Boeing and Virgin Atlantic to Partner on Biofuels, Ground Operations Conservation; Largest 787 Order Yet for Europe
Boeing and Virgin Atlantic announced an environmental partnership, which includes an order for 15 787-9 Dreamliners, marking the largest 787 order to date for Europe.
The environmental partnership includes a joint biofuel demonstration aimed at developing sustainable fuel sources suitable for commercial jet engines and the aviation industry. The demonstration, scheduled for 2008 using a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400, is being worked on with GE Aviation and Virgin Fuels. Further details will be announced later this year.
Currently, Sasol provides a semi-synthetic jet aviation fuel (a 50:50 blend of petroleum-based fuel and a Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) aviation fuel), with approval for a 100% synthetic FT blend expected this year. The US military is exploring the use of coal-to-liquids (CTL) or biomass-to-liquids (BTL) Fischer Tropsch blends as a common fuel. (Earlier post.)
On the aviation biofuels front, North Carolina State University engineers are developing a technology to turn virtually any lipidic compound—e.g., vegetable oils, oils from animal fat and oils from algae—into aviation fuel or other high-value fuels. (Earlier post.)
In addition, Boeing and Virgin Atlantic are working together on reducing fuel burn and cutting aircraft emissions on the ground by exploring alternatives to traditional aircraft operations at airports.
For example, Boeing and Virgin Atlantic are partnering on trials of towing airplanes to starting grids, areas close to the active runway to start engines preflight, with a goal of reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 50%, as well as limiting community noise. Trials conducted thus far at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and San Francisco International Airport have produced positive results, and work continues to develop alternative operational procedures at the world’s busiest airports.
The 787 Dreamliner uses 20% less fuel per passenger than similarly sized airplanes. The 787 will produce lower carbon emissions and offer quieter takeoffs and landings.
The jet order, worth approximately $2.8 billion at list prices, also includes options for an additional eight 787-9s and purchase rights for an additional 20 787s.
Since the 787 launch in April 2004, 44 customers worldwide have logged 544 orders worth more than $75 billion at current list prices, making the Dreamliner the most successful commercial airplane launch in history.