Qantas to operate US-Australia biofuel flight

Qantas has announced it will operate the world´s first bio-fuel flight between the United States and Australia, the company said.

The Los Angeles to Melbourne flight will take place early next year, in collaboration with World Fuel Services and Altair Fuels, and will see Qantas´ new Dreamliner being powered by Brassica Carinata (carinata), a non-food, industrial type of mustard seed. Carinata produces high quality oil, ideal for aviation biofuel, bio-jet for aircraft and bio-diesel for airport vehicles.

The news of the flight follows Qantas´ siging of a landmark partnership with Agrisoma Biosciences (Agrisoma), the Canadian based agricultural-technology — company who developed the carinata seed.

The two organisations will work with Australian farmers to grow the country´s first commercial aviation biofuel seed crop by 2020.

Qantas International CEO, Alison Webster said the historic flight and the partnership mark the first step in developing an aviation biofuel supply in Australia.

Carinita is a ´drop-in´ crop and requires no specialised production or processing techniques. It is water efficient and The University of Queensland field trials in Gatton, Queensland, and in Bordertown, South Australia, have demonstrated it should do very well in the Australian climate.

It is sown in either fallow areas where food crops fail or in between regular crop cycles, known as “cover cropping”. Rotational or break-crops improvessoil quality, reduces erosion for food crops and provides farmers with additional annual income.

In 2012 Qantas and Jetstar operated Australia´s first biofuel trial flights. Qantas´ A330 Sydney-Adelaide return service and Jetstar´s A320 Melbourne-Hobart return service were both powered with biofuel derived from used cooking oil (split with 50:50 convential jet fuel) certified for use in commercial aviation.