Porter Q400 operates Canada’s first biofuel-powered revenue flight

In the successful conclusion to a test programme launched in 2010, Porter Airlines flew one of its Bombardier Q400s from its base at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to Ottawa using a 50/50 blend of biofuel and Jet A1 fuel in one of its engines, thus successfully conducting the first biofuel-powered revenue flight in Canada.

The fuel was certified to the new American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) D7566/D1655 standard and the biofuel used was derived from the oilseed crops, Camelina sativa (49%) and Brassica carinata (1%). The aircraft’s other engine was powered by Jet A1 fuel. The flight included passengers making their way to Ottawa for business and pleasure, representatives from the biofuel test programme’s partnering organisations and media.

This is the final step in a two-year project whose key members are Targeted Growth, Bombardier Aerospace, Pratt and Whitney Canada and Porter Airlines. Funding for the biofuel test programme was provided by the key partners, as well as by Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCE) through the Green Aviation Research & Development Network (GARDN).

Additional support to the programme was provided by Agrisoma Biosciences, which grew the carinata and produced the carinata bio-oil; Sustainable Oils, which crushed the camelina to make the camelina bio-oil; Honeywell UOP, which converted the bio-oils into the bio-derived jet fuel to meet the D7566 standard; and SkyNRG who were responsible for logistics and blending meeting the D1655 specification.

“We are delighted that one of our Bombardier Q400 turboprops has become the first aircraft to successfully conduct a biofuel-powered revenue flight in Canada,” said Robert Deluce, president and chief executive officer, Porter Airlines (pictured). “The use of biofuels promises to significantly reduce the level of emissions produced by commercial aircraft worldwide, and Porter is honoured to have contributed to this test programme in Canada.”

“The success of this biofuel test programme speaks volumes about the ability of the aviation and other communities to work together towards producing a more sustainable aviation industry,” declared Helene Gagnon, vice-president, public affairs, communications and corporate social responsibility, Bombardier Aerospace.

"When this biofuel project was submitted in October 2010, the Private Sector Advisory Board, a strategic body comprised of respected Canadian industry leaders, approved it with complete confidence and praised its very high value added, world-class experts and very good focus,” explained Sylvain Cofsky, executive director of GARDN. “Eighteen months later, this flight proves they were right and I am extremely proud of GARDN’s contribution to this very promising success in the field of aviation.”

On 9 February 2012, in preparation for Porter’s revenue flight, Bombardier flew a Q400 test aircraft on the ASTM D7566/D1655 bio-derived jet fuel. This was the first such biofuel-powered test flight in Canada.

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