TAM Airlines conducts biofuel flight

22:58, Nov 23 2010
TAM Airbus A320
BIOFLIGHT: A TAM airlines Airbus A320 lands at Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport in 2007.

Brazil's largest airline announced on Tuesday that it has successfully conducted what it called the first experimental flight in Latin America using aviation biofuel.

TAM Airlines said in a statement that the 45-minute flight of an Airbus A320 using biofuel made from the seeds of the Jatropha curcas tree took place on Monday off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

The statement said the biofuel was mixed half and half with conventional aviation kerosene.

The experimental flight is part of a joint project between TAM, Airbus and engine manufacturer CFM International. CFM International is a joint venture of the US-based General Electric Co and France's Snecma.

The experimental flight is the first ever flown in Latin America using biofuel and the sixth worldwide since February 2008, Haldane Dodd, a spokesman for the Geneva-based Air Transport Action Group, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

Continental, Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and KLM have held similar experimental flights with biofuel produced from Jatropha and other materials such as coconut oil, algae and the camelina oil seed.

In the statement, TAM president Libano Barroso said that the airline hopes to create "a Brazilian platform for sustainable aviation bio-kerosene."

The statement added that cultivating more Jatropha does not threaten food production or supply because is not edible "and can be planted along pastures and food crops."

The statement also claimed that studies have shown biofuels made from Jatropham produce 65 percent to 80 percent less carbon emissions than petroleum-derived aviation kerosene.

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AP