Virgin Atlantic Make First Biofuel Flight
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On February 24th Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to fly a plane on biofuel after a Boeing 747 took off from Heathrow Airport and landed at Amsterdam Schipol Airport.
The flight marked the first time that a commercial aircraft has run biofuel in flight and is part of an initiative by various airlines and Boeing into sources of sustainable aircraft fuel. The Virgin Atlantic aircraft flew with a biofuel composed of babassu oil and coconut oil - oils which are both environmentally and socially sustainable. The oils can be found in everyday cosmetic products, such as lip balm and shaving cream.
The aircraft reached an altitude of 25,000 feet, the planned highest altitude it would reach, with fie people on board including Captain Geoff Anderson. One of the aircraft's four engines was run on a mix of 20% biofuel and 80% kerosene. Boeing have denied previous reports and speculation that the fuel was derived from algae.
President and founder of Virgin Atlantic, Richard Branson stated: "This breakthrough will help Virgin to fly its planes using clean fuel sooner than expected." Branson went on to point out that "Virgin Group pledged to invest all its profits from its transportation companies towards developing clean energy and with this breakthrough we are well down the path to achieving our goals."
The flight was prepared for by Boeing, GE Aviation and Imperium who conducted extensive laboratory and static-engine testing on the ground. The tests were used to evaluate the energy and performance of the biofuel that would be used in the flight. The flight itself is the first step in an industry-wide initiative to make alternative fuel sources for aviation more commercial.
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