As AirlineWorld has reported last year, Boeing had earlier announced two test flights with alternative fuel to be conducted together with Air New Zealand sometime through 2008 (later a similar plan was announced in cooperation with Virgin Atlantic) . As a slap in the face, Airbus earlier this week announced that they have successfully carried out a similar test one week ago, on Friday, 01FEB2008, becoming the first ever commercial flight using such fuel.
As ATW and Airbus have reported, Airbus operated this test flight using a liquid fuel processed from gas on its new, supposedly currently most eco-friendly super-jumbo, the A380 (test aircraft A380 MSN004). The commercial aircraft was partially powered by an alternative fuel. The Gas to Liquids (GTL) test flight between two of Aribus’s operational bases from Filton, UK to Toulouse, France lasted 3 hr. During the flight, engine number one of four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines was fed with a blend of GTL and jet fuel while the remaining three consumed regular standard jet fuel. Shell International Petroleum provided the GTL. During the test flight, they have tested maximum throttle, maximum flight altitude, and maximum speed as well.
The test, which the manufacturer said was the first of several of its kind that it will conduct, was in accordance with the agreement it signed in November 2007 with the Qatar GTL consortium partners, which include Qatar Airways, Rolls-Royce, Qatar Petroleum, Shell, Qatar Science & Technology Park and Woqod Qatar Fuel Co. “This is the first step of a long-term Airbus testing phase to evaluate viable and sustainable alternative fuels for the future,” the company said. “GTL could be available at certain locations to make it a practical and viable drop-in alternative fuel for commercial aviation in the short term. GTL has attractive characteristics for local air quality, as well as some benefits in terms of aircraft fuel burn relative to existing jet fuel.” GTL is virtually free of sulphur, it noted. Qatar Airways has a target to become the first airline in the world to use such a synthetic fuel in their everyday operations.
Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders called the flight “a great achievement,” adding: “Fuel and environment are key challenges aviation is facing and for which technology and international research collaboration open up new horizons. Our alternative fuels roadmap requires innovation, diversity of ideas and options that need to be explored.”
The official video of the test flight by Airbus can be viewed here.