Lufthansa Airlines To Begin Transatlantic Biosynthetic Fuel Fights


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Lufthansa Airlines To Begin Transatlantic Biosynthetic Fuel Fights

By Jim Douglas

January 12, 2012 - After a six-month practical trial involving biosynthetic fuel, Lufthansa is pleased to announce the first positive results. In all, 1,187 biofuel flights were operated between Hamburg and Frankfurt. According to initial calculations, CO2 emissions were reduced by 1,471 tons. Total consumption of the biokerosene mix amounted to 1,556 tons.  

“Our burnFAIR project went off smoothly and to our fullest satisfaction. As expected, biofuel proved its worth in daily flight operations,” confirmed Joachim Buse, Vice President Aviation Biofuel at Lufthansa. 

The highlight of the biofuel trial at Lufthansa will be the first scheduled transatlantic flight to the United States, which is now planned for 12 January 2012.  A Boeing 747-400, carrying about 40 tons of a biosynthetic fuel mix, will fly from Frankfurt to Washington. With this flight alone, Lufthansa expects to reduce CO2 emissions by 38 tons, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of six scheduled flights between Frankfurt and Berlin. 

The aviation industry has undertaken a great deal in terms of climate protection and has set itself ambitious targets. In line with IATA’s industry-wide goal, airlines must reduce their net CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by the year 2050 compared to 2005.  

“If we want to protect our climate and thus our future in a sustainable manner, we need innovative ideas and technologies and an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels – particularly in view of the growing demand for mobility worldwide,” said Christoph Franz, Chairman of the Executive Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. 

Biosynthetic kerosene is just as reliable as conventional jet fuel but the environmental effects are more positive. Thanks to the higher energy density of biofuel, it has been possible to reduce the fuel consumption by more than one per cent. Furthermore, biosynthetic kerosene is free of sulphur and aromatic compounds. 

The principle behind biofuel is simple and is based on the carbon cycle. Plants withdraw CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. When aircraft engines burn biofuel, this CO2 is released back into the atmosphere. Biofuel emits about 50 per cent less CO2 than conventional fossil fuels. 


“As a next step, we will focus on the suitability, availability, sustainability and certification of raw materials. But first we must tap into this market. However, Lufthansa will only continue the practical trial if we are able to secure the volume of sustainable, certified raw materials required in order to maintain routine operations,” project manager Joachim Buse stressed. 


From 15 July to 27 December 2011 a Lufthansa Airbus A321 was used to operate scheduled flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route. One of the aircraft’s engines was powered by a 50-50 blend of regular fuel and biosynthetic kerosene. The aim of this long-term trial was to gain experience in the use of biofuel and collect long-term data. At the same time, the test flight enables the effects of biofuels on the environment and on the maintenance and life time of the engines to be examined. 

Deutsche Lufthansa is the flag carrier of Germany and the largest airline in Europe in terms of overall passengers carried. The name of the company is derived from Luft (the German word for "air"), and Hansa (after the Hanseatic League, a powerful medieval trading group). 

The airline is the world's fourth-largest airline in terms of overall passengers carried, operating services to 18 domestic destinations and 203 international destinations in 78 countries across Africa, Americas, Asia and Europe. Together with its partners Lufthansa services around 410 destinations. With over 710 aircraft it has the second-largest passenger airline fleet in the world when combined with its subsidiaries.

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