This plane runs on bio-fuel made by 500 families
In a first-of-its-kind experiment for India, SpiceJet flew India's first biofuel-powered flight from Dehradun today morning. A 72-seater Turboprop Q400 plane took off from Dehradun's Jolly Grant airport, demonstrating that biofuel could, in fact, be used to replace the extremely costly aviation turbine fuel (ATF) that is normally used for flying. The successful test marks an extremely important step for India. Here's more.
SpiceJet: Biofuel showed more promise than regular ATF
"The biofuel flight took off from Dehradun at 6.31am and returned at 6.53am. The results have been very positive. According to preliminary studies, the power from biofuel was even better than regular aviation turbine fuel (ATF)," said G P Gupta, SpiceJet's chief strategy officer.
The implications of using biofuel for air travel are massive
The biofuel used for the trial flight was developed by Dehradun-based Indian Institute of Petroleum from renewable sources such as agricultural waste, non-edible oils, and bio-degradable industrial and municipal waste. Notably, if such fuel can be produced on a large scale, it could drastically drive down the costs of operating flights, and make air travel far more cleaner in terms of environmental impact.
Using biofuel could also help India's farmers
The 400kg of bio jet fuel developed for today's test involved the contributions from over 500 farmer families from Chhattisgarh. This is particularly important since a shift to biofuel in the near future could also augment the incomes of India's struggling farmers.
India is the first developing country to use biofuel
Although the initial plan to operate the flight from Dehradun to Delhi was revised, the successful 20 minute test flight is a massive step for sustainable air operations for India. While the first world countries like the US and Australia have operated biofuel-powered commercial flights earlier, the test makes India the first developing country to dabble in such technology.
Trivia: The first biofuel-powered flight in history
The first biofuel-powered commercial flight was operated by billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic to fly from London to Amsterdam 10 years ago.
The timing of the test is also crucial
The test comes at a time when India's aviation market is growing at an unprecedented rate, and is set to become the world's third largest aviation market by 2025. With aviation turbine fuel (ATF) accounting for as much as one-third of costs incurred by airlines, a shift to biofuels in the near future could provide some much-needed relief for many of India's struggling airlines.