Boeing to test biofuel flight

Aviation companies Boeing and Air New Zealand will fly a jumbo jet powered partly by biofuel from jatropha trees next month, the Guardian reported. The jatropha nuts, which contain 40% oil, were harvested from trees in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.

The Air New Zealand jet will leave Auckland on December 3 with a 50-50 mix of jet fuel and biofuel in one of its four engines, the report said.

"This flight strongly supports our efforts to be the world’s most environmentally responsible airline," said Rob Fyfe, chief executive of Air New Zealand. "Introducing a new generation of sustainable fuels is the next logical step in our efforts to further save fuel and reduce aircraft emissions."

Environmentalist Kenneth Richter gave a more cautious response. The Friends of the Earth biofuel campaigner welcomed the move toward reducing the carbon footprint of aviation, but raised concerns about the environmental impact of biofuels. "Even jatropha is being linked to food price rises and habitat destruction. Current rates of growth in air travel mean it is not enough to switch to biofuels."

Boeing said the energy crop was grown on marginal land not required for food.

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