United Airlines makes history with scheduled biofuel flights

United will use biofuel to power scheduled flights from LAX
United will use biofuel to power scheduled flights from LAX

United Airlines has made history by becoming the first US carrier to use biofuel to power regular scheduled flights.

The launch of flight 708 from Los Angeles International Airport marked a significant milestone for the commercial aviation industry, by moving from demonstration flights and test programmes to the use of biofuels in regular airline operations.

United has agreed to purchase up to 15 million gallons (157m litres) of biofuel from AltAir Paramount over a three-year period. It has now started using the biofuel in its daily operations at LAX, storing and delivering it in the same way as traditional fuel, and using it to power flights between LAX and San Francisco.

“Today’s historic launch of regularly scheduled service utilising advanced biofuels represents a major next step in our ongoing commitment to operate sustainably and responsibly,” said Angela Foster-Rice, United’s managing director of environmental affairs & sustainability.

“United is a leader in the advancement of alternative fuels, and, along with our partners at AltAir Paramount, we are taking action every day to minimise our impact on the environment and explore new ways to improve efficiency.”

United has collaborated with AltAir since 2009 with a goal of developing sustainable aviation biofuels. In 2013, AltAir refitted a petroleum refinery in California to converts sustainably sourced natural oils and agricultural waste into jet fuel. This facility can now produce 35m gallons of biofuel per year.

The new fuel is expected to provide a greater than 60% reduction in carbon emissions compared to traditional petroluem-based jet fuel.

“AltAir Paramount and United are working together to lead the industry in the use of sustainable and home-grown biofuel,” said Bryan Sherbacow, AltAir’s president & chief operating officer. “Today’s launch demonstrates our commitment to helping United reduce its operational impact on the environment and advance the use of alternative fuels.”

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