A Chinese airline boss has flown 186 passengers and 15 crew members from Beijing to Chicago with the help of recycled cooking oil.
Sun Jianfeng, the President of China’s largest private air carrier Hainan Airlines, was the captain of the 11-hour flight which flew across the Pacific on November 21.
This is the first time a Chinese airline has conducted an international flight with biofuel.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner, powered partially by cooking oil, arrived in Chicago from Beijing
Sun Jianfeng (pictured), the President of Hainan Airlines, was the captain of the 11-hour flight
Biofuel is being added to the aeroplane in Beijing before it took off on November 21
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off at the Beijing Capital International Airport at 2:15pm local time on November 21.
After flying 6,100 nautical miles (7,019 miles), it arrived at the Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at 12:12pm local time on the same day.
The unprecedented flight was a part of a cooperation on ‘green aviation’ between China and the United States. The Beijing-Chicago route is chosen to be one of the ‘green air routes’ between the two countries.
The aircraft used a type of made-in-China biofuel. The ‘No. 1 Biofuel’ blended by Sinopec is made with 15 per cent waste cooking oil and 85 per cent normal jet fuel.
A Chinese ground crew member shows cooking oil-blended aviation fuel used during the flight
Chinese scientists from SINOPEC Research Institute of Petroleum Processing (RIPP) check the cooking oil-blended aviation fuel at a research base in Beijing, China, 20 November
A Chinese ground crew member refuels a jet plane Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Hainan Airlines of HNA Group with cooking oil-blended aviation fuel at the Beijing Capital International Airport
A bottle of cooking oil-blended biofuel (right) is place next to two bottles of used cooking fuel
Sun Jianfeng told China Central Television Station that the flight was ‘smooth’ and ‘successful’, and that the aircraft reached a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet.
Lv Dapeng, the spokesperson at Sinopec, said cooking oil-based biofuel could not only reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but also prevent waste cooking oil from being reused by illegal vendors – which has been a serious problem in China.
Compared to traditional aviation fuel, biofuel can cut a plane’s carbon footprint by 30 per cent.
China consumes around 30 million tonnes of jet fuel every year, according to Xinhua, and if all of it were replaced by biofuel, 33 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved.
This is the equivalent to planting 300 million trees or pulling 20 million cars off the road for an entire year.
Hainan Airlines, China’s biggest private airline, is also the first air carrier in the country to conduct the first domestic flight using biofuel.
In March, 2015, Hainan Airlines flew a biofuel-powered Boeing 737 from Shanghai to Beijing.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Hainan Airlines is checked by a ground crew member after being refueled with cooking oil-blended biofuel at the Beijing Capital International Airport
A flight attendant interacts with a passenger on the biofuel-powered plane bound for Chicago
After flying 6,100 nautical miles (7,019 miles), the Boeing 787 aircraft arrived at the Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at 12:12pm local time on November 21
Biofuels seem to be popular among major air carriers. Several airlines have been operating commercial fights using sustainable aviation diesels in the past few years.
In March 2013, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced it would use cooking oil-based biofuel to power transatlantic flights between New York and Amsterdam for six months.
Finnair flew an Airbus A330 on a nine-hour demonstration flight from Helsinki to New York, also using fuel partially made from cooking oil, in September 2014.
In May this year, Singapore Airlines launched ‘green package’ flights on its San Francisco-Singapore route with the help of cooking oil as well.
In January, Cathay Pacific, the flagship carrier of Hong Kong, announced it would switch to biofuels made from landfill rubbish on select long haul flights starting in 2019.