Finnair aims to become a launch customer for commercial airline jet biofuel flights
21.12.2010 (GreenAir online)
Following the recent announcement that Lufthansa is set to become the world’s
first airline to use biofuels on commercial flights, it has emerged that Finnair
is also in discussions with the same biofuel supplier, Finland’s Neste Oil, to
become a launch user of sustainable jet fuels derived from logging waste.
According to Finnair and Neste, the two parties have been looking at areas of
cooperation for over two years and are still ongoing. Finnair said a decision has still to be made on when the first commercial biofuel
flights will take place and will depend on factors such as the availability of
biomass and when biofuel blends will be certified for commercial use.
According to Finnish broadcaster YLE, Finnair is set to become the first airline
in the world to use fuel produced from renewable sources on regular flights, although
Lufthansa made a similar claim a few weeks ago when it announced a cooperative
agreement had been signed with Neste, with the first flights following certification
that is expected at the end by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
However, Finnair believes that “first-flyer” status has not been guaranteed to
any airline by Neste and a final decision has yet to be made.
“Discussions with Finnair are ongoing and unfinished,” said a Neste spokesperson.
“Thus Neste Oil has not issued any statements or press releases regarding the
A Finnair spokesperson told GreenAir Online: “Finnair is aiming to be the first airline to use biofuels on commercial flights
but unfortunately there is no guarantee for that yet. However, Finnair is also
looking for long-term cooperation with different interest groups to engage in
biofuels development work, especially regarding the use of biomass.”
According to an article on the YLE website, Neste will produce jet biofuel, derived
from lard or logging waste, at its production facilities in Porvoo (Finland),
Rotterdam and Singapore. The report said airlines have demanded the new fuel should not contain palm oil
because of deforestation concerns and Finnair was especially interested in utilizing
logging waste from home forests. Neste is one of the largest users of certified palm oil in the world, which it
uses in its NExBTL renewable diesel. The company opened what it claims is the
world’s largest renewable diesel production plant in Singapore last month.
When it announced the Lufthansa agreement, Neste said the jet biofuel that would
be used by the German airline on flights between Hamburg and Frankfurt would be
a blend of 50% NExBTL jet fuel and 50% fossil-based jet fuel in one engine, while
the other engine would use conventional jet fuel.
The primary purpose of Lufthansa’s ‘burnFAIR’ project is to conduct a long-term
trial to study the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life – the
airline has world-leading aircraft maintenance facilities in Hamburg. The project
is part of an overall ‘FAIR’ initiative (Future Aircraft Research) in which other
issues – alongside biofuel compatibility – such as new engine and aircraft concepts
or other fuels are under study. The German federal government is contributing
a total of €5 million towards ‘FAIR’, of which half will be earmarked for the
‘burnFAIR’ project. Lufthansa will be investing €6.6 million.
“We know that biofuel is an issue we must address carefully,” said Lufthansa
Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber, announcing the launch of the project. “We
can see the opportunities this fuel offers and give serious attention to the debate
on the requisite raw materials. But we first want to acquire experience 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.
“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.”