75 flights Hailed as 'The Future of Aviation'
And Path to a New Industry
Alaska Airlines launched its maiden biofuel-powered flight, from Seattle to Washington D.C. on November. 9. Shortly thereafter another biofuel flight, operated by sister airline Horizon Air, took off for Portland, Oregon. These two flights marked the beginning of what will be 75 biofuel-powered flights operated by Alaska and Horizon, and signals aviation's next era, where sustainable biofuels can provide a viable alternative to conventional fuel and enable airlines to reduce their environmental impact.
The 75 flights will be powered with a 20 percent biofuel blend and will operate over three weeks and include:
- 1 daily Alaska Seattle-Washington, D.C. flight. Total of 11 flights.
- 6 daily Portland, Ore.-Seattle-Portland flights operated by sister carrier Horizon Air. Total of 64 flights.
Alaska's commercial biofuel flights come six months after Alaska Air Group partnered in a strategic initiative called Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN), a 10-month regional stakeholder effort to explore the feasibility, challenges and opportunities for creating an aviation biofuels industry in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The study determined the region has the diverse stocks for biofuels, delivery infrastructure and political will needed to create a viable biofuels industry. There currently is no supply of aviation biofuels in the Pacific Northwest.
"This is a historic week for U.S. aviation. The 75 flights that Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air will fly over the next few weeks reflect our longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and our belief that sustainable biofuels are key to aviation's future," Alaska Air Group Chairman and CEO Bill Ayer said. "Commercial airplanes are equipped and ready for biofuels. They will enable us to fly cleaner, foster job growth in a new industry, and can insulate airlines from the volatile price swings of conventional fuel to help make air travel more economical. What we need is an adequate, affordable and sustainable supply. To the biofuels industry, we say: If you build it, we will buy it."
If all Alaska and Horizon flights were powered with a 20 percent biofuel blend for one year, the annual emissions savings would represent the equivalent of taking nearly 64,000 cars off the road or providing electricity to 28,000 homes.
Airframe and engine design and flying more fuel efficient flight paths will only get us so far. To achieve a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions, aviation biofuels must be a reality.
Aviation biofuel is known to have higher energy content than conventional jet fuel. Test flights have shown up to a 1 percent increase in fuel efficiency which means less fuel is consumed on each flight.