UA Makes First Flight with Synthetic Jet Fuel

At the end of last week, United Airlines (UA) announced it has completed the first commercial flight in the US using natural gas synthetic jet fuel. The moment marks the entry of the aeronautical industry in the same type of race for alternative fuel that has engulfed the automotive industry in the last two-three years.

"This flight confirms our assumptions about how this fuel performs on a commercial aircraft and is the next step in our effort to stimulate competition in the aviation fuel supply chain, promote energy security, environmental benefits, and the creation of green jobs," Joseph Kolshak, United Airlines senior vice president of operations said.

"United continues to support the use of alternative fuels, and we urge the U.S. government and the investment community to further support critical energy opportunities."

According to the UA, the fuel used is called RenJet. Produced by Rentech, the fuel is used in a 40/60 mix with conventional Jet A fuel in only one of two engines on an Airbus 319. RenJet is derived from natural gas and converted to liquid fuel to allow it to be used in conventional engines without modifications.

The maiden flight with the new fuel took place on April 30. The plane took off from Denver International Airport with 19 engineers and observers on board and climbed to an altitude of 39,000 feet. The results of the test flight will be made public within the next ten days.

"Today's engineering validation flight is a significant step forward for the commercial aviation industry," said D. Hunt Ramsbottom, president and CEO of Rentech.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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