Alaska Airlines makes 1st forest-fueled flight - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Procurement, GHG Emissions, Industrial, Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  November 21, 2016

Alaska Airlines makes 1st forest-fueled flight

Photo provided by Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines says it made history Nov. 14 in flying the first commercial flight using the world's first renewable, alternative jet fuel made from forest residuals.

The forest residuals include the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests, the Washington state-based airline company said in a news release. The alternative jet fuel was produced through the efforts of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, or NARA. 

The demonstration flight departed Seattle-Tacoma International Airport the morning of Nov. 14 for Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. The flight was fueled with a 20% blend of sustainable aviation biofuel, which the company said is chemically indistinguishable from regular jet A fuel. The flight continues to advance viable alternatives to conventional fossil fuels for aviation, Alaska Airlines said.

"This latest milestone in Alaska's efforts to promote sustainable biofuels is especially exciting since it is uniquely sourced from the forest residuals in the Pacific Northwest,"Joe Sprague, the company's senior vice president of communications and external relations said in a statement. "NARA's accomplishments and the investment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provide another key in helping Alaska Airlines and the aviation industry reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels."

While the 1,080 gallons of biofuel used on the flight has a minimal impact to Alaska Airlines' overall greenhouse gas emissions, if the airline were able to replace 20% of its entire fuel supply at Sea-Tac Airport, the company says it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 142,000 metric tons of CO2. 

Alaska Airlines was recently listed among six major airlines recognized as leaders in sustainable biofuel use by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

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