SpiceJet Operates India’s First Green Flight
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 27 Aug 2018

SpiceJet Operates India’s First Green Flight


  • A historic flight with 20 people on board and 25 % biojet fuel travels from Dehradun to New Delhi
  • Bio jet fuel is greenhouse gas neutral, and environment-friendly: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister, Science & Technology 

Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, 27 August 2018

Creating a history in India’s bio-energy and aviation sector both, SpiceJet, a private Budget Airline, operated India's first ever test flight powered by biojet fuel on Monday. With 20 people on board, including officials from aviation regulator DGCA and SpiceJet, A Bombardier Q400 aircraft, partially using biojet fuel, took off from Dehradun and landed at the airport in Delhi. The total duration of the flight was around 25 minutes, according to an airline executive.

The historic flight powered by indigenously produced aviation biofuel based on patented technology of Council of Scientific &Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP) Dehradun was flagged off from Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat and was received at Delhi airport by Union Ministers Shri Nitin Gadkari, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Shri Suresh Prabhu and Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Shri Jayant Sinha.

Featuring a latest generation 78 seater Q400 aircraft, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, the Spicejet flight was powered with a blend of 75% air turbine fuel (ATF) and 25% biojet fuel, according to the Airlines. SpiceJet has a fleet of 36 Boeing 737NG and 22 Bombardier Q400 planes. On an average, it operates 412 flights daily.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister, Science &Technology on the occasion said that Biojet fuel is greenhouse gas neutral, carbon neutral, CO2 emitted during burning is sequestered during growth of the vegetation. Therefore, it is environment-friendly, does not contribute to air pollution. To cap it all, it would bring down import bill on crude oil.

“The advantage of using biojet fuel as compared to ATF is that it reduces carbon emissions and enhances fuel efficiency. Made from Jatropha crop, the fuel has been developed by the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP), Dehradun, SpiceJet said in a statement.

SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said biojet fuel is low cost and helps in significantly reducing carbon emissions.

“It has the potential to reduce our dependence on traditional aviation fuel by up to 50% on every flight and bring down fares,” he said.

Aviation industry contributes to 2% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, according to global airlines’ body IATA, which has also set out a target for one billion passengers to fly on aircraft using a mix of clean energy and fossil fuels by 2025, the release said.

The rising costs of fuel have been major worries for Indian aviation industry. And many top executives have been demanding the government to bring Aviation Turbine Fuel under GST.

The biojet fuel has been recognised by American Standard Testing Method (ASTM) and meets the specification standards of Pratt & Whitney and Bombardier for commercial application in aircraft.

The genesis of this development goes back several years to an Indo-Canadian consortium project from 2010 to 2013 involving CSIR-IIP, Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum, IIT Kanpur and IISc Bangalore, in which research was directed towards the production of Bio-aviation fuel by CSIR-IIP from jatropha oil and its evaluation under various conditions, culminating in a detailed engine test by Pratt and Whitney in Canada that showed fitness for purpose.

CSIR subsequently funded IIP under a Fast Track Translation (FTT) Project to make the fuel industry-ready and scale up production to a pilot scale of 100 litres per day while meeting applicable international specifications.

Spicejet - as the lead organization for the demonstration flight - and Chhattisgarh Biofuel Development Authority- the supplier of the jatropha oil for the flight, sourced from over 500 farmers, received considerable policy and regulatory support from the MOPNG Working Group on Biofuels and the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) in making this flight happen.

The right engine of the aircraft contained a 25% blend of Bio-jet fuel with conventional fossil derived aviation turbine fuel (ATF). Both as a safety measure and a basis for reference performance, the left engine was run on 100 percent ATF.

The use of bio jet fuel, apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions by about 15 percent and sulphur oxides (SOX) emissions by over 99 percent, is expected to provide indigenous jet fuel supply security, possible cost savings as feedstock availability at farm level scales up, superior engine performance and reduced maintenance cost for the airline operators.

Photo Courtesy - Mint

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