap into this market. Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial, the firm said, if it is able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations.