Thursday, September 20, 2018

Airbus Mobile delivers first biofuel-powered A321 to JetBlue


Airbus sent JetBlue Airways’ latest A321ceo off on its delivery flight Sept. 19 from Mobile, Alabama, with 15.5% renewable jet fuel onboard, continuing a trend the manufacturer started with its Toulouse delivery flights two years ago.

The JetBlue delivery and four others slated for the rest of the year will help Airbus determine what its next steps are for expanding its biofuel-supply options at Mobile. The manufacturer expects to offer the option to more Mobile customers as well as to align itself with Southeastern US biofuel suppliers in other way.

“It is an opportunity to work closely with local stakeholders to scale-up production and the commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels in the region,” Airbus New Energies head Frederic Eychenne said. “We are actively seeking ideas to leverage Airbus’ strategy into opportunities for new economic development in Alabama.” Air BP supplies Airbus with the biofuel—a hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) fuel based on used cooking oil—for its Mobile operations.

The flight marked the first time a JetBlue aircraft was powered using biofuel, but the airline has grand plans. In 2016, it cut a 10-year deal with biofuels provider SG Preston to supply the carrier with HEFA-based fuel. Deliveries are slated to start next year.

New York-based JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes indicated the carrier’s work with Airbus could expand beyond customer-acceptance and delivery flights.

“Our goal is to serve as a market-maker for renewable jet fuel, creating demand and therefore supporting supply,” Hayes said. “We’re working closely with Airbus to set up infrastructure for more options in the southeast region.”

Airbus’ customer-delivery flights using biofuel were launched based on an idea from Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific in 2015. The program was up and running a year later and is now available to any Toulouse delivery customer. Airbus plans to expand the biofuel-delivery option to its Hamburg production site soon.

(Sean Broderick - Aviation Week)

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