Aviation fans are fond of recalling great milestones in the industry. December 17, 1903: the Wright brothers took off from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. May 21, 1927: Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, completing the first transatlantic flight. October 14, 1947: Chuck Yaeger officially broke the sound barrier. As aviation technology has improved, history continues to be made in the air.
Today we reached a major milestone in aviation fuel efficiency when United Airlines flew the first-ever commercial domestic flight using a blend of biofuel and traditional jet fuel. In addition, United announced its intent to purchase 20 million gallons of bio-fuel per year, giving this young, green industry a big boost.
UA1403, departed Houston this morning at 10:30am local time, bound for Chicago making it the first commercial passenger flight with a 40% biofuel mix created from algae by Solazyme, a San Francisco based company. The flight's success demonstrated that, as United’s Executive Vice President, Pete McDonald, said, “Sustainable biofuels, produced on a large scale at an economically viable price, can one day play a meaningful role in powering everyone's trip on an airline."
And United is not the only commercial airline making biofuel history this week. Alaska Air has two flights scheduled from Seattle scheduled on Wednesday--one to Washington,DC, and one to Portland, OR--burning a 20% biofuel blend that uses cooking oil.
As Alaska Air Group Chairman and chief executive Bill Ayer put it, “This is a historic week for US aviation.”
Because traditional fuel prices fluctuate constantly, CAAFI has been working diligently to find efficient, cost-effective ways of powering aircraft without relying on imported foreign oil.
In previous blog posts I have talked about developments in bio-fuel for trains; With this advance in aviation, we are truly moving towards a green transportation network
Making aviation more environmentally friendly is also driving principal behind FAA's NextGen air traffic modernization efforts. Today's flight and the commitment of U.S. carriers to alternative fuels demonstrate that we are on our way in meeting our goals. I want to salute the carriers who are pressing forward with alternative fuels, the people working on a greener airspace at FAA, and all of our partners in the CAAFI.
You can learn more about the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative at http://www.caafi.org.