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LAN Airlines and Air BP Copec Conduct Commercial Flight Using Biofuel

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Friday, 9 March 2012

LAN Airlines and Air BP Copec has conducted a commercial flight using second generation biofuels, demonstrating their efforts to generate an increasingly sustainable operation.

The flight, which operated between the Chilean cities of Santiago and Concepcion, was operated with an Airbus from the A320 family with CFM56-5B motors. The fuel came from used vegetable oil refining.

Chief Executive Officer of LAN, Ignacio Cueto, said, "This flight represents a key step towards the future of the industry. At LAN we aim to develop sustainable biofuels for commercial aircraft with a high production potential in South America. Currently, these renewable energy sources play a significant role in global aviation and will affect, increasingly, decision-making in the industry and our company. We want to be pioneers in the use of renewable fuels in South America."

In turn, Lorenzo Gazmuri, general manager of Copec, emphasized the importance that this landmark has for the regional aviation and energy industries. He said, "This is the result of intense work for over a year, a materialization of the ongoing commitment of Copec to developing and promoting new and innovative energy solutions. We hope that in Chile and the region, the desire to promote this alternative will continue to increase and place it competitively in the market of aviation fuels in order to meet the requirements of an increasingly more demanding society in terms of sustainability."

The biofuels used in such flights can be obtained from plants such as algae, jatropha, camelina and halophytes, or organic waste such as vegetable oils, which can be processed, burned directly or converted by chemical processes to make high quality fuel. These are known as second generation biofuels. They come primarily from sustainable raw materials, which in production do not compete with food sources or basic resources (limited resources), which is key in the care of our planet.

For aviation, biofuel meets the strict technical standards required to fly, and has the same characteristics as the regular fuel used on flights. In addition, this source has already been tested successfully by other airlines in the world, showing the same reliability as aviation kerosene on both test and commercial flights.

Using second generation biofuel in flight significantly decreases emissions of greenhouse gases, as no additional C02 is emitted into the atmosphere.

The environmental manager of LAN, Enrique Guzman, said the environmental contribution would bring the use of renewable energy in aviation, would be significant, "Traditional aviation fuel comes from oil and when used on the plane releases C02. In the case of using biofuel, the CO2 released is almost the same amount that was captured by the crop during its growth, meaning that no additional CO2 is released into the atmosphere," Guzman explained.

The airline industry has imposed ambitious environmental goals regarding the impact of its operations, such as achieving neutral growth in their emissions by the year 2020 and reducing these emissions by 50% by 2050. To accomplish this, biofuels are a strategic pillar, which is why airlines, such as LAN, are working worldwide to encourage the development of this growing industry.

The airline industry has already reduced its emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2 per ton transported), by more than 50% in the last 40 years. Still, airlines including LAN have gone further by implementing efforts to minimize the maximum impact of its operations. This alliance between LAN and COPEC seeks to encourage the development of alternative energies, and thereby generate a contribution to the economic, environmental and social development in the region.

Globally, according to IATA, a 1% use of biofuels by 2015 and 5% by 2020, is desired. It is a difficult goal to achieve and requires the coordination of all involved in the production chain, from the producer of biomass to the final distributor, including public policies that support this initiative.

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