Air New Zealand is planning to undertake the first test flight of a commercial airliner partially powered by biofuel. A 747 biofuel test flight is one part of a deal between the airline, engine producer Rolls-Royce and aircraft manufacturer Boeing to research greener flying. One of the four engines will be run on a mixture of kerosene and a biofuel. The test is scheduled for late 2008 or early 2009.
Air New Zealand's chief executive Rob Fyfe said that advances in technology had made biofuels a viable possibility for use in aviation sooner than anticipated. The partnership gave no details of the type of biofuel to be used, but said that the test flight will not carry passengers.
Virgin Atlantic is planning a UK-based test flight early next year which would also see one engine of a four-engined commercial jet running partially or entirely on a biofuel.
A Virgin spokesman told the BBC that ground testing was well underway in the US in partnership with GE and Boeing. But this team also has yet to decide which fuel to use.