NEW DELHI (Xinhua) – India has flight-tested its first biofuel-powered plane that aims at cutting down air travel costs.
The 72-seater Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft, powered by a mix of biofuel and air turbine fuel, took off on Monday from Jolly Grant airport in the northern state of Uttarakhand’s capital Dehradun for the Indian capital after being flagged off by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, officials said.
India will join an elite group of nations like the United States and Australia if the testflight turns out to be a complete success.
“The biofuel for this test flight was developed by Dehradun-based state-owned Indian Institute of Petroleum and agricultural residues, non-edible oils, and industrial and municipal wastes were used for the preparation,” an official said.
Five hundred farmer families in Chhattisgarh were involved in the production of the partially-refined biofuel used in the flight.
“There were no passengers on the flight. Only airline and aviation officials were on the flight being operated by low-cost airline Spicejet. Aircraft engineers are also on board to help out the pilots in case of any emergency,” the official added.
The biofuel-driven flight comes at a time when spiralling aviation fuel price has strained the finances of domestic airlines.
The government will make an environment friendly aviation action plan till 2035, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu said.
“We want to increase the use of biofuel in the country so that there is reduction in green house gas emission and import of petroleum. We will make sure that more and more airlines start the use of biofuel,” Mr Prabhu said.
While twenty five per cent of the right engine of the aircraft will have the biofuel mix, the left engine will run on aviation turbine fuel. The efficiency of the engine running on biofuel is expected to be slightly higher than that of the other engine.
The first-ever biofuel flight was operated by Virgin Atlantic airlines between London and Amsterdam some 10 years ago.