Virgin Australia has just completed a major biofuel trial at Australia’s Brisbane Airport, and the carrier is planning further tests in the near future.
Along with its partner organizations, Virgin arranged to have a biofuel blend supplied through Brisbane Airport’s aircraft refueling infrastructure. The carrier said this was the first time a sustainable fuel type has been delivered through the traditional fuel system at an Australian airport.
The blend of biojet fuel and jet fuel was supplied to a range of airlines using Brisbane Airport. All flights departing the airport during the trial period were fueled with the blend, totaling 195 domestic and international flights.
Virgin is expecting more shipments of the biojet fuel over the next 12-18 months, with allow it to conduct another trial at Brisbane Airport, an airline spokeswoman said. While the carrier and is focused on “consolidating the trial process” at Brisbane, it will also “look for other opportunities across our network.”
The trial used biojet fuel produced in the US, as there is currently no production of advanced sustainable aviation fuel in Australia, the carrier said. However, Virgin noted that “there is potential” for these fuels to be produced in Australia, and one of the goals of the trials is to support the development of such an industry.
The Brisbane trial also represented “an important step in readying the supply chain for the use of [biofuels],” the spokeswoman said. The fuel blend used in the airport’s infrastructure was “subject to extensive testing and re-certification.”
Brisbane is one of just a handful of airports globally to have hosted an extensive biofuel trial. Such programs have already been run at airports in Oslo and Los Angeles.
Virgin’s partners in the Brisbane trials were the Queensland state government, the Brisbane Airport Corp., US-based biofuel producer Gevo, and supply chain companies Caltex and DB Schenker.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the trial marks “another step forward in a homegrown biofuels industry” that is being supported by the state government. “Our own biofuels producers have a ready customer in Virgin Australia and I look forward to their cooperation growing,” she said.