November 19, 2012

A Dassault Falcon 20 has achieved an aviation and renewable-energy milestone by becoming the world’s first civil jet to be powered by 100 percent biofuel.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC), a government research and development organization, said it flew the Falcon over Ottawa, Canada, during a one-hour flight on Oct. 29. The Falcon’s two General Electric CF700-2D2 turbofan engines consumed ReadiJet, an unblended biofuel. Earlier biofuel flights by other civil aircraft used a mix of alternative fuel and traditional petroleum-based jet fuel.

“We have been working hard with our partners for many months, and it is most rewarding to see it all come together,” said NRC pilot Tim Leslie, who steered the Falcon during its historic flight. “It is truly inspiring to take this step toward an eco-friendly future.” ReadiJet is based on Agrisoma’s Resonance industrial oilseed crops and is produced by Albuquerque-based Applied Research Associates (ARA) under contract to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. ARA created the fuel using the ISOCONVERSION process it developed with Chevron Lummus Global.

During the NRC flight, a Lockheed T-33 tailed the Falcon to collect information on the biofuel’s emissions. The NRC said it will analyze that information to better understand the environmental impact of renewable energy. Preliminary results are expected in the coming weeks.

The Falcon flight occurred the same day that Gulfstream Aerospace announced that its fleet of five demonstration aircraft had flown from Savannah, GA, to NBAA’s 65th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2012) in Orlando, FL, on a 50-50 blend of camelina plant-based Honeywell Green Jet Fuel and petroleum-based jet fuel. Gulfstream said it is the first original equipment manufacturer to have its full fleet fly to a trade show on advanced biofuels.

The aircraft manufacturer said that each gallon of Honeywell fuel burned instead of petroleum fuel reduces carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by 68 percent.

In 2009, a host of aviation organizations, including NBAA, unveiled a plan to limit the industry’s carbon emissions to address climate change concerns. Specific targets include carbon-neutral growth by 2020, fuel-efficiency improvements of an average of 2 percent a year until 2020, and a 50 percent cut in total carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 compared to 2005. The business aviation community expects to achieve these goals through advances in technology, infrastructure and operational improvements, alternative fuels and market-based measures.