India’s 1st biofuel plane to take off today

New Delhi: In a first in India, no-frills carrier SpiceJet will operate a demonstration flight powered by biofuel on Monday. The plan is that the biofuel-powered Bombardier Q-400 will take off from Dehradun, fly over the city for 10 minutes. If the test goes well, then the plane will take off again and this time head to Delhi.

While some advanced countries like US and Australia have tested commercial flights on biofuel, India is among the first developing nations to make such an attempt. Officials from several regulatory agencies, including the DGCA, will be on board to see the result of this flight. -Agencies

It will reduce cost of air travel

  • The biofuel for the SpiceJet flight has been developed by Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun. The fuel has been analysed by the DGCA, and Indian Oil.
  • Domestic carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet have reported losses in the June quarter, the high fuel cost being a key factor for the financial reverses.
  • The objective is to make air travel economical and bring some respite to the airlines reeling under high fuel price through the use of alternate fuel.
  • If the test is successful, India could join a select few countries such as USA and Australia who have had biofuel-operated commercial aircraft.
  • Domestic aviation fuel (ATF) rates ex-DEL are now 97% higher (i.e. almost double) the low it hit in Feb 2016, and less than 10% short of highest ever it hit in 2014.

India will be the fourth after UK, US, Australia

  • The first-ever flight using biofuel was flown ten years ago by the Virgin Atlantic airlines between London and Amsterdam.
  • In 2011, Alaska Airlines operated some flights using biofuel made of 50% used cooking oil. And KLM had operated a few biofuel flights between New York and Amsterdam in 2013.
  • In January 2018, Australian carrier Qantas flew a Dreamliner Boeing 787-9 between Los Angeles and Melbourne.