First commercial flight using biofuel successful

A Chinese airline on Saturday completed the country’s first commercial flight using biofuel, made from waste cooking oil, as the government seeks to promote greater environmental sustainability.

A Hainan Airlines flight from commercial hub Shanghai to Beijing used biofuel supplied by China National Aviation Fuel company and energy giant Sinopec, according to a statement from US aircraft giant Boeing.

The Boeing 737 plane used a 50-50 mix of conventional jet fuel and biofuel made from “waste cooking oil collected from restaurants in China,” it said. A Boeing spokeswoman confirmed to AFP that the flight was completed Saturday.

Used cooking oil, called “gutter oil” in Chinese, has been the target of media exposes about how the waste product is sometimes illegally reused for human consumption.

Sinopec, which was criticised in the Chinese environmental documentary “Under the Dome”, said waste oil could be put to better use.

“This fully represents an earnest commitment from Sinopec to continuously advance scientific and technological innovation, and promote green and low-emission development,” Sinopec said in the statement.

The world’s first flight powered entirely by biofuel took place in 2012 when a plane took off from the Canadian capital Ottawa, but several commercial aircraft have used biofuels mixed with traditional petroleum-based jet fuel.

Australia’s Qantas and Air Canada have both tested biofuel on commercial flights.

Last year, Boeing announced it would co-operate with the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China to develop aviation biofuel. It has a similar project with a research institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China is a key market for Boeing, which estimates the country will need 6,020 planes worth $870 billion through 2033.

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