United Air Lines and Continental Airlines formally closed their so-called merger of equals today, as United Continental Holdings–the former UAL Corporation–announced that both now operate as wholly owned subsidiaries of the new entity. The common stock of United Continental Holdings began trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol UAL.
Eurocopter and parent company EADS have teamed with Argentina-based BioCombustibles del Chubut (BC) to study the feasibility of building an aviation biofuel factory in Brazil. The three companies signed an agreement in June. The biofuel, made from algae, could be used in Eurocopter’s diesel engines for light helicopters, which are now in the research stage (see AIN, February, page 44).
The alternative aviation fuel industry continues to conduct flight tests to validate the use of new jet-fuel blends. At the end of April, United Airlines became the first U.S. commercial carrier to fly using a certified synthetic-fuel blend that received ASTM approval last year.
Plans by British Airways and U.S. energy solutions company Solena Group to establish Europe’s first sustainable jet-fuel plant–dubbed “GreenSky”–are being outlined here at the Farnborough airshow by the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), which claims to lead the development, testing, environmental acceptance, qualification and deployment of alternative aviation fuels.
Sweden is currently outlining a three-year test plan to test a locally developed biofuel in a Gripen, in a scheme that is partly funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). In November 2007, Swedish Biofuels entered into an agreement with U.S.
EADS flew the first aircraft powered solely by algae-based biofuel today at the ILA Airshow in Berlin as part of the daily flying display. The Austrian-built Diamond Aircraft DA-42 NG’s two Austro Engine AE300 diesels required only minor adjustment to burn the biofuel, which is supplied by German processor VTS from algae oil provided by Biocombustibles del Chibut in Argentina.
In a bid to bolster the market for alternative fuels, two of the world's largest consumers of jet-A have formed a strategic alliance: the U.S. Air Transport Association and the U.S. Department of Defense. According to ATA president James May, environmental considerations and rising prices for petroleum-based fuel motivated the agreement signed last month.
In a move hailed as a significant advance for the bio- and synthetic fuels market, the Air Transport Association (ATA) and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a strategic alliance agreement on Friday, signaling a partnership in the development and deployment of alternative aviation fuels. The two groups, which represent the vast bulk of jet fuel consumers, have a combined thirst of more than 1.5 million barrels a day.
As government and industry plan for more environmentally friendly energy sources, companies continue to invest in and research alternative fuels for aviation. The U.S. Air Force, one of the government’s largest consumers of fuel, for example, has set a goal that 50 percent of its fuel purchases be composed of domestic synthetic fuel blends by 2016, while IATA has presented a target of 10-percent alternative fuel use for its members by 2017.
Purdue University has received a $1.35 million grant from the U.S. Air Force to establish a new facility to test aircraft engines and develop alternative fuels. The National Test Facility for Fuels and Propulsion–which is expected to open late this year or early next–will be located at Purdue Airport in the school’s Niswonger Aviation Technology Building.