Singapore Airlines launches biofuel-powered flights

SIA authorities say that the latest initiative would provide the aviation industry with insight on the economics, logistical requirements and performance of biofuels.

Singapore Airlines launches biofuel-powered flights
Singapore Airlines flight Reuters

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) announced on Wednesday that flag carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) has launched its first flight powered by sustainable biofuels.

Flight SQ31 departed San Francisco on Monday at 11.21am (Tuesday, 2.21am, Singapore time) and arrived in Singapore on Tuesday at 7.10pm (Singapore time) with 206 passengers on board.

The authorities said it is the first of those 12 "green package" flights. The airline is operating the flights for over a three-month period on its nonstop San Francisco-Singapore route. SIA said the flights are the first in the world to combine the use of biofuels, optimised flights operations and fuel-efficient aircraft.

According to reports, the flights will be powered by a combination of hydro-processed esters and fatty acids, a sustainable biofuel produced from used cooking oils, and conventional jet fuel. The biofuel, produced by AltAir Fuels, will be supplied and delivered to San Francisco by SkyNRG in collaboration with North American Fuel Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Aviation Oil (Singapore), and EPIC Fuels.

In response to this change, the International Air Transport Association said that sustainable biofuel is a promising technological solution. It will surely reduce the airline industry's carbon emissions. Sustainable biofuel has been certified safe for use in commercial aviation since 2011, and has been used by airlines such as Lufthansa, Finnair, Jetstar and KLM.

The company said all the 12 flights will use the Airbus A350-900, SIA's most fuel-efficient aircraft. CAAS will facilitate the use of optimised flight operations and air traffic management best practices that reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions for the flights.

SIA said in a press release that the initiative supports efforts under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 to encourage businesses to reduce their resource and environmental impact. It hopes that the flights will also raise awareness of sustainable biofuels for aviation and provide the industry with insight on the economics, logistical requirements and performance of biofuels.

"Singapore Airlines' fleet is already among the most modern and fuel-efficient in the world. We now want to push ourselves further and are embarking on this initiative to help promote the use of sustainable biofuel in an operationally and commercially viable manner. This is in line with our long-term commitment to further reduce carbon emissions while improving the efficiency of our operations," the airline's CEO Goh Choon Phong said.