India’s proud moment as SpiceJet takes its first biofuel driven flight

Powered by a blend of aviation fuel and oil from jatropha seeds, the maiden flight by SpiceJet plane from Dehradun to Delhi also signified the government's policy push for greater use of alternative resources to cut India’s dependence on oil imports

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(L-R) Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha; Road Transport Minister, Mr Nitin Gadkari; SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Ajay Singh; Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu; and Science & Technology Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan at the launch ceremony.

New Delhi: The private airline, SpiceJet on 27th August completed its maiden flight using a blend of aviation fuel and oil from jatropha seeds. The development is a part of the Indian policymakers’ push for a greater use of alternative resources to cut India’s dependence on oil imports.

A Bombardier Q400 aircraft of SpiceJet made the one-way trip to New Delhi from Dehradun, about 200 kilometers from the capital. In a statement, the private airline revealed its plans to blend a quarter of its energy requirement with biofuel for flight operations, that would lower costs and help reduce carbon emissions by 15 percent.

In the midst of rising fuel prices, air pollution and depleting natural resources, the airlines are looking at the biofuels to limit their dependency on oil and ease the impact on the environment. The use of biofuels will help India to cut down on oil imports by 10 percent in next four years and increase the affordability of flying.

In a tweet, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan revealed that taking its biofuel mission forward, the Petroleum Ministry will be bringing a new Bio- ATF Policy soon. “In a first of it’s kind experiment in India, biofuels developed by Indian Institute of Petroleum- Dehradun, will power an aircraft. A huge step towards encouraging sustainable and alternative fuels for the transportation & aviation sector as envisaged in National Biofuels Policy,” he said earlier.

Terming it a historic occasion, SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Ajay Singh said India is the first among developing countries to fly flight powered by biofuel.

In his remarks, the Civil Aviation Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu said efforts are on to have a consumer-friendly, affordable and environment-friendly aviation sector. Road Transport Minister, Mr Nitin Gadkari said the government plans to come out with a special policy for use of biofuel in the aviation sector. Science and Technology Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan mentioned that the biojet fuel is carbon neutral and there are only three to four nations are using it.

India is expected to become world’s third-biggest aviation market by 2025 on the back of a domestic-travel boom. That is leading to fierce competition and a bruising fare war. Bio jet fuel has the potential to halve the fuel cost of every flight and bring down fares, mentioned SpiceJet’s statement.

Earlier the union government had introduced a new policy that encourages bio fuel production from non-food feedstock such as solid and industrial waste and biomass.