KLM: first flight on biofuels to New York City

klm-biofuel-flight.jpgAfter a series of flights between Schiphol and Paris, Dutch airlines KLM operated its first transatlantic flight on used cooking oil to New York City. The company announced late last week that Thursday’s Flight KL642 flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to Schiphol was made using biofuel, and confirmed the weekly flight will now continue to use the biofuel. The flight between Amsterdam and New York is scheduled to fly every Thursday in the coming 25 weeks.

The Dutch company began to test flights using biofuels in 2009. KLM started with 200 flights between Amsterdam and Paris. Last year, KLM operated its first intercontinental flight on used cooking oil to Rio de Janeiro. On 23 November 2009, KLM operated the world’s first demonstration flight with passengers on board using biofuel. On this flight, one engine ran on a mix of 50% biofuel made from camelina (huttentut). On 29 June 2011, this was followed by the first commercial flight on biokerosene from Amsterdam to Paris with 171 passengers on board. The biokerosene used on this flight was made from recycled cooking oil supplied by SkyNRG. In September a series of flights were operated on this route. With these flights KLM is demonstrating more sustainable operations really are possible.

The aviation industry, policy-makers and producers of agrarian commodities view agrofuels as the solution to growth of the sector. They plan to use about two million tonnes of bio-kerosene per year by 2020 in Europe, compared to almost none now. This means that about three percent of all the kerosene in Europe could be bio-kerosene by 2020.
“Our ambition is to fly with 1 percent of bio-kerosene by 2015,” said Camiel Eurlings, KLM corporate director. “That may seem like nothing at all, but I can tell you that this a big step within the world of the aviation industry.”

KLM – says a company’s note – believes flying should be made more sustainable. Despite the economic challenges, KLM is striving on all fronts to reduce its impact on the climate. CO2 reduction and – efficiency are key in this regard. Thanks to fleet renewal and a dynamic fuel-reduction programme, KLM has gained a place among the industry leaders. The aim of the air transport industry (IATA) is to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% in 2050. KLM already strives for a 20% CO2 reduction per ton/kilometer as per 2020 (compared to 2009). KLM believes that only a sustainable alternative to fossil-fuel kerosene can bring a drastic reduction in emission in the medium term. Innovation is key in this regard.

KLM’s approach is distinctive in that a company – SkyEnergy (SyNRG) – has been specially established to give the production and availability of biofuels a real impulse. SkyNRG is a joint venture of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, North Sea Group and Spring Associates. SkyNRG’s mission is to help create a sustainable future for aviation through actively developing a sustainable production chain for alternative aviation fuels. Today the market for these fuels is just emerging; SkyNRG is taking the first steps to make this a reality. A breakthrough can only be achieved by combining essential expertise and experience in the fields of regulations, effective sustainability criteria, product knowledge and air transport.

The World Wide Fund for Nature in the Netherlands (WWF Netherlands) sees the establishment of SkyNRG as a ground-breaking development. The sustainability of alternative aviation fuels depends on many factors and has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To ensure it makes the right decisions now and in the future, SkyNRG is advised by an independent Sustainability Board, consisting of the Dutch chapter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Netherlands), Solidaridad and the Copernicus Institute of the University of Utrecht.

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