Airplane Fueled by Cooking Oil Takes Off from Seattle

Eco-Travel, Travel News — By christinegarvin on December 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

Time for the biofuels to hit the air!

A couple of weeks ago, Alaska Airlines launched the second flight to run on a mix of biofuels and traditional jet fuel (a 20% to 80% mix, respectively). That may still be too much jet fuel, but they have to start somewhere.

Brian Merchant of TreeHugger was on the flight that left Seattle, with the important question being, “did it smell like french fries?” (apparently not). The flight also did not feel any different than a “regular” flight.

Alaska will be running 75 of their flights on this fuel, which is mixed by Dynamic Fuels.

Image: Pylon757/Flickr

But they aren’t the only airline that has jumped on the biofuel bandwagon. A Continental flight also took off that same week, running on a biofuel blend made in part from algae (and no, apparently that flight didn’t smell like a swamp).

Unfortunately for the growth of the industry, biofuels cost about six times as much as normal fuel. Right now, that means airlines have to be willing to absorb these costs without raising their prices too much. Still, there are some tax cuts for the airlines related to using environmentally-friendly (or at least friendlier) fuels.

Does it make a difference to passengers? Well, not that much, according to Merchant. Only one person that he spoke with on the flight said he would choose an airline specifically because they use biofuels. (Although if the flights cost the same for the customer, that number seems low to us.)

Maybe they should make it smell more like a fast food restaurant.

Tags: Alaska Airlines, Biofuels, conservation, Continental Airlines, environmentally-friendly fuels

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